Lexicon 97: about the Washtenaw County discarded t-shirts

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ABOUT THE LEX-97


For the Lexicon 97 project, I purchased 97 t-shirts from Ann Arbor area thrift shops: Value World in Ann Arbor, Value World in Ypsilanti, Value World in Westland, and The Salvation Army in Ann Arbor.  Total cost of these discarded shirts was only $50.00, largely because of chance shopping at the Salvation Army on two days on which t-shirts with a certain color tag were five for a dollar.  The bargain may have been helped by off-season interest in t-shirts.

In all cases, the t-shirts were donated, directly to The Salvation Army by the donors or current possessors of the t-shirts, and indirectly to Value World by the donors or current possessors of the t-shirts who make their donations directly to Purple Heart, a source nonprofit organization from which Value World purchases its goods.  

From what I've been told, most donated goods sold in the local thrift stores were donated in the county.  Other donations travel further, mimicking the journey of goods and their components in the multiple locations involved in the manufacturing of a single product —including t-shirts (see the statistics below).


On the left is detail from a temporary draped collage of two shirts purchased for the project.  Both shirts are skeletal remains.  They are shown here in their post lexicon mining form. That they can be shown only in a post lexicon mining form perhaps is an outcome of my negligence; I did not think to photograph the shirts prior to cutting out the words.   On the right is detail of an image of images of insects greatly magnified with a scanning electron microscope, as these magnifications appear on the front of a shirt found in the boy's section of the thrift shop.  The appearance of these insects  is the same pre and post lexicon mining. 


During the collection phase, which spanned ten months, the ambition was considerably more modest than it has become; I needed shirts with words so that those words could be rescued, and reconfigured into ideas ideally more far-reaching, more probing of possibility than the words attained as graphic tees.  As I did not plan to use the skeletal remains of the mined t-shirts for the project, cutting proceeded without assigning value to the skeletal remains which would have been discarded again, to textile recyclers.   Only when I looked carefully at a pile of mined shirts did I notice the beautiful absence, did I contemplate removal more extensively, did I comprehend the silencing of the shirts, did I realize that I left behind jagged frames in the shirts, windows with a hard-fought existence.  The raggedness of the frame was quite apparent to the unassisted eye, but I do plan to scan much of this jaggedness with my USB microscope.  Once that scanning happens, some iteration of the outcome system will appear on this site.  

Even before the microscope reveals detail just outside the range of unassisted human seeing (I will scan at 10x, 50x, and maybe also 400x —the limits of my USB microscope system), the magnificence of the t-shirt skeletons is apparent.  Glorious raggedness.  Wonderful peepholes —the modest should wear something under them.  Any wearer may decide what will peek through, what will be exposed, what will be revealed by placement of the ragged frame.      Portable textile billboards.       Chance may also collaborate with configuration of exposure, as it did when my classes modeled the skeletons so beautifully —I am indebted to them.

I also did not count all the words mined.  I cannot report here the boundaries of the lexicon, but I do have some statistics to share.  While words were sorted according to parts of speech, I did not count the number of ands, for instance, nor the number of instances of you which dominated the pronouns.  

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SOME STATISTICS

related to the 97

 



WHERE THE 97 T-SHIRTS WERE MANUFACTURED & NUMBER OF SHIRTS MANUFACTURED IN THOSE LOCATIONS:

                

 

China

El Salvador

Haiti

Honduras

Indonesia

Mexico

Nicaragua

Pakistan

Taiwan

USA

unknown


 1

10

10

27

 1

11

 5

 2

 1

10

 6


 


T-SHIRTS MANUFACTURED IN MULTIPLE LOCATIONS & THE NUMBER OF SHIRTS MANUFACTURED IN THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES:


Canadian Components, Assembled in Honduras

Components made in USA, Assembled in Haiti

Fabric made in USA, Assembled in Mexico

Parts made in USA, Assembled in Mexico

USA Fabric, Assembled in El Salvador

1

1

3

5

3


PERCENTAGES

China

El Salvador

Haiti

Honduras

Indonesia

Mexico

Nicaragua

Pakistan

Taiwan

USA

unknown

  1.0%

10.3%

10.3%

27.8%

 1.0%

11.3%

 5.2%

 2.0%

 1.0%

10.3%

 6.2%

Canadian components/ assembled Honduras           1.0%

 

Components made in USA/assembled Haiti         1.0%

 

Fabric made in USA /assembled Mexico         3.1%

 

Parts made in USA /assembled Mexico         5.2%

USA fabric/assembled el salvador                        3.1%

 


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