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PRINT February 2020

books

LEAVES OF GRASS

Michelle Stuart, Project for a Chart of the Earth Reflecting the Sky, 1983, plaster, handmade paper, earth from Zagora, Morocco, 17 1⁄2 × 21 1⁄2 × 2".

SCROLL WAS FIRST USED AS A VERB in the 1600s to describe a particular method of writing. Its current definition, having more to do with the navigation of text than with its creation, was introduced in the early 1970s, at the same time that Michelle Stuart finished her first banner-like frottage of a patch of ground—in this case, in Woodstock, New York. In the contemporary context, scrolling is so effortless—requiring just the touch of a finger to touch pad or screen—that it hardly seems to qualify as an action. But centuries ago, it might have involved slowly unwinding yards of parchment from the umbilicus (the supporting rod or baton) or painstakingly gluing sheets of handmade papyrus together to lengthen an ongoing record. The motions associated with these older scrolls were rendered largely unnecessary after the rise of the codex, which, with its individual pages, was easier

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