Category games preservation archives

an unintentional limited edition gift press


Since late summer 2012, when Max Fenton and I started the unnamed.pdf project, I’ve returned to an old love of making zines. Unnamed.pdf set the model for the work I’ve done both with Max and independently since our first issue; all zines can be viewed on screen and/or downloaded as a DIY file with which a viewer can make his or her own copy.

When we created unnamed.pdf’s issue 2 in December 2013, I began to recognize that we were making mini-photo monographs. I decided that, alongside distributing the files for possible DIY creation by others, I wanted to start making meticulous, handmade copies of my own. I returned to another old love, making handmade books, and began a process that remains unseen on this site each time that I post a new zine.

For each zine that I make and post, whether in collaboration with Max or alone, I make 4-5 unique physical copies. I found a high quality, double sided photo print paper, print them on my slow but beautiful old Epson printer, and hand bind each one. I then send each copy to an individual who I consider related to the zine story in some way—as a participant, supporter, or topic-interested reader. Inspired by projects such as Wallace Berman’s Semina and Ray Johnson’s practice of sending mail art, the physical copies can’t be requested; I gift them as a form of correspondence with people in my world.

Restore [Return] Shift


The Trope Tank, Professor Nick Montfort’s lab at MIT, is unequivocally one of my favorite places in the world. I fell in love with it almost immediately upon first entering the doors a few years ago, and I’ve become more enamored with each visit. The 43 pages of this zine barely do justice to the objects stored within the space, and they only give a tiny glimpse of the fascinating work that occurs within the Tank’s walls.

This zine is the second of a series of photographic portraits of games preservation archives; the first was Left Cartridge about the Learning Games Initiative in Tucson, Arizona. The series is part of a larger documentary project that will present in-depth portraits of each archive, display a pan-archive view, and manifest in a different form.

As with No Loitering, the unnamed.pdf zines, Left Cartridge, and stabilized and sealed, download and view Restore [Return] Shift on screen (3MB) or download, print (duplex or organize pages back-to-back, use the screen version as your guide), and bind your own (11MB). The DIY file is sized to print on 8.5×11″ paper. Please note that the .pdf typically looks better downloaded and viewed on your device rather than through Dropbox on a browser; also (for DIY printing) choose Actual Size rather than Fit to Page for your print option, or the gutters and margins will misalign.

Left Cartridge

This zine, a portrait of the Learning Games Initiative, is the first of a series of photographic portraits of games preservation archives. The series is part of a larger documentary project that will present in-depth portraits of each archive, display a pan-archive view, and manifest in a different form.

As with No Loitering and the unnamed.pdf zines, download and view Left Cartridge on screen (3MB – this looks much better downloaded rather than just viewed through Dropbox) or download, print (duplex, or organize pages back-to-back), and bind your own (12MB). The DIY file is sized to print on 8.5×11″ paper.

Because this zine is of a length for which printing and assembling in a standard pamphlet binding is challenging, I made up a new hybrid binding that I’ll call dual-signature, no-cover pamphlet binding. Instructions are below:

Recommended tools: an awl, a hammer, scissors, binder clips (buffered with folded paper so as not to create dents in your piles of paper), a needle and thread. I prefer to use linen binding thread because it’s simple in aesthetic and physically strong. Any thread with some strength should work.

Binding Instructions:

  • Download the DIY Print version of Left Cartridge. Print duplex, or collate back-to-back, in two batches. Make sure to print at Actual Size not Fit to Page, or the margins and alignment will get thrown off.
  • First, print pages 1-26. Set this pile aside. I’ll call this Part 1.
  • Second, print pages 27-46. Set this pile aside. I’ll call this Part 2.
  • Fold Part 1 in half through the middle, so that the zine is the width and height of half of a US Letter sheet of paper. Unfold the pile, and use binder clips on either side of the pile to keep the pages from getting mis-aligned.
  • Using the awl and hammer, create holes that are evenly spaced down the center fold line. I typically place 1 hole halfway through both the top and bottom margins, one at each edge of the image, and then evenly space through the center. The more holes you have, the more stitches that you will have to connect the two sections and the tighter the binding may be.
  • I typically start sewing at the bottom, holding on to approximately 2cm of thread. I’ll wrap through the first two holes twice, still holding on to the thread edge. I’ll then proceed up to the top. At the top, I’ll circle back down, so that there is consistent stitching on both the inside and outside of the document.
  • Your last stitch should bring you to the inside bottom, where you can tie off the start of the thread with the end using a simple double knot. Then cut the thread down to as close to the knot as possible without cutting the knot.
  • Release the pages from the binder clips and repeat the process with Part 2. In order to align the holes between the sections, either estimate Part 2 holes’ consistent placement to Part 1 visually or log measurements with a ruler. One trick is to align the top and bottom of the folded Part 1 and set it on top of the right side of an unfolded Part 2; this alignment can serve as an approximate visual ruler.
  • Once both parts are sewn, hold them together with the tops and bottoms aligned. Rethread your needle with enough thread to tie off a significant number of knots. Hold on to the end of your thread then wrap the thread under and around aligned stitches twice or more, then tie off the beginning of the thread with the end in a double knot. Repeat across all stitches to bind the two pamphlet/signatures together and cut the spare thread to as close to each knot as possible without cutting the knot itself.

Typically, signatures would exist within a covered book, but we’re making a zine. So this binding might be a little raw, but it should make the creation a bit easier than attempting to pamphlet bind a nearly 50 page piece.

The inside of a single signature should look like the image on the left, and the finished binding should look something like what you see on the right.