Found magazine, 2001–2015
The seventh episode of the magCulture Podcast ended with a look back at Found magazine; here’s a visual accompaniment to that Back Issue segment.
Launched by Davy Rothbart in 2001, Found celebrated the discarded notes, lists and photographs of our lives. Rothbart and friend Jason Bitner began collecting material and called on others to contribute finds. The result was 2001’s first issue; despite the colour cover the 80 pages inside were monochrome collages of scanned items presented in rough assemblages with brief details of where each was found.
Part of the appeal was the sheer volume of material, as was the variety of emotion the found items drew from the reader. Ranging from the bizzarely mundane (the shopping list, above) to the tragically melodramatic (below) they hinted at bigger stories and enclouraged the reader to wonder. I love the ‘never used’ added in brackets.
The slightly soiled/damaged nature of the originals is key too. Dog-eared corners and creases are emphasised by the scanning, the pieces standing out in exaggerated 3D against a dull grey background. This scrapbook zine aesthetic suited the content but it was anything but a design classic.
Most of the finds are from the US; but some are from further afield. In the Podcast I quote from this local government letter from the Westminster, London (above) concerning personal hygeine.
Found was at its height as the internet began to take over many of our handwritten communications. Many of these types of message are now expressed digitally, as texts or emails.
The magazine also interviewed artists and others concerned with finding and collecting (above). A more nuanced, themed collection of items concern the 9/11 attack on New York’s World Trade Centre: papers that flew from the offices, missing posters and newspaper excerpts mark the day (below).
Found lasted nine issues, plus a book collection of the first four issues and a brief series of Dirty Found which applied the same concept to sexually explicit material. Rothcart also took the material on a reading tour and a 2006 musical ran in New York, with songs based on the magazines.
The whole idea is ideally suited to digital distrubution, of course, and the @found_zine Instagram feed is still working its way throught the Found archives.