archive title: sheik
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notes: this piece was donated anonymously to the j.s.morrison collection in august of 2003. the small packing crate which held this artifact had no markings other than the word “sheik” stenciled on the bottom. the script used has not as of yet been identified or translated.


archive title: burlesque
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notes: a peasant brandishing a pitchfork watching as flames rise. is this an uprising?  a royal seal completes this artifact. why burlesque? is it because to the powerful the anger of the trod upon is rich source of comedy? or is it rather that like burlesque uprisings are a thing of the past, a lost art of sorts?


archive title: feldspar
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notes: feldspar-from the german “feldt spat”, meaning “field rock”. feldspar makes up as much as 60% of the earth’s crust. moonstone (chem comp: KAISi3O8) is a type of feldspar associated with the astrological sign of cancer, the crab. primitive peoples believe that carrying a moonstone in the mouth will aid memory. 


archive title: hydra
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notes: 1835, genus name of a freshwater polyp, from greek, hydra, many-headed water serpent, slain by hercules, from hydor (gen. hydatos) “water,” related to sanskrit, udrah “aquatic animal.” used figuratively for “any multiplicity of evils.” the calligraphy in this artifact has proven to be untranslateable. 


archive title: ballad
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notes: the calligraphy, though seemingly, arabic does not fall squarely into the kufic, naskh, thuluth, ta’liq, riq’a, or diwani styles and is in fact unreadable. the hunt scene, whether metaphoric or litteral, seems to place this artifact outside of islamic orthadoxy. it is painted on an unkown textile.


archive title: buto
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notes: a form of dance. improvisational and often disturbing. evokes images of decay, fear, desparation, ecstasy, and stillness. buto: a prehistoric city, once the capital of lower egypt, having a temple dedicated to the serpent goddess buto. the inclusion of western text and motifs is of unknown significance.


archive title: garland
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notes: text may be a quote from english poet francis quarles (1592-1644). the symbol at bottom left is an ouroboros, a serpent swallowing it’s own tail. first seen 1600 bc in egypt, also in phonecian, greek, norse, gnostic, hindu myth, and in alchemy. symbolizes eternity / the self-sufficient cycle of nature.


archive title: marquis
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notes: marquis. as in de sade? de condorcet? de lafayette? de carabas? or perhaps as in marquis reagent, the spot-test to identify alkaloids, composed of formaldehyde and concentrated sulfuric acid? strychnine?  morphine? codeine? yohimbine? but why? a pun? marquee? all three? 


archive title: riposte
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notes: riposte 1707, in fencing “a quick thrust after parrying a lunge.” 1865, in speech “sharp retort.” the segmented snake is clearly the famous “join or die” imagery representing the states of the early union. the text must then be a retort? though untranslatable perhaps it’s meaning is as simple as “toy.”


archive title: bacco
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notes:, 1/2 of michelangelo’s bacco, his first roman work. the feet of bacchus, lover of peace, associations- satyrs, centaurs and sileni. the thyrsus. the grapevine. the toxic ivy plant. the fig. also satyr holding grapes. roguish but faint-hearted. subversive, dangerous, but shy. lovers of wine and women. satyrs do grow old.


archive title: holiday
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notes: this artifact is in a calligraphic style often seen in islamic scripts. it exhibits the classic bending of the calligraph into a figurative form, transmuting one symbol into another, often zoomorphic, in this case in the form of a sword. unfortunately this aggressive calligraph has thus far resisted translation. 


archive title: yuri
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notes: this artifact arrived in an envelope marked yuri. yuri is a common russian name meaning “farmer, to work the earth”. this image seems to show a group gathering in defense, or perhaps offense. a revolution? alternately yuri, in japanese anime slang, is a term for lesbian relations. significant?


archive title: hark
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notes: c.1175, from old english heorcian (hearken), to hark back (1829) “to remember or to cause to remember something from the past.” originally refers to hounds returning along a track when the scent has been lost. used mostly in the imperative (see herald); “hark! listen!”


archive title: monita
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notes: monita possibly from monita secreta, the faked jesuit code of instructions from 1611? visual cues of this artifact include papyrus (egypt? the holy see?) untranslatable text (arabic?), stamped sun motif (eastern?), and lion in the byzantine manner (rome? persia?) is this amalgam a symbolic monita secreta? 


archive title: par
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notes: one of the strictly western artifacts in the collection par was in fact titled by j.s.morrison himself. the form of a united states patent with all text blacked out. the seal, applied after the obscuring of text, depicts an owl. thanks to advanced algorithms the full text can now be viewed as well. full text of par


archive title: mercer
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notes: mercer (mûrser) etymology: middle english, from old french mercier, trader, from merz, merchandise. also street in new york’s soho section. this artifact- a wall, graffiti including unreadable text, a herd animal of some sort, in the style of a medieval bestiary. peeling paint. merchandise?


archive title: halcyon
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notes: halcyon: a mythological bird supposed to have a calming influence on the sea at the time of winter solstice. also an ancient work purportedly written by plato but of dubious authorship. usage: tranquil, peaceful, calm, placid, carefree. as in halcyon days of childhood. graffito is of unknown origin or language.


archive title: laurels
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notes: “as to what we call the masses, and common men; there are no common men. all men are at last of a size; and true art is only possible, on the conviction that every talent has its apotheosis somewhere. fair play, and an open field, and freshest laurels to all who have won them! -emerson


archive title: shanty
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notes: writing on the wall. “where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is in an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” -f.douglas


archive title: mmclxxvi
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notes: this artifact came into the possession of the j.s.morrison collection only recently. whilst attending a round table discussion about the present state of futurism one of the collection’s curators left his seat for a moment returning to find “mmclxxvi” on his chair. all present denied seeing anyone placing it there. 


archive title: the clash
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notes: a large stylized calligraph of unknown though possibly arabic in origin. the gryphon with countless associations both geographically (eqypt, persia, greece...) and symbolically (good or evil, guarding or devouring, strength or arrogance) now most often associated with medieval heraldry. 


archive title: visio
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notes: vision c.1300, “something seen in the imagination or in the supernatural,” from Anglo-Fr. visioun, O.Fr. vision, from L. visionem, root visio “sight, thing seen.” perhaps the most “seen” woman in history pictorially and otherwise. here in what appears to be ballpoint pen. a study or reportage?


archive title: mosaic
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notes: a combination or byzantine era roman tile work, eastern seeming characters, and a central skull motif. this artifact came into the possession of the j.s.morrison collection under curious circumstances. the language is none known. reports of “unfortunate incidents” seem to follow this piece.


archive title: eidolon
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notes: 1) a phantom; an apparition. 2) an image of an ideal. root of idolatry. this artifact- is the eidolon the west’s view of the east? a figment? the easts view of itself? an ideal, virgins waiting to console heros? or more universally man’s view of women? the text, meant perhaps to clarify, is unreadable. 


archive title: fey
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notes: fey- 1) middle english feie, fated to die. full of the sense of approaching death. 2) displaying an otherworldly or magical aspect. 3) having visionary power; clairvoyant. 4) appearing touched or crazy, as if under a spell. fae in turn comes from vulgar latin fata, “the goddess of fate,” from latin ftum, “fate.”


archive title: dilemma
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notes: a bird, space, dilemma? possibly from the heraclitean dilemma? heraclitus “the obscure”, pre-socratic greek philosopher. quote: “no man can cross the same river twice, because neither the man nor the river are the same.” pantheistic. contemptuous of statue worship. nature itself is divine.(?)


archive title: rhetoric
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notes: “rhetoric is the counterpart of dialectic. both are concerned with such things as come within the general ken of all men. accordingly all men attempt to discuss statements and to maintain them, to defend themselves and to attack others. ordinary people do this either at random or through practice...” -aristotle


archive title: notslam
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notes: on first look this artifact seems a piece of gulzar script. gulzar is defined in islamic calligraphy as the technique of filling the area within the outlines of large letters with various ornamental devices, including among other things floral designs. these characters are not arabic, however, so not islamic. 


archive title: shade
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notes: “angels and ministers of grace defend us! be thou a spirit of health or goblin damn’d, bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell, be thy intents wicked or charitable, thou comest in such a questionable shape that I will speak to thee...” - from hamlet, by william shakespeare.


archive title: caveat
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notes: the composition recalls orthodox religious icons with instances of unknown text in place of the expected figure. this artifact may have been part of tryptich. also: the title caveat, perhaps from caveat emptor let the purchaser beware, i.e., let him examine the article he is buying, and act on his own judgment.


archive title: herald
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notes: a herald- originally a messenger sent by a king or nobleman to convey a message or proclamation. (the equivalent of the greek κῆρυξ kērux.) this herald: all bite, no bark. flames, claws, posturing, with any further contextual meaning obliterated or whited-out as it were.