© Juan Fabuel

year: 2010

size: variable dimensions

ink on paper

I have always found very interesting how we tend to leave our traces behind wherever we go. No matter what we do, we always make sure that there will be a bit of ourselves left behind to prove our existence, and maybe, if we are lucky, even to the posterity.

The idea for Anthropography emerges from the ironical sense of immortality that we withhold. I transformed myself into a gatherer of those "evidences" in order to create a Neo-gestaltic view. The whole piece is a ready-made constructed using the traces left behind by people. I walk into stores where pencils and pens can be bought and I "steal" the white paper or the notebooks in which they try them. It is very intriguing to see which is the first thing that comes to our mind as a "trace" to be left behind, because it is instinctual. To me, it is a game where I collect the different tries of the people in order to build a bigger one and see the interactions between those instincts. The project is a kind of visual archaeology that does not pay attention to the historical facts but focuses on the present signs and symbols of our presence. I am interested in the fact that, even if we can compare it to some extent with public art, in this specific situation the trace left behind is admitted and institutionalized, which means playing with different rules and notions of community, and therefore, can be recognized as an institutionalized instinctual response which could be analyzed through Foucault's definition of internal speech.

For this project I asked several people to copy my action and steal these little traces printed on paper from wherever they were. I received notes from Vancouver, Berlin, Copenhagen or Los Angeles. All those instinctual evidences on paper from all over the world constitute a visual map containing crucial information about our visual culture.

Furthermore, an additional reading of the collected visual material can shed extra light on the everlasting question about what is public and what is private. When we come to the conclusion that privacy is a recent invention, these abandoned little traces transformed the persuasive blank space of the notebook into a domain where hyperreality has a say. When those thoughts and names are stolen I am in fact stealing their tries, and I am indeed becoming the owner of their attempts.

The project also connects with the idea that those innocent proofs of existence left behind, constitute a potential breeding ground for ulterior initiatives and eventually business, and they perform exactly as those human traces left behind in the virtual world. This information is the foundation for numerous online business models. We, mostly unaware this fact, keep on feeding them with our virtual attendance. Once again, the invisible loss, the lack of relevant information and the vulnerability of the masses, are transformed into profit for some other people.