Tuesday, August 3, 2010

1000 Journals... And Counting

If you have made a stop into local favorite Klekolo World Coffee lately, you may have noticed a very plain announcement hanging on the register with a brief description of the 1000 Journals project. This project started about 10 years ago when “Someguy”, who I suppose wishes to remain anonymous, turned his fascination with bathroom wall scrawl and the reasons behind it into an interactive shared journaling project. The project became a book and later a documentary film, in which Klekolo appears for a brief moment. It is described as a “global 'message in a bottle'.” The original 1000 Journals website describes the origin of the project:

The 1000 Journals Project is an ongoing collaborative experiment attempting to follow 1000 journals throughout their travels. The goal is to provide a method for interaction and shared creativity among friends and strangers. How It Works: Those who find the journals add something to them. A story, drawing, photograph, anything really. Then they pass the journal along, to a friend or stranger, and the adventure continues.

After the project was underway for about 6 years, the 1000 Journals Project book was published by Chronicle Press. It's available to borrow at the Russell Library, though I bet its a safe assumption that the author and publisher might prefer you to buy your very own copy of it for your collection. The documentary by filmmaker by Andrea Kreuzhage was released on DVD in early 2009 and is about people whose lives are touched by the traveling journals. The film toured the festival circuit for the last two and half years and has received rave reviews too numerous to mention. It is available for purchase at Klekolo. The filmmaker has personally sent them to be sold in communities that participated in the project and sends her advanced appreciation for any help in supporting her art. The project also spent some time as a travelling art installation at various museums including an exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

The original concept of 1000 journals was launched without the sophisticated web tracking tool and only 1 of the 1000 journals ever made it back to the originator. That "one that made it back" is also known as Journal 562 and is the one that spent some time at Klekolo. I learned from the owner of Klekolo that Journal 526 circulated around Klekolo and it's regular (and maybe not so regular) customers for months. Many pages were done in and around Klekolo and other points in Middletown. As for the other 999, presumably they are floating around out there somewhere, or sitting on bookshelves, at the bottom of boxes, in basements or in landfills, just adding to the mystique of the project.

Because of the popularity of the project and the demand for it to continue on with more journals, the 1000 Journals evolved into the new, improved, and expanded 1001 Journals. Now individuals anywhere can start up the journals whereas the original concept had all thousand of the journals started and put into circulation by one person (Someguy). The project, originally dubbed an experiment, is still going on strong today. The journals are tracked on the website and some of the pages are scanned in so they can be viewed online. You can search for one of the nearly 3600 journals that are now a part of this project, and find journals that are still in progress and sign up to contribute a page. The journals that are involved in this project are making it all around the world with about 60 different countries represented. Some of them are kept private among a circle of friends who have signed up, and some of them are public and have specific themes.

I spent some time perusing the scanned pages of some of the more recent journals on the website and I felt a little disappointed that most of the pages are packed with artwork like drawings and collages but are sparse at best on the stories, thoughts, and feelings that traditionally might be associated with a journal. I think one of the appeals of this concept is the titillation factor of having a window into other people's minds and the vicariousness that goes along with that. The artwork is certainly nice to look at, but as they are journals, I observed a noticeable lack of the written word. I did learn from the owner of Klekolo; however, that many of the journals do indeed have much writing in them including personal stories and such. You can't see much of that on the website scans, for whatever reason, but I would venture a guess that having the book in hand and actually holding it and reading the writings would be a much more satisfying experience than looking at it online. I have also learned that in the published book there is a page that was created here in Middletown by Tony Palmieri of Datura, and that it is so visually appealing it got a full page spread in the published book.

I wonder if the absence of a known tracking system in the original launch may have produced pages with more heartfelt and profound scribblings, along the lines of what you can see in Found Magazine. Everyone who contributes to the journal pages of the current day project surely must know ahead of time that their work will be on display for the world to see. In any case, from the looks of it this project is now self-propelled with no end in sight. So who knows, maybe some of the other 999 original journals might reappear. Cause for a sequel, I'd say.

View the movie trailer on YouTube

1 comment:

1000 Journals said...

Serendipity: the wondrous connection of Klekolo, 1000 Journals, #526, Middletown, San Francisco, and the rest of the world. Great story!