Assignment: Create a narrative in response to the City Reliquary Museum, based around objects.
While thinking about this assignment and the stories that emerge from objects, I came across a New Yorker piece by Kathryn Schulz, about the different meanings of “loss” and how it applies to both things and people. In it, she references the poem “One Art,” by Elizabeth Bishop, which I recently rediscovered, about the art of losing things. It begins, “The art of losing isn’t hard to master; / so many things seem filled with the intent / to be lost that their loss is no disaster.” Throughout the course of the poem, she moves from keys to the person she addresses in the poem, whom she has lost. Both the Schulz essay and the Bishop poem show the narrative possibilities of lost objects—the way that the absences become significant, and how sometimes the experience of losing something becomes a story in itself.
In the City Reliquary Museum, as in most exhibitions that display historical artifacts, the objects stand in for a memory or historical event. With lost objects, it’s the other way around. For this project, I wanted to explore the ways that memories and stories represent the objects that we no longer possess, for whatever reason. I created a prototype of an interactive site (made with Illustrator, jQuery, HTML, and CSS) that I envision as a larger collection of different narratives and shadows of lost artifacts.
The site lives here.