Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Rolodex Project

In preparation for this post I was reminiscing on the origins of the project I will soon describe, and I sympathize with other creatives who are inevitably asked about the inspiration and genesis of a particular project. Ideas come from a myriad of sources, and concepts contribute to your thinking without your awareness. You may be able to tack down one or two main pieces of inspiration, but to list everything is impossible. On this project, for instance, I was inspired by Lea Redmond and her Rolodex Project, a pin I discovered on Pinterest, the Choose Your Own Adventure book series, the joy I experienced flipping through a full  Rolodex file, and many other venues, all diverse and unrelated snatches of information that I have let circulate in my brain. This truly illustrates the adage:

Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

Let me outline my Rolodex Project for you. I acquired an old Rolodex file, the kind which bears a lid that flips up, presenting the cards inside. The Project is part static art object, part participatory performance. Each card is handmade and designed, individually numbered, and features some kind of task or observation that you must make. For instance, one card may ask you to note the condition of the weather: sunny, rainy, snowy, or something else.  Depending upon your answer, the card will prompt you to move on to a different number card: Sunny? Go to card 7. Rainy? Flip to card 50. You are subject to which card the current card instructs you to turn to, but you can also change your situation (play on a different day or in a different location) to modify which card you'll end up on.  Another card may be more fixed, for instance "If you are above 5'5" go to card 43. If you are below 5'5", go to card 21." There are also a few rules: you may only view the card you are currently on; flipping through the cards at will is forbidden. You must not reveal the secret of the project (more on that in the next section) to someone who has not experienced it. No video, flash photography, or audio recording during participation with the project (okay, that's not really a rule, I just added that one so I had three rules instead of two!).

The goal for participants of the Rolodex Project is to reach the final card by leaping-frogging through the file (as I detailed above). The contents of that last card are secret and only revealed to those who have earned it. It will be cool, though, and hopefully the participants feel it is worth their time. Of course the other reward is seeing each card. I have and will take time with every card to make them both interesting and beautiful.

Given that each card takes thought and time to make and I've found my inspiration to wax and wane on this project, my Rolodex Project is an ongoing endeavor. I hope to fill the file so that flipping through is a satisfying experience, unique, colorful papers submitting to the will of the fingers, turning forward and back on the dual rails of the vintage office implement.
There it is!
Can I get some "ooooohs" and "aaaaahs"?
This picture illustrates another aspect of why this is an ongoing endeavor:
 The cards are double sided. The instructions for this card are actually on the back!
I plan to put tab dividers every ten cards and to number those tabs so the
 correct card is easy to find. If you need card fifty four, just look behind tab fifty.
Maps and pantone and scrapbook papers, oh my!
It looks like nothing from this side. Have I really done thirty five cards?

This sticker must go!
"Rolodex Project" is only a working title as I plan to change the sticker on the file box to, perhaps, "Explorodex", or "Observodex". Do you have a title suggestion? Something that fits the theme of the project? I'd love to hear it! Leave a comment, and if I end up using your suggestion there may just be a reward. Let me know, too, if you have any questions about the project - I'd love to answer them!

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