Trace Ingredients

Created during a year-long research/creation residency at the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library in 2007-8, this series of photographs and videos were shown in the library in 2008. These artworks take the serendipitous discoveries and accidental aesthetics of research as their starting point. The nine Book Stack Poems reveal the traces of wear and tear, date stamps, and colourful felt pen marker dots left by circulation staff on the edges of worn books. Conceived as hybrid text pieces/sculptures, seven of the images employ carefully selected book titles to create compound “found poems”. The video Date Stamp is made up of 797 still photographs that document the life of one date stamp, used on the cover of every New Yorker magazine that entered the VPL downtown branch from 1949 to 1964. The video Book Return provided a live feed from the conveyor belt in the basement book return area, allowing fifth floor patrons glimpses of library material re-entering the building. The silent Music video consists of words taken from the titles of music books, edited into a rhythmic sequence based on a standard pop song structure. The exhibition was accompanied by a recital of improvised songs and stories performed by Sawyer with the band ion Zoo.

Exhibition History:

2008 Trace Ingredients Public art commission, exhibit and performance at the Vancouver Public library downtown. Part of the larger project Memory Palace: Three artists in the Library, curated by Karen Love. (Catalogue) Three of the images were made into large banners which were exhibited in the atrium of the library, and remain in the library’s permanent collection.


Memory Palace (3 artists in the library): Angela Grauerholz, Carol Sawyer, Esther Shalev-Gerz. Karen Love, editor. Vancouver: Doryphore Independent Curators, City of Vancouver Public Art Program, 2013.
The Georgia Straight, June 12-19, 2008, p.54.Sawyer’s images sing in library’s lyrical voice, by Robin Laurence.