I Could Keep You Safe

Design / Poetry

I hadn’t seen Ritwik in a year yet I’d catch glimpses of him in the corner of my eye, late at night, when I walked aimlessly through the streets. We spoke frequently over Facebook messenger while he was living in Bangladesh and I in London. One day, however, the messages stopped. He was always worried about dying and had a knack for trouble. Yet, the nature of our relationship meant I had no means of reaching him. The digital interface didn’t allow me to knock on his door or check his pulse—the connection was dropped.

I compiled moments from our conversations into this book, as documentation and a means of remembering.

I chose to leave the conversation in its original Facebook messenger format, as the messages became artifacts of the conversations. It reminds of how his being was abstracted and reduced to simple chat bubbles and a profile picture.

The messages were printed on ECG paper, the paper used to record the electrical impulses of the heart. I was interested in how we can reduce or measure someone’s life in a heartbeat or a series of messages. These messages were the lifeline I had at the time to Ritwik.

When printed on, however, the paper resists the ink, as it is not conducive to most regular printers. ECG paper is thermal and requires heat. Perhaps one’s being can not be reduced to the cold transference of text over technological interfaces. Our bodies produce heat, to sit next to a body of heat feels vastly different than interacting over a screen. As the paper resisted the ink, the messages slowly began to fade away when touched.