Emotional Treasures, Emotional Revelations Socially Engaged Art Project for the Stony Brook Frank Melville Jr. Memorial Library
Professor Nobuho Nagasawa, Art Department
Location: Central Reading Room of Frank Melville Jr. Memorial Library
Date: Monday, November 11 through Wednesday, December 4, 2019
“Emotional Treasures, Emotional Revelations” creates human connections.
This project is a metaphorical “treasure hunt” in that Stony Brook community will participate in the socially engaged art practice. It initiates unexpected human connections through powerful intimate stories that invite us to open ourselves and thus become more human. This project creates a place for interactive social events through the medium of books. Students, faculty and the general public from all walks of life are welcome to participate.
When books are purchased online, a recommendation algorithm automatically suggests related books to the user so that one can purchase books without visiting the bookstores. This is an art project that creates serendipity that is not possible with online book purchases. Serendipity means meeting a wonderful coincidence or discovering something utterly unexpected. It can trigger a special encounter.
The library will gather used books in the Central reading room. At the start of the event, I will hand over a blank 8.5×11 inch piece of paper to each of the people and instruct them to create a small four-fold palm-size booklet. I will then ask them to write in the booklet a confession or secret that they have never shared. The text can be written in any style, short text, bullet point, or as a poem or prose. The only condition is that the confession must be truthful and remain anonymous. The person who writes the confession then selects a book from the free book stacks and inserts this booklet with their confession inside their chosen book. Browsers then pick up one of the free books. You may or may not come across a book with a “confession.” The event generates interactions between people and the goal is to create and foster “social intimacy.”
The person who picks up a book containing a booklet with a confession reads the text and adds comments to the empty pages of the booklet. This booklet is then placed on a specific bookshelf in the library. Regardless of whether you find a booklet or not in your free book, you can eventually take a book of your choice for free. People can then return to the library and check out the small booklets of confession add more comments to them so that the confession and the comments will be handed down from person to person on the newly born bookshelf revealing a private confession in a public space.
Discovering new things that you did not expect and touching upon someone’s “secret” or “confession” creates an unexpected encounter. Even in a society where everything is exposed to social media, it seems to be difficult to make a confession, to reveal your secret or sinful desire. However, the act of confessing secrets is deeply linked to the fundamental human condition, to liberation, and social intimacy. This project serves as a medium to liberate people’s minds. Sharing a secret transforms from an act of personal disclosure to a collective act of forgiveness, understanding, and compassion.
Opening these booklets will open your heart.