Last year I picked up a book that had been sitting for some years in a plastic storage container filled with some of my books in my grandparent’s basement. I knew the book was in there and had eyed it as a potential site of work. Where it came from, I have no idea. I certainly never bought it, nor do I have any recollection of it being read to me as a child. The book is an illustrated children’s story relating the tale of Jumbo the circus elephant; this elephant’s claimed joys and sorrows. How much truth found the page, who knows? However much, I think it’s safe to say that it isn’t a beautiful existence to be a caged animal. Look at us, house bound, screen bound, etc.
Since first considering the text a year ago (perhaps more) both of my grandparents have passed (nearly concluding the generations preceding my own in this family tree), and the book and the container that housed it finally migrated into my own basement where I do much of my visual work, as well as the majority of the labor involved in the production of works for Simulacrum Press. After having circled the book for a period of time I decided to create an erasure text, and to guide the erasure would be the prisoner’s constraint. The prisoner’s constraint consists of the the writer avoiding all letters with ascenders (b, d, f, h, etc.) and descenders (g, j, p, q, y) within the text they are writing, presumably to save precious space on the limited material available to the theoretical prisoner. Having decided this, I proceeded to erase all the words in the text which transgressed the constraint. It was only slightly later that it occurred to me to engage with the pictures which accompany the text. Where with the text I removed, with the pictures I added to. Each picture became a collage. With some I only made minor interventions, a single addition, others more layered. The result is umo.
Read the electronic version here: