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Brian Singer's Paper Trails

Grapho-maniacs from around the world find a home on the Web at the wildly whimsical 1000journals.com

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In the 1920s, the Surrealists invented a game they called ”Exquisite Corpse.” Participants would scrawl an odd word or drawing onto a piece of paper and pass it along to another player who would then add to the work without looking at the previous contribution. Inspired by this parlor-room diversion, 28-year-old Brian Singer launched his 1000 Journals project in August of 2000. The San Francisco-based graphic designer initially sent out books to friends who sent them them along to friends of their own. And while some of the earlier books are MIA, most have made it back to Singer’s home. These completed journals, full of eye-popping art and mind-bending musings, have been scanned and posted on the site 1000journals.com, which serves as an electronic gallery chronicling some incredible journeys.

Thus far, the 600-plus books in circulation have traveled across Japan, Germany, London, Australia, and throughout the U.S. Scribbled inside some of the journals are wonderfully terse comments that record the volumes’ peregrinations in understated prose: ”Journal #285 was toted in a gallon-sized zippy bag with a pen and left in a cave frequented by climbers in Enchanted Rock, Fredericksburg, Texas.” Or ”Jon and his friends dressed as pirates and took Journal #354 all around St. Louis taking pictures and then emailing clues as to the book’s whereabouts.” (It was last seen tucked into the mouth of a giant turtle statue.) As for his own role in this intercontinental—and still ongoing—art show, Singer is graciously humble: ”It doesn’t matter if I did it, or someone else, it just matters that it’s being done. It belongs to the world.”

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