Monthly Archives: October 2022

A Report from the Trans-American Expedition

The Frye Trunk (closed)

Readers of the Communiqués will likely have heard some discussion, over the last two years, concerning the discovery and acquisition of the unusual valise that has come to be known as “The Frye Trunk.” This large leather-trimmed portable storage unit came to the attention of ESTAR(SER) researchers in connection with investigations into the history of radical practices of attention in the Pacific Northwest, a program of inquiry occasioned by a commission from the Frye Art Museum, in Seattle (which contacted us in 2019 about the possibility of mounting an exhibition on this topic).  A preliminary report on the trunk, and its remarkable contents, is now available in the form of a new Proceedings monograph, The Working Group on Exhibitions, “The Frye Trunk: Opening a ‘Pandora’s Box’ in the Archives of Attention,” Proceedings of ESTAR(SER) New Series VIII, Supplement (2022). There is broad consensus that this portmanteau ATTENTIONAL ECOSYSTEM represents a key artifact attesting to nearly a century of “Birdish” activities in Seattle and its environs.  The object is at the center of a new exhibition at the Frye Museum, THE THIRD, MEANING, and interested persons are encouraged to make an effort to see this useful installation, which is complete with explanatory text, etc.  Special thanks to the Frye Trunk Conservation Committee (Grace Caiazza, Stevie Knauss, Jared Rankin, and Max Taylor-Milner) who did a great deal of work to stabilize this special find, and to prepare it for public display.

BUT OF SPECIAL INTEREST, and much less well-known, is the recent TRANS-AMERICAN ESTAR(SER) RESEARCH EXPEDITION, undertaken in August of 2022, in connection with the translation of the Frye Trunk from the Milcom Memorial Reading Room and Attention Library in Jersey City (where it had been the subject of the research reflected in the new monograph) to the Frye Art Museum in Seattle (for the new exhibition).  This cross-country trip was made conjoint with a series of formal, semi-formal, and fully-informal site-visits and collecting stops — all of the greatest interest to anyone familiar with the history of the Order of the Third Bird (together with its associated [and disassociated] movements, communities, collectives, etc.).  The editors of Communiqués recently received an informative research report from one of the members of the traveling party, THE DIARY OF OREN S. UNDERWOOD.  Click on the “hyperlink” to consult the full document. And click on the image below for an actual glimpse of video footage from the expedition itself….