"Lost Library" project - June 19 - July 6, 2011
#LostLibrary was a social media performance that took place in New York’s Soho district (June 19 – July 6, 2011), and laboriously performed every day for three weeks during a heatwave. Instantaneously tweeted and posted online through Twitter and Tumblr, #LostLibrary utilized social media to foster and enact the simple act of sharing books while simultaneously documenting the process as it developed.

In the summer of 2011 following an eviction notice, I was forced to make a decision about my library, which consisted of a large number of books I had accumulated for over 15 years. I lacked any inclination to sell them, and the thought of putting them in storage indefinitely was too painful to consider. Instead, I decided I would give some of them away. An inveterate tweeter, flaneur and fevered archivist by nature, the project came together as follows: every day for three weeks I went through the process of weeding books and piling them in themed stacks. Three or four times a day, I carried as many of these books as I could in two cotton tote bags to nearby locations, and left them for passersby to browse and take. Once deposited in a dry window well or stoop, I tweeted their location along with a photograph shot with my camera-phone. The tweets, images and descriptive coordinates then seamlessly and simultaneously posted to Tumblr and Facebook.

While relying upon the efficacy of communication enabled by social networking tools such as twitter, #LostLibrary’s central act of exchange -- the sharing of books -- is firmly anchored in the material world. This act re-familiarizes us with centuries-old traditions of material exchange that lie outside profit-motives and markets, and that privilege alternative systems such as gifting, barter, and sharing. #LostLibrary inserts itself into our contemporary quandary over sharing in a world of increasingly virtual 'ownership'. In a rapidly expanding global economic system that encourages us to license our content as opposed to buying and owning it, we are likewise increasingly beholden to the terms and conditions that legally, physically and ontologically prevent us from sharing and exchanging freely. #LostLibrary asks us to reconsider the drawbacks to our new-found immateriality, to ask what we might be losing as we leave behind the heft and inconvenience of so much printed matter.


#LostLibrary was included in the exhibition BIBLIOMANIA in the fall of 2011 at the Visual Art Center of NJ: newsgrist.typepad.com/joygarnett/2011/09/image-joy-garnet...

more info: newsgrist.typepad.com/joygarnett/2011/06/lost-library-pro...
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