A Study of Mundane Being

A Study of Mundane Being is a collaboration between Jeff Downer and Justas Patkauskas:

This project is a case of a photographer and a writer trying very hard not to talk to each other. Dialogue is overrated - most people either speak at or past one another. We wanted to be honest about that and to speak past each other productively. To that end we introduced a recording and censoring device: Under Western Eyes by Joseph Conrad, a novel about the futility of communication. The novel's characters share languages but miss out on common meaning, walk the same streets while living in different worlds. Yet their lives are not tragic. There is a sense of autonomy in their non-alignment.

A joint artistic venture must be a missed encounter, or it risks subjugating one medium to the other. At the very least we wanted to avoid the conceit implicit in commentary. But we couldn't just babble. So what to do about the violence of discourse? Speech always requires a losing side. At last we decided to deface somebody's else's text rather than ours, for which there is no better candidate than an author so famous we could never harm them. To hell with you, Joseph Conrad.

In the end, Under Western Eyes became like a street we both shared: two strangers with their own styles, habits, and preoccupations who have come to recognize each other on their separate ways along a serene boulevard. This book is a travelogue of what we found there.

A Study of Mundane Being is the second volume in the Split Folio series, which commissions London-based authors and artists to collaborate with authors and artists from outside London towards works that uniquely integrate text and image. The series' title irreverently co-opts business language, with 'split folio' traditionally referring to the splitting of expenses by an employee while traveling: the employer reimburses lodging and meals, but incidental expenses that make business travel tolerable (mini-bar purchases, in-room movies, long-distance phone calls) must be made on the employee's dime.

A Study of Mundane Being
Photographs by Jeff Downer;
writings by Justas Patkauskas
ISBN: 978-0-9958831-3-0

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