1 million hole punches later….


As far as I can tell no one really knows then name for the little circles of paper that collect white and snowy in the base of your hole punch. The word ‘hole punch’ really refers to the machine that does the punching*. As soon as that little piece of paper gets punched it goes into the unknown universe in the bottom of the hole punch, or flutters to the floor and nestles against the desk leg until it is rudely dislodged by the vacuum. It has become less important than the hole itself –  less significant than the nothingness.

I spent a while pondering why I’m so obsessed with hole punches: The obsession then combined with my fascination for words and symbols, (especially when taken out of context or reorganized into a different whole), and I started thinking about all the interesting things I could hole punch and then restructure – it could become a memory of all the books and newspapers and notes and bills and letters and documents I have read in a year.


This in a way is what fascinates me about them – their insignificance, and the sheer numbers of them that are created around the world daily. Something about that multitude makes me think of them as little creatures and I almost want to say, “rise up against the oppression of the little white circles!” (But I don’t).

I also find myself attracted to some aesthetic quality they hold – such perfectly formed little pieces of paper, and something about the multiples and replicas.

I started thinking about the bits of information we accidentally hole punch – the notes in the border, the first word in the sentence – and the disconnectedness of this little hole punch from the rest of the word/page/book/document…

So I started taking a punch or two out of all the things I read…

Then a punch or two out of some of the things I draw…

Then I started reading things which looked good to punch…

And so it began…

* I have recently discovered the name of theses circles – ‘chads’ although mostly used for punches in voting papers or computer cards (back in the day!) Thanks to Mike Hadgkiss for finding this out for me!

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About Nicola Anthony

London and Singapore based artist, art writer, sculptor, lecturer. I create sculpture & drawing, write for art journals and magazines, create events & connect people. http://www.NicolaAnthony.co.uk I also co-ordinate the Edible Art Movement. http://www.edibleartmovement.com

2 comments

  1. Dear Nicola,

    I really enjoyed reading this about hole punches… similar yet different to a multitude of circles I got into for making artworks. In particular, take a look at this installation I did last summer.

    There was nothing accidental about the particular circular photos as they were carefully photographed and cut. But they were selected both from intentional and accidental marks around the university. But I derived a very particular pleasure from the sharp edge of the cut against the continuum of the original image. Like you, I think these circular sample (whether from a hole punch or from circular photographs) are so suggestive of the world they were excerpted from. A lot of my work since then has been about exploring this sampling, the cutting of bits of a painting (another example here)

    I have just started a blog as well (not quite as beautiful as yours, you can see it here) . I was thinking that my next entry might be about these daydreams of art works or impulses I often wake up to. One recurs rather regularly: to take a large holepunch to the National Gallery… Am starting to think you might like to come along? ;-)

    All the best

    Nina Rodin.

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