Steven McCarthy ~ Minnesota

Share this page: "Steven McCarthy is a professor of graphic design at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis-St Paul, USA. His long-standing interest in theories of design authorship - as both scholar and practitioner - has led to lectures, exhibits, publications and grant-funded research in over a dozen countries. His works of design authorship are in numerous prominent collections and his academic writing has appeared in journals devoted to design, typography, new media and education."

Unbroken Record
electronic communication, forever undigitized

By Steven McCarthy
Falcon Heights, Minnesota: Steven McCarthy, 2014. Edition of 50, 20 available for sale.

12.75 x 12"; 44 pages. Digitally printed on Mohawk Superfine text and cover using a Xerox 150. Archival matte dry ink. French fold with metal post binding on the left side. In open ended paper slip case. Signed by the author.

Steven McCarthy: "Memories fade and are forever lost without documentation. While digital means of communication have accelerated the speed and number of exchanges between people, text messages, Tweets, and email messages primarily exist as ephemeral instantiations - brief, fleeting, of the moment, but rarely archived in long-term, tangible, and stable way.

"While storing these messages electronically is possible, there are three major concerns. One, changes in device hardware and software make it challenging to access data over time (recall 3.5" floppy disks? Apple Macintosh OS 9 and earlier?). Two, the current trend for cloud computing and 'free' social networking makes data ownership, location, control and privacy unresolved issues. And three, it takes time and effort for people to filter their messages, organize them into a coherent narrative and archive them for posterity.

"What form might best survive to be discovered in one's basement or attic many years from now?

"This project, an artist's book in an edition of fifty, explores the undigitizing of electronic communication and fixing it in an analog medium. Ink on paper books, letters and cards - if kept moisture and light-free - have a life expectancy of many decades, even centuries.

"Unbroken Record is a record of several conversations between myself and my family, none of whom thought that their words or pictures sent to me would be fodder for a creative project. This, I acknowledge, flirts with the ethics of privacy. Although anonymized for the book's broader readership, and edited for content prior to inclusion, it is conceivable that some will be unhappy that their thoughts were included without permission (even if sent as group messages)."


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Page last update: 01.29.15


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