Apparently, one legitimate type of academic research methodology is called the ‘snowball’ sample. As the name implies, this works by one piece of information connecting to several others, each of which leads to more knowledge being gathered, resulting in an ever-growing ball of research.
Some artists work in a similar manner, picking up information as they roll through the world, which, in the process of collation, grows into something whose structure creates its own momentum. Emmett Walsh’s title suggests that this process has a near infinite capacity. His book comprises 14 items of print and an audio CD.
Three pamphlets provide the bulk of the textual content. They mix travelogue and observational narrative with factual discourse. One, ‘1929 tour’, weaves together such figures as Forest Mars Jr, billionaire heir to the chocolate-coated caramel empire, Mexican revolutionary Emilio Zapata and English writer John Sillitoe in a tale of mineral rights, cycling and thoroughbred horses. Elsewhere, in a ‘celestial drama’, Peter Andre dialogues with Claude Lévi Strauss.
The other artefacts include poetry and prints—images and words in letterpress gathered together in a folder for the reader to ponder and arrange as appropriate. ‘I want to blow out the Moon’ repeats a child’s voice on the CD, underlining the hubristic ambition of the project. Luckily, unlike many who produce such preciously manufactured tomes, Walsh is not in thrall to the loveliness of his materials; the medium is rigorously at the service of the ideas, which are abundant.
Martin Vincent is a writer and publisher