Liz Sales is cataloged as a bibliographic item with International Center of Photography Library. A bibliographic item can be any information entity (e.g., books, computer files, graphics, realia, cartographic materials, or in Liz’s case, Liz) that is considered library material as far as it is relevant to the catalog and to the patrons of the library in question. Liz is the only human being recognized by the Library of Congress as a library holding and has an assigned Library of Congress and ISBN #. For more information about Liz look up her library record at either WorldCat or go to The ICP Library and click on “search the Library’s online catalogue.”www.lizsales.com
AGE / SEX / LOC?
Osvaldo Pontón; Scrapped co-founder and editor. Dislikes talking about pumpkins, is comfortable around aging Eastern Europeans.
Liz Sales; artist, bibliographic item, redhead. Likes the stuffiness of stuff, doesn’t bait her own hook.
Osvaldo Pontón: A/S/L?
Liz Sales: 34/f/Brooklyn
OP: Hi there! How are you?
LS: I’m doing wonderfully. I’m spending the evening with Lawrence Wright’s book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief , and my cat, who is also a large redhead.
How are you?
OP: Wonderful as well. I’m spending the evening with Roberto Bolaño’s book, The Savage Detectives and my visiting friend Jerzy, who is tall and Polish and asleep on an air mattress next to my bed.
LS: I haven’t read The Savage Detectives but, I love the cover.
...and sometimes I judge books that way.
OP: Then you are halfway there.
OP: So, I googled your name, because that is the only method of research I posses, and I came out with this description of you: “1 person: 206 bones, 10 major organ systems, includes skin (pink), hair (red), skeletal muscles and smooth muscles, nervous system, blood (O Negative), brain. 165.1 x 50.8 cm.”
LS: That’s me!
OP: It also states that you are a book.
LS: Liz Sales is cataloged as “bibliographic items.”
But a bibliographic item can be any information entity, like e-books, computer files, graphics, cartographic materials, or in my case, me.
OP: How exactly did that happen? And are you available on Amazon Prime?
LS: I am not available on Amazon Prime, as I am a unique item (there is only one of me). But, you can look up me up at either WorldCat (The Library of Congress’s Catalog) or go to The ICP Library and click on “search the Library’s online catalogue.”
OP: Are you using WorldCat as an erudite’s OkCupid?
LS: I am not. But you can look me up on OkCupid as well.
Oh wait, you can’t.
I can change my gender preference so you can look me up on OkCupid. There’s always a work around, right?
OP: Maybe change it to bibliographic item?
I have a good mind to derail this entire conversation into an OKCupid storytellers support group.
Let’s instead talk a bit about your work, some of which is heavily centered around old photo processes.
LS: That’s true; I like to combine old and new technology.
OP: ...And also to hide contraptions inside books.
LS: I do that as well. A few years ago I collected Modern Library books and stitched each shut, converting them into image viewing devices, music boxes, or these sort of textual dioramas.
OP: Like using a storytelling device to tell a different story.
LS: Yes, absolutely, that was how I was thinking about it. Looking back at it now, I [recognize myself as] an odd little thing hidden in a book, too.
OP: You seem fascinated with making unique objects.
LS: I’m a bit of Frankenstein (The Modern Prometheus, not the monster); I love that all things possess the potential to become something weird and wonderful. That objects have lives, not static identities. And if given sentience and opportunity, what pumpkin wouldn’t want to turn into a camera?
OP: A stupid pumpkin. The worst pumpkin in the patch. I don’t even want to talk about that pumpkin.
For this issue of Scrapped, you went above and beyond the call of duty. You handmade 250 cyanotypes from digital video portraits that are distorted by the addition of audio into the file. As you know, those cyanotypes are included in each printed copy of Issue II. It’s interesting that you made what is usually a unique, singular piece into an almost mass-produced item.
LS: It was a totally ridiculous undertaking.
OP: Very important: that audio happens to be The Magnetic Fields’ “69 Love Songs.”
LS: That’s what made it fun!
OP: I believe that project description would turn on the entire Williamsburg OKCupid population.
LS: That’s funny. Magnetic Fields’ “69 Love Songs” reminds me of a different place and time. I went to The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington in the late ’90s.That album came out in ’99.
OP: I feel it has a revival every February in Williamsburg. It plays in every coffee shop and store.
LS: I steer clear of Williamsburg, I don’t like the architecture. And the people are eerily attractive.
OP: I live in Greenpoint. I’m more comfortable myself amongst the aging Eastern Europeans.
Can you tell me a little about your marble cameras?
LS: They’re handmade film cameras that use marbles as lenses.
I started using marbles awhile ago, after I found a small chest full of semi-transparent marbles among my old things. I’d been looking at artists who were using found objects to build cameras. A lot of it seemed shtick-y. I was thinking about turning found objects into lenses instead. A camera body does not shape an image in the same way that a lens does. I wanted to make images that showed optical mark-making from its capture. Images that were particular to their camera. Make photographs that looked less like how we see or how we think we see.
OP: The images from this project reflect how that particular marble would “see.” It’s like you’re giving these objects their own personalities.
LS: I do like to anthropomorphize. And I have a tendency toward pareidolia.
And Oliver Sacks.
OP: “Pareidolia,” for those readers without my same level of access to Wikipedia, is “a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant. Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon or the Moon rabbit, and hearing hidden messages on records when played in reverse.”
LS: I’ve never seen the Moon rabbit. I’ll have to look out for him.
OP: I fear that now you will convert a dead rabbit into a camera (eyeball lenses) and take pictures of the moon.
I feel responsible :(
LS: You could make a rabbit into a camera, a smelly, smelly camera.
You couldn’t do 4x5.
OP: It would have to be a very large rabbit…
…A hare perhaps?
LS: I don’t even bait my own hook. I think I’ll have to skip it.
OP: Perhaps for the best. Certainly best for the rabbit.
A lot of your work does seem to be based around physical books, but not their content. You enjoy gutting books.
A more powerful Google search also informs me that you work at the ICP Library, which makes a lot of sense. Where does the book fixation come from? (And how can we be sure that you won’t be gutting all of those copies of Robert Frank’s The Americans ? ...making it impossible for black and white darkroom teachers to show their students how the great master did it).
LS: I was reading a collection of short stories by the Argentine author/ librarian/ superhero Jorge Luis Borges when I started working with books.
Reading is an all-encompassing experience and I enjoy making work that references that and hopefully also provides that experience itself.
[Long pause in conversation]
Did I lose you to The Savage Detectives? It does have a great cover.
OP: No, whenever I see the “write bubbles” icon appear I wait to see if you will write first.
Should we use this opportunity to let your friends know that you’d like a Kindle for your birthday?
LS: You literally made me laugh out loud.
OP: So I’m assuming you don’t want a Kindle.
Since you can’t put a camera inside it.
LS: I’m not a neo-ludd, I promise. I just like the stuff-iness of stuff.
The internet tells me you can get a Kindle that already has a camera inside.
OP: We certainly live in the future.
LS: Oh no! It’s the future already.
OP: On that note, I think we should call it day. Thanks so much for participating in Scrapped. And for putting an absurd amount of work into it.
LS: My pleasure. It was lovely talking to you. Say hello to Jerzy when he wakes up.