Brain Pickings

AnthroPosts: Analog Post-It Found Art, Digitized

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Voyeurism, organic apricots, and indulging the human penchant for patternicity.

Since October 16, 2007, digital artist Noah Pedrini has been combining two of our favorite things: Found art and sticky-notes. Collecting other people’s discarded Post-Its from Brooklyn to Boston to Buenos Aires, he created AnthroPosts — a fascinating collection of more than 300 found Post-Its that offers both an analog antidote to and a narrative parallel of today’s fragmented, short-form digital communication.

This very second, someone, somewhere, is busy jotting something down on a Post-it® note. A phone number, a grocery list, a reminder. And there is someone who has just finished dialing, just finished buying, just been reminded; and is now tossing the pastel-colored square on the ground.

You can explore the collection in a number of interactive ways, organizing the notes by complexity (how much has been written on them), color (intensity and hue), and common words (“chicken” and “please” are particularly prominent staples of Post-It vocabulary), while a voiceover stream reading the notes gives the experience an almost haunting quality.

And while privacy crusaders would no doubt frown, we love the lean-back voyeurism the project exudes. (As opposed to the more lean-forward kind of PostSecret and We Feel Fine‘s content, actively and purposefully contributed by users.) AnthroPosts offers quiet insight into the most mundane reality of people’s lives, tickling your imagination to fill the voids in the process — from the person’s romantic relationships (“organic apricots for Tess” on a shopping list whispers of young love) to what they do for a living (“property code 8043″ could belong to a bland building inspector, or to the right-hand-man of a mafia kingpin) to complete life stories (apples and milk on a shopping list in Russia paint pictures of New York’s newest, most wide-eyed immigrants).

I know many might not see them quite like I do, inadvertent messages in a bottle, but that’s okay. If some find an appreciation in the curves of an “S”, the vertical symmetry of an “E”, or the self-similarity of an “A”, I’ll keep collecting, and sharing what I find here, for those willing to look.

Mostly, we love that AnthroPosts feeds our hard-wired human tendency to look for patterns in everything, to build storytelling around even the most barren of narrative landscapes and create meaning where there’s only a hint thereof.

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