U of Wisconsin, Madison

Sarah Jane Ripp

Sarah Jane Ripp
Art 699: Independent Study / Photography
Digital Prints
2 prints in an ongoing series (20+ total)

In this series I am exploring books as a system of record keeping. Close, detailed frames are used in the photographs to examine books as a collection of handwritten records, labels and sentiments. Attention is drawn to texture, wear and marks found upon the pages, covers, edges and spine of each book to emphasize the handwriting that has been scribed upon these surfaces. The books are objects that once belonged to someone. They have been dismissed and cast off to second hand shops, making these once private messages publicly available. All of the writing is found and unaltered.

5 thoughts on “Sarah Jane Ripp”

  1. I think the concept behind your work is really interesting, it’s always fascinating to read the thoughts of people from the generations before you. Especially since most of the stuff you are photographing was likely unnoticed until now. One thing that might work well with your idea it to see if it’s possible to find the dates these books were published, or if anyone who wrote in the book left behind a date. That way you can better idea of what decade these people were living in, and how it influenced them.

  2. I love how you are using found materials and making them relevant in the genre of photography. Being a painter, I tend to incorporate used books into my collages, but never thought that they could be meaningful as individual objects until now. Not only are they aesthetically interesting, but they create a narrative that has just enough mystery to interest and encourage the viewer to fill in the blanks.

  3. This is a fascinating concept. There is some mystery to what might be found in books, not just writing on its pages, but physical mementos left in its pages as well. Everyone has experienced messages and items left behind in a book. This project has a sensory quality; as someone who frequents libraries and book resellers, I can almost feel the texture of the pages and smell the books themselves. Books have a life, one that is enriched by the various owners if they choose to leave a message within. Message inside books can mark important life events like birthdays; graduations, new friendships, romances or marked up by sheer boredom. This series leaves me wanting to see what more, to be privy to those messages left behind. The image on the bottom has a menacing top-secret and classified appearance juxtaposed to the illustration of a sunshiny family enjoying themselves at a picnic. It makes one wonder why someone took the time to blacken out the written words. In an age when we are quickly relinquishing the physical book to an electronic file, it seems like an important moment in history to document that relationship owners had with their books.

  4. Sarah,

    I saw your BFA(?) show of these photos.(?) I really hope you are continuing with this series and are applying to graduate school! They were very compelling! I commented that they began to take on a aesthetic of modern painting. Is this something you could fiddle around with?

  5. Sarah is a very skilled photographer, which is why I am slightly disappointed with her first image here. The pattern is lovely and at first I was quite taken with the picture but I began to wonder what makes this a photograph and not a document, since it almost looks like a straight digital scan. But Sarah has a knack for finding wonderful books to compliment her idea and these are both great finds, they both have such a sense of mystery. I do wish there were more of a connection across her photos of this subject, like if she acquired several books owned by one person that could give us a larger picture of a life instead of just the one moment we get from her photos.

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