Archiving Chimaera: An Interview with Lynn Book / Jay Buchanan

Lynn Book, Lit (2014–22). Color photographic triptych. 84.1 ✕ 118.9cm (33.11 ✕ 46.81 in). Lit was created for Book’s multimedia exhibition, Instructions for Deranging, by invitation for the 20th anniversary of Art Stays Festival of Contemporary Art,
Ptuj, Slovenia (2022).

In the summer of 2017, I joined transmedia artist Lynn Book in her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to open her boxes. Thousands of artifacts would emerge from the reaches of a second-bedroom closet, beneath the desk in her sound studio, the drawers of the sun porch armoire, and various cabinets and cupboards in practically every room of her house. Curiosity led this charge: each for our own reasons, Book and I wanted to understand what was there. Our desires to inventory and digitally preserve these artifacts would follow.

Pulling these body-documents from storage with a voyeuristic reverence, I looked back at Book’s work with her, first in wonder, then in ebullience, then in overwhelmed panic. After a deep breath, a few pistachios, and a glass of Book’s rosemary-for-memory tea, the two of us hatched a plan. As the artifact inventory—the “Lynnventory”—grew into itself, Book secured Mellon Foundation support through the Humanities Institute at Wake Forest University, making possible digital preservation and the initial organization of the Lynn Book Projects Archive (LBPA). This mass digitization and design effort also sought to integrate the archive, a public initiative emphasizing history, with lynnbook.com, which reflects Book’s ongoing artistic practice at its most recent, present, and future. The Archive became a pilot project for Wake Forest’s Z. Smith Reynolds Library’s emerging Digital Scholarship Center, and from 2017–2022 Book coordinated the efforts of digital preservation specialists and student researchers supported by Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities Center (URECA). We made research trips to New York University’s Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics, Electronic Arts Intermix in New York and to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Flaxman Library Special Collections to better understand the task before us. I served as the initial Digital Director for LBPA, and Book and I co-authored a data management plan for the yearslong initiative. She orchestrated SWIM, the public launch of the Archive, on March 22, 2022. I read three poems on the experience of archiving performance, joining several of Book’s colleagues in offering performances or remarks.

Book and I had already been thinking together for some years about the implications of bodies experiencing, re-collecting, co-making, and re-making time and action. She was my teacher at Wake Forest University, where she landed in 2005 after working globally from bases in Memphis, Chicago, and New York in preceding decades. We co-organized DADA100!, a creative takeover of Z. Smith Reynolds Library for a transmedia celebration of Dadaism (especially its women) on the centennial of the founding of Cabaret Voltaire by Emmy Hennings and Hugo Ball. Book remains an important mentor to me now in my graduate studies and curatorial work. This exquisite conversation qua language-event for ASAP/J marks an important moment of reflection on the (practical, theoretical, chimerical) making of a digital archive, and on the urgent, hopeful futuring that keeps bringing us together.

Following the interview, Book and I co-voice with “Archive” in a poetic coda that foregrounds our experience vivifying LBPA and foreshadows an expansive voicing|writing project we are working on together.

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Jay Buchanan (JB): I’m looking forward to talking about all the trouble we’ve gotten into in the time I’ve known you, Lynn. In your recent artist bio, you describe yourself as “a transmedia artist whose adventurous work interrogates and theorizes Bodies—biological, physical, social, political, boundless. She deploys extended voice, material practices and technologies to make performance, video, text, experimental music, exhibition and collaborative culture projects that take shape in galleries, clubs, fields, streets, online, in recordings and concert halls.” I can attest that your work indeed confounds discipline, medium, and material! I’ve always felt that even the longest litany of your many undertakings, overtakings, provocations, and performances doesn’t do justice to the experience of being with you. So I’m just going to ask.

What are you, Lynn Book?

Lynn Book (LB): Staying with the trouble, is what scientist, feminist, author, provocateur Donna Haraway compels us to do, so I do my best. And you, Jay, with your energetics of idea, desire, action, make for a good troubling partner. I love that you use “what” rather than “who” to invite me into your trap (that I admit, I am complicit in setting). The word “what” is very chimerical, readily becoming adverb, adjective, pronoun, interjection. Asking what I am, as opposed to who, deposes the human-centric concern, and compels me to become, well, just about anything—and at any moment!

This transmedia artist term is a useful, if curious, stand-in for the extensive reach of my artistic oeuvre that for many years was primarily concerned with making multimedia and/or site-specific performance projects, and also experimental vocal concerts. In the last dozen years or so, I’ve been focused less on performance and have returned to visual, media-oriented artworks, including video the earliest in the archive dating from 1981), drawings, photographs, installations (the beginnings of which start in the mid to late 70s and early 80s). I continue to write experimental texts, text-scores and enjoy a poetics practice. Of course, I still perform, but most often as a vocal artist in concert or gallery settings.

What’s really important is the what in this multimodal work—what the work does. Which is also what I do in my eminently performative ways. I, through the work, interrogate and theorize bodies: biological, physical, social, voicing, political, boundless, yet to be, and so on, right? That’s the conceptual and practicable program that really courses through my entire corpus, from the earliest days. The helical strands of theory, practice, experimentation are woven into the DNA of my life as an artist.

JB: You used the word chimerical before, the adjective form, and I think it bears tarrying with it, because this word and its root, chimera (or as you prefer, Chimaera), has been central to your work. I met you in 2013, just weeks before you re-performed Kurt Schwitters’ exemplary Dada sound poem/score,Ursonate (1932), at Hanes Gallery at Wake Forest University. I know you first performed it in ensemble format at Chicago Filmmakers in 1984, and by 1996, you were the first woman to perform it solo at Roulette in New York. (I was thrilled to experience you performing it solo again, when it was also archived with PennSound, a formidable collection of poets and writers documented in the acts of reading and performing). By then you’d spent more than a year actively tugging at the conceptual threads of Chimera, with all its mythological, metaphorical, and material implications, revisiting theoretical work you’d already begun in the early 1990s while you were based in Chicago. How does Chimera figure in your artmaking?

Lynn Book, an excerpt from Unwording Chimæra, published artwork for Abrigo Portatil 5: Performance (2016). Book’s project appears alongside provocations by Tania Brughera, Guillermo Gomez-Peña/La Pocha Nostra, and five other contributors in this special issue of the Brazilian arts journal.

LB: I’ve been tracking Chimaera in a long-scale, polymorphic project I call Derangements for about a decade. It’s part of a suite of works from Unreading for Future Bodies that overall proposes reading, reception, and knowledge making as performative acts. This, like so many of my works, aims to challenge and disrupt power structures. In the various works that make up the Derangements project, this chimerical “monster” is the figural spur that uneasily joins that which lives apart. Lions, goats, serpents, sometimes pig, sometimes human parts converge in these phantasmagoric depictions of a wild and threatening land (reverse speculation imagines the figment emerged from a mountain that breathes fire). By medieval times, Chimaera becomes a ‘she-monster.’ In the video, performance, and publication works associated with Derangements, I construct Chimaera as a fulminating present, a bodying site of intense transmography. I perform becoming Chimaera through a kind of material and physical alchemy to demonstrate, critique and (re)imagine livable futures. I see these proliferative and resistive tactics, as a way to survive by way of radical reinvention.

Lynn Book. Unwording Chimæra. Performance at Powerhouse Arena Bookstore (Brooklyn), 2015. Book published the score for the work in Abrigo Portatil 5: Performance (2016).

JB: Your work always collides and colludes in wild ways with technology. I know in inventorying all the boxes of physical media, we came across something like every videotape format produced in the U.S. since the late 1970s, as well as hundreds of audio recordings in different formats and several 8 and 16mm films. These peculiar videotape objects (the earliest from 1979) both documented many live performance and installation projects, but also included some of your video artworks, found in the Early Works Collection. And you were using video and film, often played back and projected, in your performances, as one of several sensorial interventions. You’ve been back at creating video art pieces for globally-circulated digital publications and continue to deploy video projection in exhibitional projects. Thinking with your reflections on Chimaera’s bodies and digital bodies, I’m drawn to several of your most recent undertakings, such as your ‘quarantine concert’, Tracking Chimaera: a peripatetic guide (2020) and the multimedia exhibition project, Instructions for Deranging (2022)… Is the Lynn Book Projects Archive a chimera? Is lynnbook.com? Is technology itself a chimerical entanglement?

Lynn Book, Derangements – a sense experiment (2014–22). Video installation, 243.84 ✕ 324.916 cm (8 ✕ 10.6 ft), in situ, multimedia exhibition, Instructions for Deranging, by invitation for the 20th anniversary of Art Stays Festival of Contemporary Art, Ptuj, Slovenia (2022).

LB: Instability, precarity, threat, aberration, even promise—the Fata Morgana shimmering in the distance—are all chimerical attributes. And yes, technology is as much a chimera as a genetic move that presents multiplicity in a single organism, like cats’ eyes, violets, or humans. My development of the notion of derangement arises from Chimaera, and also chimeras (I do prefer this version with the ‘extra’ vowel). It’s important to note that the name, the term itself, is unstable, being spelled and pronounced a number of ways, revealing a palimpsest with roots more ancient than early Greek mythologies, trailing back further in time to Near and Middle Eastern cultures. In the recent projects, I’m working radially with Mediterranean narratives, eco-feminist theory, scientific hybridity in living organisms, and biotechnic assemblages. I’m complexifying the impossible, but already lived, condition of multiple human-animal-machine attributes, out of which I’m proposing deranging/derangement as survival tactic in a challenging world and as a means to recuperate a threatened planet.

My interest in the Chimaera dates back to the early 90s after reading a theoretical essay by Ginevra Bompiani called “The Chimera Herself” from Fragments for a History of the Human Body, (Zone Books, 1989). I mention this to show the vagaries of an archive, which is often viewed as authoritative, evincing from master narratives clocked with crisp chronologies. The Lynn Book Projects Archive, of course, refuses such positioning, but is nevertheless bound to a digital infrastructure with exacting formulas of codification. I’m trying to draw new relational lines across a span of time that defy where an archive begins and ends, and also where my “present” begins with the Lynn Book site. I find that, like many artists, unorthodox research interests and inventive creative practices need protracted time scales for development. This obviously disrupts the logic of capitalistic and anthropocentric time, and like Chimaera, the artist continually escapes and expands spatial terrains.

We can say that the Chimaera figure is a fearsome beast, an aggregate imaginary of chaotic geophysical features, an edgy sign of sexual desires, potent magic, or medicine. We might also approach chimeras from a clinical scientific framework to try and explain the unpredictability of biological divergence. In any case, I think there are correlations that can be made with technology, and by extension the hydra-headed digisphere through which we become hybrid bodies.

JB: I love hearing you think out loud about this phenomenologically unstable and destabilizing entity you’ve been working on/through/with for so long. It makes me wonder about other recurring inquiries in your oeuvre, and about the histories that led you to your priorities as an artist. You graduated from the Memphis College of Art in 1982 with a BFA in sculpture. This is where the archive really begins, there, in the late 70s after you had already begun ‘moving bodies through space’ while a core member of the modern dance company at the University of Memphis. The interventions of conceptualism and process art were in full swing, dancing on the same historical stage as American minimalism, land art, Fluxus, and Arte Povera, all of which engage the objecthood of artworks head on and work in their own ways to critique the capitalist pervasion of the museum and gallery systems. The 60s and 70s also of course gave us several important feminist performance interventions, too, from the likes of Carolee Schneemann, Yoko Ono, Senga Nengudi, and so many others. Documentary photography and videography proliferated and evolved rapidly in this period, as did “new media” and video art. You received your MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and then taught there for a decade during the heyday of the so-called “Picture Generation” and another re-ascendance of the montage. I linger on all this history because it feels right to give some character to the milieu in which you came of age, so to speak. It’s always a risk to ask an artist to self-historicize, but let’s give it a try! Have you ever thought about yourself as an art historical actor? How might you constellate yourself historically?

LB: Well, yes, I do think in ‘historical’ terms regarding what I was doing in a particular place in a particular time, especially since I was exposed to and contributed to emergent and transformative shifts in the arts during the last 3 decades of the 20th century. I was always a ready participant and innovator in all that propulsive experimentation. Of course, performance art, with its contested ideas of what it was/is, and the array of artist approaches, was a new energetic territory for me to stake out. Its political stance as a rejection of the commodification of art and its objects was important, the fact of its open terrain for developing aesthetic proposals was seductive, and on a personal level, the interstitial let between contemporary, post-modern dance and the process and body art practices in contemporary visual art worlds was grounding. My ‘bodies in space’ investigations, seeded by the likes of the Judson Church post-modern dance cohort, especially by Yvonne Rainer, continued forward. So I felt like I was on the forefront in making experimental works in Memphis, Tennessee from the mid-1970s to the early 80s that ranged from aesthetic performance investigations that worked with time, duration, site, and objects. I also began exploring video art in this time with Two Heads from 1982 being a good example of these aesthetic concerns in that medium. A particularly meaningful early work that I developed through three project iterations was Advance and Stack, beginning with what came to be version I. in 1978 and continued with v. II. in 1979 and v. III. in 1980.

Tim Glover, archival photographs. Lynn Book, Advance and Stack I (1978). Sited durational performance, Memphis College of Art, Memphis, TN. Performed by Kurt Wagner, Margo Adams, Dan Neff and Peggy Mims.

Each piece was site-specific, action-based and challenged many codes of performance/audience relationship. And there was a nascent focus on processual labor and non-expert action as performance, both signal aspects of performance art.

Chuck Book, archival photograph (35 mm single reflex). Lynn Book, Advance and Stack III (1980). Commissioned for Memphis in May International Festival. Performed by (from L to R): Kurt Wagner, Dan Neff, Lynn Book and Peggy Mims.

As you know, you and I have been working on the Lynn Book Projects Archive (see, I’m historicizing myself… is that the same as third personing myself?) these past five+ years, with you, with others, including my current Digital Director, Kaya Borlase. There have been inevitable gaps in time and focus; other partners and players have entered and exited the scene over time and/or remain in the wings. I think I can’t help but re-member through these processes and procedures—especially with all these people re-minding me! Indeed, in making a contract with Big Data, I am constantly faced with time (compressed, stretched and too little of it). In working with a digital architecture like Omeka (that delivers a searchable database), one is always subjected to the technocratic demands of a non-human partner. I should really highlight that partners like Amazon Web Services, YouTube, Google Drives are very much in the mix. But maybe I’m jumping to the third rail too soon. I will say that the reality of having most of my corpus out in the open (whether box or online platform), forces a reckoning with certain kinds of ordering principles—including chronologies.

I did also want to make a couple more notes regarding your query about place/time coincidence and the informing factors of a moment. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago was a forerunner in establishing a department of Performance and Environmental Design, ca. 1971—about the time when the first use of the term performance art appeared in print. When you mention the “Picture Generation” and the rise of montage in the early/mid 80s, neither was a reference point for me, BUT, feminist theory and film theory was: Laura Mulvey’s “Visual Pleasure in Narrative Cinema” and Abigail Solomon-Godeau’s “The Legs of the Countess”, were instrumental for Legacy, 1988. Critical French feminist works had recently been translated into English, among them—Helene Cixous, who remains an important voice that I continue to read, Luce Irigaray, Julia Kristeva, and more. The 1986 performance project, Look Back… and to begin with springs from some of this reading and also Gertrude Stein’s How to Become an American. Artists who were performance and voice oriented, like Laurie Anderson and Meredith Monk were important for me, as well as Brazilian artists Lygia Clark and Helio Oiticica, for instance.

JB: Do you think artmaking makes time?

LB: Art making is a kind of record making that has intimate and amplified import. The Lynn Book Projects Archive is a kind of record making that works with and against time to organize things, makes and remakes time-lines, makes me crazy. But what springs to mind as a way to dive more directly (maybe) into your question, is the idea of a mark, a mark in time, made of a self and its world. I might also call it a journal of selves—in relation to, impacted by, remaking small and large worlds. Notice I avoided saying the Self (this is one of the core reasons why the hybridity of chimeras is so fertile for me). Making art through time brings that evidence to the experiencing of it. Another time play is the always present (for me), proposal, the provocation, the challenge—delivered as demand or invitation. That’s the necessarily bold futuring that Haraway urges, isn’t it? The provocation stages possible futures not only for viewer/participants, but for the artist/s. And it’s difficult to escape the mark of being a subject within pervasive power structures built over larger time scales: patriarchy, capitalism, white supremacy, colonialism, misogyny. This is why artists need the provocation, embedded in practice, in production and in public encounter. I believe this propositional mode can make such a now, a now that burns.

Ah, but you may ask, can your bio-psycho-physical-vocal artmaking leave some trace? some lingering effect on another? I say yes, and I’m sure you say yes, Jay, but no doubt, with different shades of meaning. I think as an artist who has been in proximity to teaching, I can feel, see, some kind of evidentiary impression of my thinking, my performing, et al, in student-participants in my studio-seminars classes and workshops. It’s harder for me to reflect on audiences’ experiences who attend my performances, yet, it can be a strikingly heightened encounter with ‘now’ (which I’m thinking of as distinct from and not bound to time). I made a multimedia performance project in 1989 called, Physical Vision, when I lived in Chicago. It was really such an important piece for me. I remember a reviewer wrote that it appeared as “rites of theater that looked like transformation”, or something to that effect. I recall that after the initial performance at Randolph Street Gallery, someone, having just seen it, told me to read Clarice Lispector—her Agua Viva (Stream of Life). It touched me deeply, because she was strikingly in this productive confrontation with time by cutting it to pieces, by diving away from it and dwelling outside of it, yet feeling it to her core.

JB: As an art historian and performance theorist, I’m always interested in the tenuous relationship of objects, events, structures, and time(s). It seems like the way artmaking happens in or around time does bear some important relationship to the making and manipulation of stuff. But inert materials simply can’t represent in any totality the zealous derangement I’ve come to know you for, Lynn. Even as you continue to make images, to move and circulate things, you also perform—body, voice (verbs here)—in a manner that relishes its own fugitivity from the record. Even as an image-maker, you’re forever working to problematize the fixation on projects as finished, on the artifacts generated in their making as tradeable. The objects, documents, images, artifacts you might happen to make will fail so exquisitely to carry the ineffable, disappearing and recurring experience of being with you. But those things are always your co-performers, and they do remain even as we experience the moments we remember as lost to time. It’s this emphasis on performing objects that brought me to you as a student and then as an historian, Lynn, and it’s still the key question set for me. What part do things play?

LB: As a performance artist within a contemporary visual art context, it allowed me a kind of fugitive status. Even while studying art and its histories, and producing artworks in a range of media, I was always on the verge of escaping. What I often did instead of, or as escape, was to propose a counter-object: my performing body instead of sculpture cast in bronze, a set of actions in a warehouse basement that lasted five hours instead of framed drawings in an exhibition space. In a way, that’s what was in all those boxes—evidence! The tapes and slides and photos and texts and notebooks and audio journals and sketches, and so on were in part, and much in hindsight, records. I not only kept things, I carefully orchestrated video documentation of (arguably), the most thingless of things—live performance! This was already a kind of archiving, though I thought of it more as a record of what happened, what bodies in a place and time did. This collecting and keeping was also as part of the ongoing process of any artist—sketchbooks are records of the evolution of an idea or ideas; one takes photographic slides of all work, whether objects or performance. At least I did because I was immersed in a visual art milieu in those formative years. Ultimately, one could say that this Archive is a record of bodies, of growing bodies and all their rememberings, of fleeing them, of coordinating larger hybrid bodies. It just now occurs to me that this is the variation in deranging that I love. It both disrupts rules of order, and also produces, sometimes simultaneously, new rules, or at least a provisional set of instructions for the next transformation…

Photographer unknown, digitized photographic color slide. Lynn Book, Gorgeous Fever (1994). Multimedia performance at Randolph Street Gallery, Chicago, IL, US.

LB: So much of my work has been influenced by feminist, queer and other theories of alterity, that I must speak briefly to the object question. And at your suggestion, I’ll do that through Gorgeous Fever(1994–97), the first project that you wanted to inventory, organize and digitize for the Archive. This project arose out of a set of ‘hidden’ practices and their materials that spanned about two years before a public performance occurred. As a woman performing, of course I’d been aware of the conflicting forces at work in patriarchal structures that required the objectification of women’s bodies, much as capitalism requires dehumanized labor for its operations, etc. I recognized—felt—that my body was on display; it was gazed at, scrutinized, as I performed loudly, quietly, and uncompromisingly physically. I wanted to reveal through my performance that we were complicit in an unspoken contract. Exposure of artifice, revelation of understructures was built into Gorgeous Fever, as in previous works from the mid 80s.

In brief, this piece was about entanglements of madness, illness and sexuality in women, and a kind of liberatory power found in performing the ‘excesses’ ascribed to women’s bodies in Western cultures and systems. Today, I would give more specific language to that by acknowledging people who identify with women and their subjugated status and that of subjugated others within dominant, exclusionary, and exploitative structures. With the mid-90s development of Gorgeous Fever, I was particularly interested in the over-anatomization of women’s bodies and the medicalization of extraordinary (read non-normative) behaviors. I also had circus performers in it, ventriloquism acts, and a short radio drama replete with sound effects! Which takes me back to the object question and how other iterations of the project evolved. The original performance in Chicago at Randolph Street had a positively baroque set that included a “sick bed cage”, an elevated ramp above the audience for the “Eelectric Lady” to perform, and a mechanical carving knife that appeared to torment me. So, as you can understand, melodramatic, expressive… at root, it was my self-art-making performing concept, desire, terror, confession, and in the end, liberation. Oh, and besides my own text, I drew from Kathy Acker’s “American Eyes” essay and Antonin Artaud’s final work, the radio play, “To Have Done with the Judgment of God.”

Each new performance was contingent on space, time, city, access, context and my ongoing process of analyzing, reworking, and so on. I was invited for a project residency at the Experimental Sound Studio in Chicago, supported by a MacArthur Foundation grant to create Gorgeous Fever: the radio drama. As you can imagine, no objects! at least visible. The soundscapes for the performance were already saturated, the mini radio drama within the performance, in many ways it was a natural evolution. I also performed a stripped-down version with the apparatus of a radio drama and tabletop sound effects at Milwaukee’s Woodland Pattern in 1996. The audio drama exposed certain illusory elements masked by the earlier versions’ more theatrical staging. I became performer/doctor/director, inverting hierarchies of power that inscribe illness and deficit on a woman’s (erotic) body. And somehow it’s fitting that I performed a double bill that evening that included Schwitters’ “Ursonate”, also included in the video documentation.

JB: It’s all these body-object problems that make building a digital archive of/on artmaking so challenging, too! Sometimes I’m just flabbergasted at how weird it is that the archive standardizes the presentation of objects, which document a thing that we identify as a was performance, and at the same time presents something that is. Do objects in a digital archive become performance as they are clicked on? The archive makes past and future performances out of documents with different temporalities and presents them all in their own little windows, a uniformly tidy frame. As an archive visitor I can go in and see, say, a very crisp performance photograph taken during a performance of Gorgeous Fever at Randolph Street in Chicago presented on the same footing as a nonprofit MOU or a grant proposal. We can work to give both of these objects context as records, but it somehow feels absurd to slap them together, humorous that they exist in the same body. Of course, it’s not absurd—they coexist in the archive because you kept them, and there are no doubt many more bureaucratic documents you didn’t keep yourself in the archives of the organizations with which you’ve worked. But the absurdity of their coexistence speaks to the silliness that orders all our lives, I guess, and it really just screams fragmentariness at me. How does that feel?

LB: Precarious! Unsettled, unfinished! But closure is something I don’t really ascribe to (for better or worse). Something like the few contracts and MOUs existed all these years simply because they were organized with projects that were produced at a given time. Most of this kind of material no longer exists, at least not in this archive. The important ‘backstory’ stuff does: the drafts of performance texts, cue sheets, rehearsal schedules, venue brochures, programs from events or announcements. I’m mainly speaking about the performance projects, but again, remember that there are so many artifacts, records that were not project-oriented, like journals, sketchbooks, and material studies, and there were/are also many projects that aren’t “performance” as such, including sculpture installations, photographic works, and other projects that carry the residue of performative gestures. And these adjacent ephemera (PR, news items, radio interviews) offers people a good vantage point to get the cultural view: a snapshot of a place, a culture in time, especially when you consider the critic’s choice preview or a writer’s review in publication, such as the Village Voice or Chicago Tribune. But when you’re physically holding that cardboard box with the 3 quarter inch videotapes in their big hulking plastic cases, there is another kind of there there. It’s like what you wrote about in the “Apologia retrofesto” you read at SWIM, the launch event of the Archive last year.

“And if they should ask me one day
Why we did it
Why we murdered those objects with all the life we could muster

I will tell them
We did it
Because there was so much stuff, so much interesting stuff to see
Because there were bodies in boxes
dances in index
Rants in cursive
Polemics in Betamax
And dada in sonics

I will tell them
That our theory remains sound if unspeaking and contradicting”

Jay Buchanan, excerpts from “Apologia retrofesto,” written for performance on the occasion of SWIM, the Lynn Book Projects Archive public launch event, Mar. 22, 2022.

LB: Oh! And you are talking about Chimaera when you call out “unspeaking and contradicting”!

I still have all those boxes with all those bits and reels and fading papers (sigh).

JB: And they, too, are bodies of a sort, the papers, and the recordings with little bits of magnetic tape forever threatening to flake. That’s of course the practical reason we started the whole process, just to see what tapes we could rescue before the dissolution of their material bodies made the moments they documented irretrievable. These body-documents carrying histories…these portable shelters for pockets of feeling.

LB: And carrying resonance for unfolding futures. Some of these digitized works are already finding new lives in recent and still to come projects. For instance, the black and white film element for the 1986 performance work, Because It’s Round returns in “Derangements – The Epispheres,” to be completed in 2023.

Lynn Book, “Derangements – The Epispheres,” in progress (forthcoming 2023). Video still.

JB: I can’t wait! (Perhaps I’ve always been waiting?) With a look to more and more futures I think we can connect threads of ideas that circulate in the various projects and in our history together. Let’s share, you, me, and the most intrepid reader, an impossible embrace.


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