97 Lexicon 97s


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Lexicon 97 is being recalibrated.

As conceived, Lexicon 97 is seemingly a terminal project; 97 discarded t-shirts contribute their words to form the entire lexicon of a freeform book whose pages are blank t-shirts.

That part of the project can be fulfilled; once the freeform book is assembled, and the book is written, its installation is its publication: 


The freeform book of the initial configuration of Lexicon 97 is a tiny chapter in the ever-growing story of discard; this chapter is not meant to be thrown away. 

Conjunctions on the back of each t-shirt page are meant to encourage connection.  The shirts, whether on installation racks or on bodies, can be arranged and rearranged in any order to tell the community story differently, context shifting according to the flexible ordering established moment to moment.  As the project continues, the practice of assigning conjunctions (connective language) to t-shirt page backs is also expected to continue.


But of course publication of the freeform book was not the end of the work; the statistics must be analyzed, implications and consequences of the assembling the freeform book must be determined.  That work may take years.  Because most of the initial 97 t-shirts were manufactured in Honduras, 27.8%, a trip to former/current factory locations might be necessary though the  current  report from the State Department is not encouraging.  However, this travel advisory contrasts sharply with spring break field trips to Honduras to explore businesses and finances of companies, including: a t-shirt factory that exports to the United States, a milk factory, a microfinance institution—Credisol, and a micro business—Garifuna Casabe Tortilla. Dr. Juan Castro, Professor of  Finance and International  Business at LeTourneau University, originally from Honduras organizes these trips which take place without incident as reported on Dr. Castro's page on the LeTourneau website, the source of this field trip information.

Certain information regarding the discarded t-shirts can't be considered.  Because of the circumstances of how I got the shirts, from thrift shops in Washtenaw County where records were not kept for each discarded shirt.  Indeed; the shirts I purchased from Value World were shirts that Value World purchased from Purple Heart, a military organization that collects goods directly from donors, who receive a general contribution receipt, but not an itemized receipt. The organization assists veterans wounded in combat and families of veterans wounded or killed in combat.  In this way, such families  are also being helped to avoid extending the story of discard.  Deadly conflict certainly is part of that story, and part of many other stories, a complex extension and reduction of humanity.

The story of discard is not available for the shirts of the original 97, so that it's almost as if the story of the shirt has been discarded also, exchanged for a new narrative of participation in the Lexicon 97 project.

For some of the future t-shirt acquisition efforts, I plan to solicit donations of t-shirts and a story of the donor's relationship with the t-shirt.  The donor t-shirt narratives will form a book paired, in some form yet to be determined, with the freeform book.  $50.00 will remain the ceiling amount that I can spend in acquiring shirts for a single freeform book.  $50.00 was the amount spent for the original 97 shirts, and I would like to try to maintain this project rule, understanding that observing the fifty dollar rule means that the number of t-shirts collaborating in any of the freeform books to come  will likely fluctuate according to a number of variables, including: thrift shop sale prices, regional price point differences, haggling success at yard sales and flea markets, etc.

This means that the next freeform books may not be assembled from a lexicon of 97 t-shirts.  The number of t-shirts donating their text to the lexicon for their freeform book will vary. 

97, however, will still be a frame for the general project in its recalibrated form:

I will make a total of 97 freeform books representing 97 locations.  So only 96 freeform books to go! —each freeform book made from the lexicon of a variable number of t-shirts costing no more than $50.00 in each location selected to be a freeform book source. 

If a public venue in the area selected to be a freeform book source would like to display the freeform book, the freeform book corresponding to that area will be donated to the public venue for an agreed upon length of time, ranging from, for instance:

97 seconds to 97 minutes to 97 hours to 97 days to 97 weeks to 97 months to 97 seasons to 97 years to 97 eternities.


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