wizard of the archive

I imagine myself as wizard of the archive. On the job, I have managed an image bank for 15 years and hope that my hard work doesn't, in the end, boil down to tending the dump. Some things collect dust, and the archive collects everything. You throw money at it, it expands, and grows lives of its own. Categorizing things was part of my upbringing. Eventually, I found a place for everything.

What explosions will be created . . .

At the archive, things are thrown together willy-nilly. Surprises are commonplace, an angry anti-Nazi poster sitting next to a German advent calendar with sweet little angels, sitting next to a futuristic robot novel with an Yves Tanguy landscape.

What explosions will be created by mixing things that shouldn't go together? Wait long enough, and the ingredients will probably settle into a warm stew.

Yesterday, I went downtown again. Chinatown cozied up to Little Italy. Mexicans lined a main street with novelty stores. Koreans hung streetwear a few blocks away, with Iranian tailors interspersed. Japanese were ensconced next to the high cultural center, and the homeless gathered near the food bank. I felt anonymous and conspicuous. I belonged everywhere and nowhere, right at home.

become part of a good mix

To maintain balance, become part of a good mix.
At first, you must steady yourself often.

Gradually, you will find a comfortable level.

It takes time.

Kwei-lin Lum copyright 2001