Materializing the Everyday: “Safe” Scrapbooks, Aesthetic Mess, and the Rhetorics of Workmanship
Abstract

Abstract:

Like most political engagements, handcrafted book genres may share broad common goals but differ in philosophies of action and articulation—how they take shape matters. Two distinct orientations emerge from scrapbooks at the turn of the millennium. In the 1990s and early 2000s many scrapbook makers embraced material durability and aesthetic regularity, favoring a workmanship of certainty that ensured a maximally stable, coherent, and coordinated arrangement of commodities. Soon, other makers pushed back with an alternate approach, advocating the kind of ephemeral presence and risky workmanship associated with third-wave zines. This mode of making asserts meaning through the unexpected encounter, the intentional chaos that frames the viewing moment as a mode of “occasion.” Despite rhetorical differences that emerge from these philosophies of workmanship and aesthetic expression, neither “traditional” scrapbooks nor those modeled on zines entirely jettison the comfort associated with the everyday content they document. In fact, in the act of claiming regard for perspectives and activities not generally considered noteworthy, the makers of these books question—by means of material choices—dominant systems of attention and interaction.


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