emily.sylman (@) gmail.com

How To, 2016

HOW TO, 2016

HOW TO is a visual “how to” guide that acts as a set of social instructions for everyday things in our lives, showcased through 10 sets of small narratives put together in a handmade accordion book. With bright pastel pages, a large size, and simple to read images, the guide takes on a childlike form while it stretches seemingly endlessly, examining often mundane or awkward feeling moments we may experience. The first images in the sequence deal with extremely simple, literal things, and as the book goes on they become more metaphorical instructions. 


The series asks questions about the meaning behind social normatives and rituals, and about “the common experience” of us as humans, doing things that we have grown up being taught how to do. The images then evoke a sense of nostalgia, because as you look through the book, the viewer is re-learning how to do each of these actions, many of which you learn as a little kid, and must confront the differences in which we are taught these actions. If someone from a different part of the world were to read this book, they would have a complete different experience because they might have learned a different set of instructions growing up, making this a very westernized take on the process of getting older.