Reading Between the Lines

Have you ever noticed that sometimes spam emails contain the most interesting images? In an effort to encrypt their messages, thus bypassing inbox filters, many spammers will convert their text to an image format, and the pixellated camouflage of these images is very often very beautiful. This junk mail camo finds its origin in what artist Elizabeth Duffy calls "analog mail." She and the team at Purgatory Pie Press sifted through their mail to collect envelopes containing security patterns, images of which they've subsequently published in a hand-made book called Enclosure Exposure: Data Protection Patterning. The piece is the newest in PPP's "InstaBook" subscription series of DIY, folded, single-sheet books. There's something about the automation, the serialization, and the repetition of these patterns and even this book itself that make the project intriguing. The patterns are an institutionalized veil between what is and isn't meant to be seen, and like visually-encrypted spam messages, the banality of their simple, mostly monochromatic, repeated lines and overlapping patterns adds up to something much more formally interesting. - Marisa Olson

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