The impossible scale of cities

The things that people do and make when they’re crowded together: stand on top of each other; build a sky from glass; cut into the past with shards of what could be, if we keep going.

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I walk a big-city street and feel held in by the upward expanses. The sound of everything is almost a muffling of any one thing. The scale of it is immediately comprehensible when I’m on foot, inside of it. Gigantic.

But if I make a photo, and try to get that actual scale to fit into a frame—suddenly the size of nothing makes sense. The big things are small, but don’t end. The big things are surrounded by ever bigger things, that are also small once they jump inside the edges of a photo. I could fit one million myselves into the buildings nestled in the photo, but I scan it all with my entire eye in one second. Just one eye ever would catch it all, in a picture.

And on the street I see almost none of it, because I’m inside of it. It is a living thing and I’m a floating organism. And I’m inconsequential, and the scale of me is also impossible. Impossibly small. The bigness of me is made smaller and smaller within the edges of the city.

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A new thing: The Fifty-two Twelve Project

If there were a year to choose to be unafraid of my own voice, this is it. And a year to amplify to the voices of others, this year, too.

The Fifty-two Twelve Project will be this for me:

Every month, I'll create and publish a new print. I'll use color, even. And words. Things a little more dangerous than the black-and-white patterns I've made in the past (that I will continue to make because my brain still works this way). But color and words? You'll see straight into my head, unabstracted and without so much room for interpretation.

Every week, I'll buy from and tell you about a woman who makes a thing (art, soap, stationery, jewelry, furniture ... ). Sending my money to these women is important. Telling you about them is important. Each of those things can serve a purpose on its own, but doing them together carries a particular weight, in this moment. This moment may last a year. This moment may splay into many years.

I welcome anyone else who wants to, to join. Tell about the women you support; show the work you do. [Lord. I'm creating a hashtag: #fiftytwotwelve]

Print One

I actually couldn't stop at a single print for January. There are two more in my stack of loose graph paper. And this one—I'm still shaping it. I think. But this is the gist.


And the gist of the year ahead, maybe.

Eventually (soon) this will find its final shape and I'll let you know what that is, and give you a peep at the two others. And get them printed on large pieces of paper and notebooks; and ship them to you, if you want.

And then I'll come back and do this again. And again. Until all the words are out of this head and on paper, to be consumed and repeated by anyone who finds resonance with them.

[Woman One will be reserved for later in the week, to stand alone.]