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Friday, July 11, 2008

1000 Journal Project Reflections

Patrice and I went to the Orange County Museum of Art last night to see the documentary, The 1000 Journal Project, created by "Someguy" in San Francisco. The director of the documentary was there and she answered questions at the conclusion of the film. She also had several of "the" journals and allowed the audience to peruse them briefly. She explained that she did not get involved with "Someguy's" project until several years after it began, so some of the footage of the inception and creation of the original 1000 journals was "re-enacted." There were many pages devoted to 9/11 (particulary those from New York area journalers, obviously) since the journals were in circulation at that time. They traveled all over the world and were "tracked" by Someguy's web site. About 80 of the 1000 made it back to "Someguy." The participants were not working artists, only one or two actually make a living with their art. They were regular people, many ARE stampers, crafters, journalers, or just creative people who embraced the idea of the journals. The idea was to circulate the journals in a timely manner and ultimately return them to "Someguy," the force behind the project. He scanned many of the pages and has created a book (Chronicle Books published it, I believe) which we'll be looking for. They did not have the book for sale in the museum gift shop (big mistake) but shared a funny store about looking for the book at a local bookstore. When the clerk asked for the author's name, and was told "Someguy," the clerk said they'd have to have more information...

Patrice and I were totally shocked that people who received the journals after many pages were filled felt compelled to alter other peoples' journal entries, and even obliterated some of them. One person had written a Robert Frost poem and it was covered up completely. Evidently the journal was returned to him at some point and he pulled up a corner of the page that covered his entry and wrote, "what, you don't like Robert Frost?" At least he had a sense of humor.

For some people the journal entries seemed very cathartic, but then some people had group journaling sessions and the entries were more like graffiti -- everyone doodled on the pages, wrote I "heart" Bill, put the dates, etc. One artist created computer-generated/altered photo images that were sort of disturbing and deeply offended a couple of the other "journalers" who were targeted. One person who was a self-described christian, included what appeared to be pages from a church newsletter with some simple drawings and another journaler covered those pages with hand grenades and bombs.

The director told us that people were keeping the journals for such a long time that the next person waiting to receive the journal (knowing who had it) was getting impatient, sending emails and bugging the person to finish their entries and move it along. Evidently many people kept them as long as a year...the people waiting for the journals tried to dictate a time limit of 2 weeks, but it wasn't very successful. I can understand wanting to hang on to them, to read all the previous entries, to come up with a wonderful entry -- but a year...I guess I'm not the only procrastinator out there.

It occured to me this morning as I was driving to work that what I try to do with my journaling (limited as it is) is to document events, feelings and ideas. Not to be shared with the world. Maybe with friends since they are usually included in my journal entries. More of a diary with illustrations so that I can go back and see what I was thinking and doing when I made the entries. If people made entries in the 1000 journals, knowing that everyone after them would read them, that they might be published, did it change what they wrote to serve the audience, or did their entries honestly represent their feelings. Many of the entries were anonymous but some were not -- the journals were being tracked so that they could pass to the next pair of waiting hands.

BIG use of duct tape, found objects, photos, someone put in a some of the journals were so chock full by the time they were returned to "Someguy" that instead of the original weight of 1# they weighed as much as 7# and were impossible to close.

Lo and behold, as we were listening to some of the interviews of "journalers" in the film, large auto ferries in the Seattle area appeared -- and I recognized the voice of the interviewee before he appeared on the screen. Tracy Moore. I remember Tracy talking about the project and vaguely remember that he participated but what a hoot to see him (and his artwork). Teesha and Tracy are the people I most credit for moving rubber stamping and the paper arts associated with stamping to a new level. They have taken risks with their kind of art, they've introduced new concepts in art/stamp retreats, and they've inspired so many people to have the freedom to be uninhibited "artists." ...and they'll be at the Original Rubber Stamp Convention in Carson, CA July 12 & 13, and I'm sure they'll be journaling.

I don't know where the documentary is heading next, and I can't recommend the book until I see it, but if you have the chance to see the film or the book, I'm sure you'll enjoy them. Try emailing the museum for info on the next "stop" for the film or go to There are new journal projects starting up online, or you could start your own, but I suggest that a time limit be established as a guideline -- we all work better with a deadline, n'est ce pas?

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