Impounded [birth certificate], by David Schulz. Published by Shibboleth, Emic Units, 32 pages, Digital printing, Perfect bound, 9 x 12”, Complete box set of 50 zines from 50 different artists, 2023.

This video describes my project, Impounded [birth certificate], part of Emic Units, published by Shibboleth (Milan), which was presented at the New York Art Book Fair, spring, 2024.

Description of Emic Units project from the Shibboleth website: The box contains fifty visual interpretations of the term shibboleth, a word to which no language can lay claim, a hard-to-falsify linguistic sign used to winnow identities in order to establish policies and borders. Each of the fifty booklets is by a different author and is conceived as an exercise book for the social projects we run among the different communities with whom we collaborate long-term.

Shibboleth is the first chapter of “Emic Units”, a series about the migration of ideas explor­ing how far the confines of  meaning can be stretched geographically, historically, metaphorically and visually.

The Library, by David Schulz. Light Rail Works, 112 pages,
Digital printing, Perfect bound, 9 x 12”, edition of 100, 2019.

To purchase the book, please email
davidschulzworks at gmail dot com.

      The Library is a meditation on realization and loss through the practice of reading. After his father’s unexpected death, the author searched for him in selected books from his father’s library in an attempt to access and preserve his (and his father’s) memories and thoughts as well as to give shape to questions about a disturbing past.
      A fugue-structure assembles photographs of books from his father’s library alongside the author’s prose-poems which respond to his reading of those books. As photographs of books bear witness to the objects with which the father had physical contact, the texts emanating from those objects imagine representations of his thoughts as he read. Photo-collages of forests represent the visual thoughts of the author as he attempted to read his own father, who was often obscured by the enigmas of despair and anxiety.
      The multiple voices and narrative perspectives encountered in the books from the library expose a series of formative events within and surrounding the father’s life. They also inspire the author to create an imagined history in the resulting prose-poems.
      The culminating book—a portrait in absentia—creates a parallel reality to his father, one that masks actual memories and obstructs his father’s voice as it probes the space between documentation and invention, and between the imperative to understand and the impossibility of knowing.
      The Library has a second iteration consisting of books referenced in The Library that have been un-bound and reassembled onto a new substrate with binding thread. Onto these pages, one of the forest collages (also from The Library) is printed and distributed over the entire assemblage of pages. This expanded book form includes the corresponding prose-poems printed along the bottom edge of the new assemblages.
      The 2 pieces illustrated below are: Akhmatova, 55” x 40”; and Bulgakov, 37” x 31”. The frames are made of rough-hewn chestnut that was harvested and milled 300 years ago and used in the original farm building in Connecticut where the source images for the forest collages were made.
      Below the assemblages: Double-paged spreads from The Library.

15 Views of Mount Rainier, by David Schulz,
Light Rail Press, 38 pages, Black and White,
Saddlestitched, 7 x 9″, Print-on-Demand Edition
(open), 2011, ISBN# 978-0-9828666-2-7. 

To purchase,please email davidschulzworks
at gmail dot com.

15 Views of Mount Rainier is a book of typographic drawings of Mount Rainier rendered with text acquired from email SPAM.

How The West Was Won. Copyright Applied For.
By David Schulz, Light Rail Works,
ISBN# 978-0-9828666-3-4, 108 pages, Digital Offset
Press (Indigo), Casebound, 7.5 x 9.5”,
edition of 100, 2013. To purchase, please email
davidschulzworks at gmail dot com. $50.

How The West Was Won. Copyright Applied For. investigates the roles of archived documents and literary genres in the creation, preservation, and reconstruction of cultural memory and historical representation.

The Pioneer Pageant of 1923/24 was a theatrical production involving over 3000 local citizens in Walla Walla, Washington, offering a romanticized narrative of “how the west was won.” Archived materials from the Pageant illuminate an expanded field of performance where a strong relationship exists between the ordering structures of material documents and immaterial genres in the narrativization of history.

Comprised of postcards and silver gelatin prints in photo-albums, contracts, meeting minutes, advertising agency reports, newspaper clippings, scripts, scripting notes, and correspondences, How The West Was Won. Copyright Applied For. presents an allegory of history through the executive, administrative, and creative processes of tableau theater by presenting the material conditions out of which the theater came to be in relation to the American myth of “how the west was won.”

This allegory is given further meaning by a series of devised Haiku poems that are sourced from a separate archive of immigration accounts. Individual phrases within each Haiku are based on the observed frequency of recurring events they describe within their stories.

This book project was partly funded by the Penrose Library at Whitman College.

Below: Double-paged spreads from How The West Was Won. Copyright Applied For.

The Terrorist's Handbook, by David Schulz,
LightRailWorks Press, ISBN# 978-0-9828666-1-0,
80 pages, Full Color, Digital Press (Indigo),
Perfect-bound, 10.5 x 7.75″, edition of 100, 9/11/11.
This edition is Sold out.

Throughout the summer of 2011, I made a series of walks in public places in New York City. The walks were concentrated on/in/near major infrastructural elements, such as bridges and subways. During the walks, I made photographs that sought to explore ways that these elements frame our perceptual experience, allowing for a conversion of our quotidian moments into brave navigational conquests of space and understanding. This exploration grew out of my interest in how walking relates to seeing. On each walk, I remained on public paths, platforms, and sidewalks, and stayed away from all "no-trespassing" zones. Similarly, I never photographed in areas prohibiting photography. However, it became clear early on that my simple walking and photographing was a gesture inciting grave suspicion. Each time I photographed, I was stopped by the police, told to erase my images, and hand over my identification. I was asked, "why was I photographing the bridge?" and "what was I doing so far from my neighborhood?"

Now, Google makes it possible to traverse the very same paths and streets my feet carried me on, I can make unlimited screenshots from my virtual walks, free from police interrogation. But somehow, placing myself physically in that space provokes investigation. One can easily see how vulnerable a city is, and that walking in physical space can be a creative act that transforms the walker into a producer through interaction with other people/users. The means of behavioral control in cities are countless, from architectural design to "education" to police enforcement. And one of the biggest challenges faced by our police department in this country is how to negotiate with citizens who are not breaking the law, but who are involved in suspicious activities. The tremendous gray area surrounding photography in "sensitive" areas in urban centers is a battleground that many choose to ignore, even though they may engage with it on a daily basis, complicit in the formation of value-systems that determine what exactly it is that defines "suspicious activities."

As my project evolved, I discovered an online document called the "Terrorist's Handbook" which was created by an unknown author sometime in the last 30 years, edited by countless readers, and freely available on several websites. It consists of recipes for bombs, explosives, and DIY "terrorist" strategies that will disrupt our systems. I began contextualizing my photographs within its structure and found the connections between bomb-making and walking/photographing to be poignant. Other ephemera, such as transcripts of conversations between myself and law-enforcement officials are included on pages within my book.

It is now the 10th-year anniversary of 9/11, and for the week preceding the day of memorial, there has been a constant noise of reporting on possible terrorist activity. Al Qaeda's number two official has supposedly just been imprisoned (and 10 more have taken his place). We are informed of two american citizens of Arab ancestry leaving Afghanistan, traveling through several countries, and ultimately entering the U.S. with the intention of setting off a bomb. How do we know this? A guy in Afghanistan heard it second or third-hand from someone else that this was happening. In Manhattan, police checkpoints have been set up and motorists are detained in traffic. The city has become a giant stage for the perpetual unveiling of terrorist plots, both imagined and real, as we remain speechless by the act and absolute unpredictability of 2 planes flying into the former World Trade Center.

I am reminded of the morning before 9/11 when I awoke at 4:30am, unable to sleep and so got out of bed and made my way to Red Hook, Brooklyn. Red Hook was (and still is) an aberrant neighborhood in New York City, not having access to the subway system. One has to drive, take a bus, or walk down from Carroll Gardens or Park Slope. Its century-old buildings and piers reflected its former ties to New York Harbor and the shipping industry, former bars along Conover Street catered to old sea salts still living in the area. I remember a pack of wild dogs running in the neighborhood. On the morning of 9/10/01, I found myself drawn to the piers leading out into the harbor facing downtown Manhattan and the World Trade Center, which I contemplated and photographed for several hours that morning, unaccosted by police. 24 hours later, those buildings were gone.

Images pictured above and below: Double page spreads from The Terrorist’s Handbook