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Another iteration of PostSecret: insightful, entertaining and maybe a bit dishonest.
on October 27, 2009
This is about the 4th iteration of Frank Warren's PostSecret project in published form. The mail art project gathers anonymous postcards confessing a broad range of secrets and here are put together loosely around the cycle of life, from childhood to old age.
While most of the material is generally entertaining, there is a bit of a repetitive feel-good factor, and a pretentious vibe that feels a bit boring and somewhat predictable as one turns the pages. It is not necessarily that Warren's work has turned consciously deceiving but the process itself, if it ever was that spontaneous, feels a bit trite and fake.
Postcards are quite elaborate, graphically sophisticated for the most part, and quite a few of the "secrets" aim to be domestically shocking, or personally disturbing, with some peppered mundane remarks, which are perhaps the most interesting as a social documentation. But after so many, it might be fair to ask to what extent senders were crafting a product that they knew was having quite a media exposure and if noticed enough would have a chance to appear in book form.
Now, that artifice could also be interesting, but the volume does not dare to go there and seems to take, and offer, the postcards at face value, which at best is lazy and at worst manipulative. Peppered throughout are some interesting notes from Warren about how the project has developed, its feel-good factor and community outreach aspect. At this point that depth feels a bit shallow, although it makes for a mildly entertaining coffee-book.