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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wreck dat Shit

My attention has been pretty much consumed by www.swap-bot.com, a site where you can swap all kinds of various items with like-minded individuals. Postcards, stickers, stationery, thrift store wares, tshirts, etc., are all ripe for the swapping. There are various swaps held by members of the site and then you can decided to join the swap or "watch" the swap, to see if it has enough members that may hold your attention. Although some people make take it a little too seriously (jesus, I mean, there are people that use way too many exclamation points when describing what they want. It's not a department store. It's supposed to be fun), it's generally a bunch of slightly-bizarre people that want to trade their stuff and meet people with similar interests. 

One of my last swaps was to create a "Wreck this Journal." If you don't know much about this concept, I'll let Amazon explain it for me,

For anyone who's ever wished to, but had trouble starting, keeping, or finishing a journal or sketchbook comes Wreck This Journal, an illustrated book that features a subversive collection of prompts, asking readers to muster up their best mistake- and mess-making abilities to fill the pages of the book (and destroy them). Acclaimed illustrator Keri Smith encourages journalers to engage in "destructive" acts-poking holes through pages, adding photos and defacing them, painting with coffee, and more-in order to experience the true creative process. Readers discover a new way of art and journal making-and new ways to escape the fear of the blank page and fully engage in the creative process.

The idea of overcoming your own hurdles and "wrecking" a book is something very engaging and liberating. In Smith's work, most of her pages call for destruction, and that it so foreign to so many people that look at journals as something to be treasured and kept for eternity: collecting dust and holding embarrassing thoughts about relationships, awful poetry and shitty drawings.

When I was given the task of creating a journal like this for a swap partner, I found that I didn't necessarily JUST want to destroy it, but I wanted to make the reader think. I asked the reader to "write a letter to your favorite celebrity," or "draw a picture of your favorite childhood toy," or "collect the tags from everything you buy and paste them here." Subliminally, or perhaps not too subliminally, this allows the journaler to really think about what they're doing and not just be destructive for the sake of being destructive.

As with most of the things that I do, I have to wonder if my swap partner will think that I am as clever as I think I am. In turn, I wonder what the journal that I receive from my swap partner will be like? The anticipation of receiving such a prize is really awesome, but not as awesome as sending something away to someone that you've never met.

To be a swap weirdo is really something that you have to embrace fully, or you'll just send someone crappy postcards with pictures of Atlanta, Georgia on them...looking all fancy and sunny. Who the hell wants something like that?
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