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Reference Manual

Tracy Ma
self published
Artists' Books
12.5 × 20 × 2 cm

Reference Manual for Boredom and Distraction symbolizes the experience of going out in the world and feeling like one has entered an enormous and over-whelming library where one desires to try and grasp every bit of information. This project shows that we no longer see any one thing individually, every image or idea becomes juxtaposed with many others at any given moment, and these then become tacked to the abundance of ideas we have collected in our minds. An attempt to organize or make sense of these easily accessible ideas inevitably ends in further distraction.

This book presents a theoretical process of obsessively collecting unrelated fragments of information from the world and re-organizing them in an attempt to make sense of the vast chaos. Meaning is exterior to what is actually seen, all information has been divorced from its original context and organized as if for future reference. Theoretically, then, this reference book would be carried through the world and referred to as a guide to making sense. However, such a goal could never possibly be achieved.

Formally, this book is created to look as though it is an outdated mass-marketed paperback, as if purchased from a second-hand bookstore. Each item in this reference book is numbered, and therefore refers to something outside of itself. Each image speaks to the overwhelming bank of images of which it is a part. Human beings, crowds, homecoming queens, chairs, geishas, beautiful boys, meals, architecture, interiors, bicycles, cars, bears, toys, diagrams, mathematical equations, electronics, household items, taken out of context and replaced in a new one. The manual is a reference for something external to what is actually at hand. The user goes through the book knowing that the real meaning of what is presented has been omitted, and has also become impossible to locate. The real meaning of any one thing becomes secondary in importance, more compelling is what is immediately available next. This mimics the overwhelming experience of traveling through the contemporary landscape, seeking to categorize too much knowledge one could ever hope to grasp.

  1. Reference Manual

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