In Chancery by GEOF HUTH.
A sequence of photographs of records of the long-defunct New York Court of Chancery, presented as visual poems.
The Rescued Pieces of In Chancery
My paid work focuses on government records from the 1600s to today, those encoded in bits and thrumming through wires and air, and those on paper and parchment. When working with the oldest of these, which usually bear signs of decay, I face the pleasure of the archives, or how an old document carries into the present the words and actions of the past, though always changed, always transmogrified by time. The old records I oversee have been stored poorly sometimes for centuries, so their cotton-fiber paper, which would have retained its bright whiteness if stored properly, has devolved into shades of tans and browns. The records also bear the manners and markings of their times, making these routine papers magical to the 21st-century eye. Seals and ribbons, intended to convey authenticity, festoon the documents, as do arcane phrases and ornate penmanship. Even the name of the court I chose to document so heavily, the Court of Chancery, carries the scent of a faraway past, as do the papers themselves. As I processed these, I recognized some of them as inchoate visual poems and photographed hundreds of them, to capture their verbo-visual delights for myself and you.