Notes on Design

Tunde Adebimpe

Shortly after I was asked to design this edition of Zoetrope: All-Story, I experienced the sudden loss of a sibling. Making is the healthiest way I know how to process this sort of thing—whether through art or music or writing, it’s a way to keep going, to find out what’s still in there when you feel there’s nothing left.

With the loss of close family or a friend comes the loss of a corroborator. Someone to confirm past events, to laugh at inside jokes, who can say a million words with a single glance. You are inevitably left holding the bag of very specific memories and feelings, and sometimes questioning, Did any of that really happen?

And then you come across objects, writings, boxes of photographs taken before you were even a thought in anyone’s mind. Photos of people you know; of recurring strangers, taken by other strangers; of people you love, long gone, taken by other people you love, also gone. Evidence of beholding: all these people, captured in images, beheld by someone who thought them special enough to carry into the future.

It’s a psychedelic swirl, melancholy and inspiring all at once.

I am grateful for any opportunity to behold (with intention) family and friends and strangers. To rekindle my affection for them, to wonder about them, and to have a mechanism that allows me to document and share the faces and the feelings, no matter how abstract, with others.

Imagine finding a weird, worn paperback in the damp grass of a fall morning on the Great Lawn. Sitting under a birch and flipping through. It smells like the basement of an old bookstore, warms you with its stories, and lulls you hazy. It’s a make-do pillow for a sleepy head that sweats fever and dreams into its leaves and seams. Dyes the whole thing in memory, family, flip-book flashbacks, time hops and hopes. A whorl. A magical object to be held.

I hope you feel it, too.

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