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Anatomy of a Junk Drawer

Project Junk Drawer:
What does your junk say about you?

An Introduction: The Ubiquity of the Drawer

Those of us who have a junk drawer in our homes, think of them as a simple and utilitarian space within a home. You may have one in your kitchen, or living room, maybe in your garage, bathroom or even in your “office”. How often though, do we think of this space as one that could be analyzed or deciphered? When was the last time you looked in your junk drawer and thought, “What’s in here and why?” What events in your life do the forgotten items in this hidden space recall? Does that flashlight have any significance? How about that takeout menu? What would you never order again from that place? Why are there dead batteries in there? What about that receipt from the Continental restaurant in Philly? What a great night that was! What a restaurant! Those little parfaits they had for dessert were so good I could have eaten 20 of them!

We all use spaces like junk drawers for those uncategorizable items in our possession. It could be some relic from a concert we want to cherish, it could be that telephone wall jack that we don’t want to throw out (just in case). Whatever the case may be, the junk drawer becomes a site for a very specific use, regardless of how disorganized or scattered the items within it may see.

What’s in my junk drawer?
I know that the cable release for my Canon SLR is in that junk drawer in the living room. I always keep a few pens in there too, and a screwdriver. My girlfriend has some things in there too, but I bet she wishes it were used for something else…I'm a closet collector, as in- I have so much junk it's in out closets too.

So how do these spaces function in someone else’s home?
Is it different in Israel? Hong Kong? Do people in Sweden have the same “junk” in their junk drawers as I do? Are we all so very different? Or, do we categorize the uncategorized things in our lives in similar ways? There are different ways to go about finding answers to this question; one of them is in front of you now, as you read this proposal. Flickr.

Call for Submissions: Take part in creating a typology of Junk Drawers

Following the primary examples offered, photograph a junk drawer in your home, a friend or colleagues home, or if you have more than one drawer, photograph them all! Take care to include some basic information in the form of tags that address the following things:

What room is it in?
“Living room”, den, kitchen, garage, bedroom, bathroom, “studio apartment”, etc…remember that quotes will keep separate words together.

Where are you located?
Geotag and add the city or town and country, zip code, etc… as much as you can (or feel comfortable adding). You do not need to specify your street address or house number.

Tag (and note) all the items in the drawer including GPS.
Like the examples in the group pool, tag and note as many items as you can. If you can't identify everything in there that’s fine (I have keys in my junk drawer that have been useless for years…or so I think…). Oh and GPS is required by the group rules so that we can track where all your drawers are from, so please at least narrow it down to a city!

Do any of the items trigger a memory?
Do you want to tell us a story about something in the drawer? Please share with us any stories that come to mind.


Shoot your drawer open and from directly above the drawer, remove the drawer if it's easier to get an overhead shot of it. If you have to use a flash, putting 2-3 pieces of the non-clear scotch tape over your flash will help to diffuse the light. If that doesn't help, put a piece of paper an inch or so in front of the flash- don't block the lens!

So what’s the big idea? “The Categorizing of the Uncategorized”

The more submissions we have, the broader our view will be of how people use this very specific kind of space. The junk drawer is something that very clearly defines us as collectors, gatherers, and organizers. But where does this level of domestic organization break down and will we see that break down within this collection of images? Obviously we cannot suppose that the collection gathered here will be a definitive conclusion about how humans organize “the uncategorical”. It will however, provide us with examples from around the world that we hope will expose nuances that are shared amongst groups. How those groups are broken up has yet to be determined.

The images in this project are requested for their acquisition and use within the framework of a online art project that will categorize the images by their tags and text elements. The more tags and stories that can be added, the richer the content of the final product. This project is generative, meaning that it is developing as the works are submitted. Because of this, there is no final prescribed use of the images or text.



Thanks for Participating!