SCUA News

Special Collections and University Archives

As with any special collections library, we have certain subject areas that we focus on and our Artists’ Books Collection is one of those collecting areas. Since we began as a women’s college, many of our collections are related to women’s history, literature, and social issues. We also have our Women Veterans’ Historical Project collection, poetry, history of physical education and dance, local or regional history, and many other collections. The Artists’ Book Collection may include books that overlap many of our other collecting areas, such as an artist’s book created by a North Carolina artist or a book about social issues impacting women.

You might wonder, “What is an artist’s book?” There are dozens and dozens of definitions out there for artists’ books, but this one sums it up nicely:

Simply, stated, artists’ books are works of art in book (or book-like) form. An artists’ book may be a unique, one-of-a-kind piece but it might also be produced in an edition. It may be letterpress printed using handset metal type or photopolymer plates, but it might also be printed offset, mimeographed, photocopied, written by hand, or created using online self-publishing companies. It might incorporate unusual materials like soap, food, or LEGOS. Sometimes it’s produced as a codex and will look like a book, but it might also be a scroll, set of computer punch cards, or sculptural piece. This wide variety of form makes a single definition hard to come by but in almost every case, the appearance and production of the work is determined by the artist. (Otis College of Art and Design, 2021)

Artists’ books can be in codex form – that is probably what you think of when you think of a book–folded pages, attached at the spine, and bound into a cover of some sort. However, they can be sculptural or one of many different varieties of book structures.

We regularly use our collections through our teaching and outreach programs. At the heart of what we do is our mission to promote learning and research, so teaching classes or workshops allows us the opportunity to highlight resources like the Artists’ Books Collection. And artists’ books are often an immediate draw for students – they have a built-in wow factor due to their unique structures and content as well as providing one more tool for connecting with students and supporting their education.

Our Artists’ Books Collection Development Team has been working on a project to diversify the authors and artists, as well as the subject matter, represented in our collection. Through a recent collection inventory, we were able to identify a few of the strengths of the collection as well a few of the gaps. There are several artists who are well represented in the collection, such as Amos Paul Kennedy, Ed Hutchins, Lois Morrison, and Morris Cox, among a few others. As for binding method or structure, accordions, miniature books, pamphlets, case bindings, sculptural, and toy and movable books are well represented. The most represented printing methods were letterpress and offset. However, there were very few artists of color represented in the collection. Likewise, we recognized a need to promote the voices of marginalized populations through the collection by including more subject matter related to the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities, or members of the Black, Indigenous, or People of Color communities. We are excited to announce that we have successfully acquired several artists’ books that help us achieve our goal of diversifying the Artists’ Books Collection. Following are a few examples:

Transforming Hate by Clarissa Sligh

Sligh is a Black artist based in North Carolina and is pictured on the right. Sligh was invited by the Holter Museum of Art in Montana and the Montana Human Rights Network to create a work for a group exhibition. The invitation requested that artists incorporate, transform, or respond to white supremacist hate books that had been acquired by the Human Rights Network from a defecting member of one of the groups. This artist’s book is documentation of Sligh’s process to create that work in which she ultimately decided to fold origami cranes out of pages of the books. She made the headdress on the right and created photo documentation of the entire process. The documentation of the process is the content of the artist’s book pictured on the left. (Sligh, 2016)

Nun-Ya by Benjamin Rinehart

LGBTQ+ artist Benjamin Rinehart created this artist’s book as part of a series of artists’ books titled Boys & Bubs. This book was created in response to unsolicited comments from strangers to him and his husband about their family. As a same-sex couple with children, Rinehart often receives questions and comments about his children such as, “Where did you get them?” or “Isn’t that nice that mom had the day off.” His response is, “None of your business” or “Nun-Ya” for short. (Rinehart, 2017)

Auto Record: Green Kill by Tyler Starr

North Carolina based artist, Tyler Starr, created this artist’s book to commemorate The Greensboro Massacre, a tragic event that occurred on November 3, 1979. Four members of the Communists Workers Party and a protester were killed by members of the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party during a “Death to the Klan” protest march organized by the Communists Workers Party in support of mostly Black textile industry workers in the area. The police were known to have received advance information that the KKK was prepared for violence that day, yet none of the murders were convicted of their crimes or held accountable in any meaningful way. Starr studied FBI files about the incident and included prints of images of the cars and some of the weapons involved in the massacre. (Starr, 2013)


References

Otis College of Art and Design. (2021, June 16). Artists’ Books Guide: Artists’ Books at the Millard Sheets Library. Otis College LibGuides. Retrieved October 1, 2021, from https://otis.libguides.com/artists_books_guide.

Rinehart, B. (2017). Boys & Bubs: Nun-Ya. Benjamin Rinehart. Retrieved October 1, 2021, from http://www.vampandtramp.com/finepress/r/rinehart.html.

Sligh, C. (2016). Transforming Hate. Clarissa Sligh. Retrieved October 1, 2021, from http://www.vampandtramp.com/finepress/s/clarissa-sligh.html.

Starr, T. (2013). Auto Record: Green Kill. Tyler Starr. Retrieved October 1, 2021, from http://www.vampandtramp.com/finepress/s/Tyler-Starr.html.

The University Libraries recently collaborated with the ART 344 class as they created zines for their classroom project. At the end of the project, the students were able to place their work on display in the lobby of the Jackson Library.

The zines on this site were created by ART 344 students as part of a project that asked them to engage with a range of physical library spaces, material objects, and analog technologies, in order to break out from the comfortable familiarity of the algorithm-mediated virtual environment. In research workshops, hands-on visits to the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives, and class sessions, ART 344 students were guided through new techniques for searching, browsing, interacting with print materials, using scanners and photocopiers, and folding paper booklets. The resulting zines, each of which unfolds to reveal a full-page 11×17 color version of its cover collage, critically respond to the following questions with both written responses and visual imagery synthesized from selected readings and found images from the Libraries’ collection:

How do images sway public opinion?

Does the artist have a duty to tell the truth?

Can a manipulated image tell more truths than unedited photos?

https://sites.google.com/uncg.edu/what-is-truth/home

The University Archives has been archiving web content for the UNCG Student Organizations and Groups collection using Archive-It since 2015. This collection includes websites, web pages, and social media created by student organizations and groups across campus.

Student organizations and groups are an important part of the campus community, and the collection provides access to past and present web content that contributes to the history of UNCG. In addition to the historical significance, it is also important to capture this web content regularly as it can be the only place information about a group is available, and sometimes for only a short period of time.

The collection has grown exponentially over the past year and half from fifteen items to over three hundred and fifty. Items include web pages from Spartan Connect, Facebook captures, and websites for groups like the UNCG J-Club, the Student Government Association, the Coraddi, The Carolinian, the Psi Sigma Chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi, and more.

Websites, and social media, often provide a history of the organization or group, bylaws, event photos, leadership and member information, and meeting minutes.

An example from the collection is WUAG 103.1 FM. WUAG 103.1 FM is primarily a student run station that began in 1964. The WUAG 103.1 FM website has been archived since 2015 and provides a historical account of the station’s online presence. Browsing the archive, a user can access not only the look and feel of the website at the time, but also staff listings, WUAG Presents posters, photographs around the studio, and an overall look at how the station engaged with listeners. 

To learn more about the UNCG web archive collections, please visit https://archive-it.org/organizations/914.

-Suzanne Sawyer

The Robert C. Hansen Performing Arts Collection contains programs, heralds, guidebooks, periodicals, playbooks, sheet music, songbooks, correspondence,  autographs, original costume designs, scenery designs, posters, photographs, scrapbooks, and other visual materials and memorabilia. Each of these items help document the history of the performing arts, mainly theatre, in many countries though mainly in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Items date from 100 to 2012, with the bulk of the items dating to the 19th and 20th centuries. The collection is named for Dr. Bob Hansen, an Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Theatre at UNCG, who has generously donated the entire collection (and continues to donate additions).

   This broadside from the Hansen Performing Arts Collection advertises a 19th century theatre production entitled Caius Gracchus, a tragedy written by James Sheridan Knowles, that was performed around 1823 at the New Theatre Royal on Drury-Lane in London. The broadside arrived in Preservation Services to be stabilized and to have a protective enclosure created for it. It was discolored due to age, impurities in the paper, and environmental exposure. One corner was detached and the edges had small tears, losses, or folds.

Due to the discoloration, the broadside was washed. The first step of the process was to ensure the ink was not soluble in water. It was tested by adding a very small drop of water, allowing it to absorb for a few seconds, and then blotting it dry. If any ink transfers to the blotter, the ink is likely soluble in water and washing the broadside would be a bad idea. However, this test proved the ink was stable. 

The broadside was sandwiched between two layers of Reemay, a spun polyester fabric that can be used to support documents during the washing process. It makes it easier to handle the wet document. The broadside was submerged in water in a large, flat tray. The water was exchanged several times until it was mostly clear after soaking the document. This process helps to reduce discoloration and also serves to strengthen the paper as it removes some of the impurities and rehydrates the paper fibers.

The paper was relatively thin, so an overall lining of Japanese paper was attached to the back to provide extra support as well as to fill in the losses at the edges. (Unfortunately, there are no pictures of this phase of the project.) While the broadside was still damp, it was laid face down on a piece of Mylar, which helps keep it flat with surface tension. The crumpled edges were flattened out and the detached corner was laid in its original place. A slightly oversized piece of Japanese paper, close in tone to the original broadside, was pasted out with rice starch paste. The broadside, while being supported with Mylar, was then laid down on the Japanese paper. The Mylar was removed and the broadside and Japanese paper were sandwiched between dry Reemay. This allowed for gently burnishing the back of the Japanese paper lining to ensure it had good contact with the broadside.

Before and After Treatment

Once burnished, the lined broadside in its Reemay layers, was placed between cotton blotters to dry. It was restraint dried–placed under a board with heavy weights–to prevent warping. Once it was completely dry the following day, the excess Japanese paper was trimmed away. The broadside was placed in a Mylar sleeve and a portfolio enclosure was created for storage and protection. The portfolio provides the support needed to more easily handle the broadside as it is pulled for researchers or classes that visit the Robert C. Hansen Performing Arts Collection at Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives.

The broadside in its portfolio enclosure

Memories from friends of Betty’s who worked with her through the years.

My memories of Betty Carter by Hermann J. Trojanowski

In September 1996, I first meet University Archivist Betty Carter when I began working in the Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) of Jackson Library as a graduate student. Betty and her colleagues Janis Holder, Linda Jacobson, Carolyn Shankle, and Department Head Emmy Mills were most welcoming and became my mentors.

Betty and I became very close since Betty and I shared a love of history and the University. My first project under the direction of Betty was the processing of the Mary Callum Wiley Papers. Miss Wiley was a 1894 graduate of the State Normal & Industrial School (now UNC Greensboro) and became an author, editor, historian, and teacher in Winston-Salem. Betty gave me numerous tips and guidance in processing the Wiley Papers and creating an exhibit based on the Papers.

In the late 1990s, Betty met several times with the Class of 1950 reunion committee to plan their 50th class reunion. During the meetings, several remembers of the committee fondly remembered their classmates who had served in the various military branches during World War II. Since UNCG had been founded as a women’s college and the SCUA had numerous collections relating to women, Betty’s vision was to have a collection that would not only honor women veterans but also establish a research and teaching collection.

One of my most memorable memories of Betty was when she stood in front of the over 100 guests at the first luncheon to honor women veterans in November 1997. Standing at the podium with a gray archival box in her hands, Betty welcomed everyone and asked the veterans to donate their military related papers and items to the University so that each veteran’s collection would fill several gray boxes. In 1998, the Women Veterans Historical Project (WVHP) was officially established and consisted of three components: collections, luncheon, and oral histories.

After I graduated from graduate school, Betty hired me to conduct oral history interviews with several local women who had served in the United States Naval Reserve better known as the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) during World War II. Betty purchased the necessary audio equipment, compiled a list of possible interviewees, and wrote a set of interview questions. With Betty’s encouragement and guidance, I interviewed Ginny Mattson on January 9, 1999. Mattson was the first of hundreds of women veterans who would be interviewed for the Project.

Betty was very proud of the Project and wanted to make the Project more widely known. In 2005, she commissioned Brenda Schleunes to write a theatre production titled Star-Spangled Girls based on the artifacts, diaries, letters, interviews, journals, posters, and telegrams donated by the women who served in the United States military during World War II. The production has been a huge success and has been seen by thousands up and down the East Coast.

Betty was very passionate about sharing the history of the University and used every opportunity to give presentations, teach classes, and curate exhibits relating to the artifacts and collections held in University Archives, as well as leading campus tours. I vividly recall Betty and I schlepping a collapsible movie screen and slide projector across camps so she could give a presentation or teach a class.

Betty loved to collect papers and items related to the University’s history and she was relentless in pursing items that would enhance the holdings of the University Archives.  In the sweltering heat of July 2004, Betty and I drove to Caldwell County to pack the Lelia Judson Tuttle Collection. Tuttle graduated from the State Normal & Industrial College (now UNC Greensboro) in 1900 and taught in China from 1909 to 1942. During her time in China, she collected Chinese artifacts, documents, and textiles that she later donated to Caldwell County. In 2004, the collection was transferred to UNC Greensboro and has been used for classes, exhibitions, and presentations.

Between 2006 and 2007, Betty worked tireless to upgrade the Women Veterans Historical Project Curator and Assistant University Archivist positions from staff to faculty status. Betty felt that the two positions deserved faculty designation since Curator Beth Carmichael and my responsibilities were in line with other Jackson Library faculty positions.

Betty was a not only a wonderful colleague and friend whom I and many of her former colleagues at UNC Greensboro will greatly miss.

FINDING BETTY CARTER (Memories from Emilie Mills, Special Collections Librarian -1972-1997)

One balmy day in 1974 as I was leaving the NC State Archives building in Raleigh, one of their staff members came running after me. She explained that there was a former archives employee looking for work in Greensboro because her husband had gotten a job there.  Her name was Betty Carter, and she had a Master’s degree in history from Duke and until recently was a beloved and talented member of the State Archives staff. I remember that day so well that it is hard to think that was 47 years ago.

To this day I still believe the hiring of Betty for our Archives position was one of the brilliant moves of the second half of the 20th century. Once she came on board (initially part-time) she assessed and inventoried the archival materials pertaining to the history of the University. We had endless discussions about where to start, what must be saved, and determine what was missing. As it turned out, a great deal was missing from the library’s holdings, but Betty unearthed much of it over the years from various “hidey-holes” and hoarders on campus.  She had the instincts of a professional sleuth.

Betty began her magic with the papers of Charles Duncan McIver, the school’s founder and first president.  I would say she was totally immersed both professionally and spiritually with Dr. McIver, his school and family. She subsequently even named one of her cats for him!  

Another job change came to the Carters and Betty was off to Charleston, SC.  She took her McIver notes and drafts with her and continued to work on the description of the McIver papers.  Of course, there were many phone calls back and forth during this hiatus. When Betty’s family returned to Greensboro, this time for good, Betty was welcomed back to the Archives.

Betty’s dedication never went unnoticed by the library staff and the many faculty members who made use of the collections. Researchers from other institutions sang their praises over the ease of access to the archival materials and to the professionalism of the entire Archives staff.

I am proud to be able to speak of Betty as a loyal friend and colleague par excellence. I will never forget her and our years together.  She taught me much.

Memories from former Women Veterans curator Linda Jacobson

The nearly seven years that I spent working with Betty Carter in Jackson Library’s Special Collections/University Archives (SCUA) were some of the best and most transformative years of my life.  I began working in the department in the mid-1990s in a student role, but right away Betty treated me like I was an important part of the team. With her support and advocacy, I graduated to part-time and later full-time positions in the University Archives. Betty also encouraged me to complete my graduate degree, knowing that would be the only way I would reach my career goals.

Betty and I began working closely together when she established the Women Veterans Historical Project.  Through many long hours of grant proposal writing, advocacy, and hard work, Betty took one small donation of a World War II WAVES uniform and built the foundation for what is now an assemblage of 650 collections.  I was honored to be appointed as the first curator of this collection which allowed me to spend more time with Betty, traveling to auctions to bid on old uniforms or working together to plan the annual luncheon.  She often encouraged me to go outside my comfort level in this role, and I am the better for it. 

It was known across campus and beyond that Betty knew everything about UNCG’s history.  It seemed she was constantly being phoned or emailed by someone with a question.  Although she did not attend UNCG, Betty loved its history. We often teased her about her fondness for the school’s founder, Charles Duncan McIver (1860-1906).  Betty’s enthusiasm for UNCG’s history helped to raise the profile of UNCG and the archives.

Betty also had a big heart. This could be seen in how she counseled us in our affairs and entertained us in her home.  She also had a propensity for saving stray cats, most remarkably a family of six!

I look back with enormous gratitude for the time I spent at Jackson Library, and for having had the honor of working with Betty. 

Memories from Former Assistant University Archivist Janis Holder

Of the 26 years I spent on the staff of Jackson Library, the last 10, from 1993-2003, were spent working in Special Collections and University Archives. Jackson Library was large enough that you could work in one department while having absolutely no idea about the rest of the staff, much less what their jobs entailed. This was especially true of Special Collections and University Archives, which always seemed to be a place apart – a place of secrets and wondrous treasures that most of us would never know. 

It wasn’t until I started work in the Catalog Department in 1983, cataloging materials for Special Collections and University Archives, that I began to get to know Betty Carter; in 1993, when a position became available in SCUA, I jumped at the chance to apply, working first with Special Collections Librarian Emmy Mills, then directly with Betty in University Archives. Both of those women were enormously influential in my life.

The SCUA office space was relatively small, divided into cubicles for some semblance of privacy, and Betty and I worked on opposite sides of a cubicle divider. The lack of privacy never seemed to bother Betty, who maintained her equilibrium even during the period when a certain History professor claimed a table in our office while working on a history of the university. Though we had the greatest affection for him, he would sometimes insert himself into staff discussions and even comment on phone calls he overheard. Betty was his mainline to the records he needed for his research, and she was unfailingly polite and helpful while the rest of us were rolling our eyes.

Betty had a habit of kicking off her shoes while working and padding around the office in bare or stockinged feet. Shoes were always slipped quickly on when a patron materialized at the reading room door, of course. The enforced closeness of the SCUA staff led to a camaraderie that I valued and helped us through one of our greatest challenges as a department during a messy, dirty, 7-month HVAC system renovation that had the stacks under wraps and inaccessible. We were survivors. Heck, we were together in the office watching when the plane hit the second tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11. 

Betty was a champion, and an encourager: fiercely protective of her staff and resources, unflagging in her promotion of University Archives, knowledgeable and scarily intelligent, she got things done while also content to work behind the scenes, and above all, she cared. She cared about preserving UNCG’s records, documents, and artifacts, and she cared about providing access to them. She modeled what a University Archivist should be, and I’m sure I internalized some of those traits for later use in my own stint as University Archivist at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Betty encouraged me to accept the nomination for a leadership position in the Society of North Carolina Archivists (SNCA), knowing that the exposure would also be good for UNCG. She gave me leadership responsibilities and encouraged me to take every opportunity for professional development and, ultimately, encouraged me to interview for the University Archivist position at UNC-Chapel Hill, knowing that it might mean losing me as a staff member. She even held a reception for me at her house before I left and was never anything but supportive of my decision.

Betty never openly cared about personal credit or notoriety, but she certainly deserved it. When the Women Veterans Historical Project was named in her honor it went a long way toward recognizing the pivotal role, she played in creating that nationally recognized collection. Betty never missed an opportunity to interview a veteran, and included her staff in the process, sending us off with a list of questions and assurances that we could get the job done. 

Memories from Beth Ann Koelsch, Associate Professor and Curator of The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

I’m sure I join with many others in mourning Betty’s passing, and in feeling gratitude for a very special woman who touched many lives.

What I remember most about Betty is her fierce love for the World War II veterans who were part of the WVHP collection. She befriended a few of these women and would keep in touch with them for years after their oral histories were added to the collections. Betty was justifiably proud of creating and fighting for support for the Women Veterans Historical Project, and her legacy of scholarship will endure.

Although Special Collections and Archives (SCUA) staff provided virtual research and instructional support throughout the pandemic, the transition from having our doors closed to the public for so long to inviting the community back into our reading room has been an adjustment. Several SCUA staff worked on site in the library throughout the worst of the Covid epidemic, serving as critical liaisons between researchers and collections. During the Spring 2020 Semester, when almost all classes were online, our reading room was closed to the public, but we permitted researchers to schedule visits by appointment and continued to find innovative ways of meeting our community’s needs. As the Fall 2021 Semester approached, and the chancellor emphasized the need for an on-campus experience for students, we began planning on how to best meet our campus’ needs and open our doors to the public.  

Maximizing student success is a priority for us, and the department has risen to engage the challenges of meeting students’ educational needs during the pandemic. Before Covid, we provided over a hundred instructional sessions per semester, most of which were in-person. Adapting to the shift to online learning during the 2020-2021 school year, we modified many in-person classes into virtual sessions, and with the resuming of in-person classes in the 2021-2022 school year, we adapted, yet again, to provide the safest instructional experience possible for our students.

Many instructors with whom we collaborate feel that the experience of physically interacting with archival materials is crucial to the learning outcomes for their students. At the beginning of the Fall 2021 semester, we developed a strategy to accommodate instructors to the best of our abilities in order to ensure students would be able to experience archival research-based learning. Space was our greatest limitation — with spacing at the required three foot distance apart, the Hodges Reading Room, where we hold the lecture portion of instruction, could only seat fifteen students. Our Researcher Room, where we conduct hands-on exercises, could only support two students per table. This required limiting class size to fifteen students for one SCUA instructor, or doubling instructors and dividing classes. Larger classes certainly have required a degree of choreography to maneuver, but both students and instructors are delighted to return to the archive. 

In addition to classes, we are once again open to walk-in researchers, and have provided support for many academics during this semester already. With the closure of most archives during the pandemic and the lack of safety until the development of a vaccine, many scholars dependent on primary source material for their research were limited greatly in terms of academic publishing. Although we remained open by appointment for researchers, travel has been challenging for many scholars, especially those with home and family obligations. Knowing that many people would be reengaging their scholarship, we are pleased to open our doors to the public, though for the sake of safety, we limit the number of researchers at any one time to four people.

During these times of strain and uncertainty, our department discovered creative ways of affirming our department’s mission of promoting research-based learning and making materials accessible. Through the persistent uncertainty, we will continue to collaborate with instructors and find creative ways of promoting learning and providing research support.  

The Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections & University Archives is pleased to announce the acquisition of the records and publications of the Brooklyn Arts Press. Brooklyn Arts Press (BAP) is devoted to publishing new works by emerging artists. The purpose of the press is to serve the community by publishing great works of varying aesthetics side by side, subverting the notion that writers and artists exist in vacuums, apart from the culture in which they reside and outside the realm and understanding of other camps and aesthetics. The press believes experimentation and innovation, arriving by way of given forms or new ones, make our culture greater through diversity of perspective, opinion, expression, and spirit. The collection also includes material relating to Augury Books, an imprint of BAP since its incorporation in 2017. Augury Books authors have received awards such as the O. Henry prize for short fiction, the Great Lakes Colleges Association’s “Discover” Award for creative nonfiction, and the Tony Quagliano International Poetry Award. Authors have also been nominated for the CLMP Firecracker award, the Lambda Literary Arts award, and have been featured on the Poetry Society of America’s and the Academy of American Poets website. 

The Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the Brooklyn Arts Press, Joe Pan, is a graduate of UNC Greensboro’s Department of English, having studied with Fred Chappell, Stuart Dischell, and Lee Zacharias. He also worked as an intern on the Greensboro Review with Jim Clark. 

Stacey Krim and David Gwynn are collaborating with the Office of Intercultural Engagement to provide an exhibit and lecture on the history of gay bars in Greensboro as part of LGBTQ+ History Month. The exhibit, which complements, the current exhibit by the Jackson Library reference desk, was put up on National Coming Out Day (October 12th) and will remain available for viewing at the Intercultural Resource Center until the end of October. Gwynn’s lecture on the history of gay bars in Greensboro will be held at the same location on October 26th at 12:30pm.

A History of Greensboro LGBTQ+ Bars and Clubs Exhibit in the Intercultural Resource Center

by Audrey Sage

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s Special Collections division recently acquired a copy from the limited edition of Louise Levergneux’s book “Surveillance” to add to their artist book collection. This unique work questions the prevalence and abundance of security devices that track our movements and actions, every hour, around the world. She asks, “Who’s watching?” Who monitors and uses these collections of visual data of which we have become, sometimes unknowingly and without consent, a part?

“Is privacy a thing of the past?” We are no longer guaranteed our freedom and anonymity as technology is developed and information is tracked, monitored through facial identification, and logged.

Levergneux photographed security warning signs she encountered while traveling and incorporated these images into her tunnel book, creating an overwhelming view as you look through this passageway of notifications into the lens of a camera. A fake security camera is mounted on the cover alongside a power switch. Once you open the book, timed warning beeps sound and ultimately a flash erupts, to simulate the flash of a camera documenting your exposure.

“CCTV (closed-circuit television) is the bane of mass surveillance, which erodes intellectual freedom and deconstructs the social fabric of our society… Through built-in backdoors, security agencies can tune in to our phone calls, read our messages, capture our photo, look through our emails, steal our files … Anywhere, 24/7!”  -Levergneux

Housing this artist book was essential for us to protect and preserve its carefully constructed format.  The mechanism requires two AA batteries, that the artist recommends storing separately when not in use.      

   

We designed a box that has a peek-a-boo circular window over the security camera dome. The volume slides into the housing recess, under side ridges that hold the book in place, keeping the book secured when the clamshell enclosure is moved. There is a small, covered compartment to store the batteries with an interior strap that lifts the batteries forward, simplifying retrieval. 

Louise Levergneux’s Surveillance presents us with a moment or two to reflect upon those who surveil, among other things. To what end is this data being collected, for what use? This data has proven to be useful, to protect victims and identify those up to no good.  This data has conversely been used by those up to no good, harming and manipulating individuals.  We have slowly and steadily found ourselves living in a world where nearly everything we do can be monitored, blindly enjoying the conveniences and thrills of technology, and like the frog in the frying pan, as the heat rises, we find it may be too late to hop out.

For more information about this artist, please visit her website: https://louiselevergneux.com/

 
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