Wednesday, June 20, 2007


"The sheets of Shore's fourteen-by-eleven-inch notebook have yellowed some with age and appear brittle. Unlike a blog, which lacks materiality, his diary is a unique, tactile object. The idea of deathlessness in cyberspace can be reassuring, especially during a time of extreme transition: Wait six months, the technology will be better; but wait six months, the world will be worse. Shore's diary is not virtual, it is indexical, presenting the things themselves, which, like people, react to time. Now everything would be scanned and digitized, and it would never color, fade, or crack."

-Lynne Tillman ponders Stephen Shore's infamous travel 'diary,' an itemized account of the road trips that produced "Uncommon Places." No personal thoughts or observations, just dates, receipts, postcards, and detailed lists of every meal eaten, bed slept in, and photograph taken.
Phaidon, following along on it's "everything and the kitchen sink" plan with regards to Shore, will be publishing a fascimile edition this spring.
This seems odd to me, and in almost direct contradiction to Tillman's observations about it's worth. Surely some stones can be left unturned? I'm often surprised, upon finally viewing a long-coveted, previously inaccessible piece of work (Chris Marker's "Sans Soliel", Robert Frank's "Cocksucker Blues") how small and one-dimensional they seem in comparison to the imagined version in my head; a version of minimal reference and maximum optimism. I think documents like Shore's diary ( or Prince's "Black Album" circa 1990, or Wall/Wallace/Graham's "Hitchcock" film circa 1975) can function as tremendous inspiration to other artists, precisely because of their relative invisibility. The legend of a thing unseen is potent stuff, like a cipher we fill with our own possibilities. The internet, like a deep sea fishing net, hauls all these legends up into the light of day, where (like those frightening and beautiful fish that live two miles down) they deflate and expire.