When we started tearing out the rotten guts of the barn for renovation, we were able to see for the first time some of the old woodwork laid bare to light for the first time. The beams that support the roof would have been previously visible only if you were on the upper floor, and the flooring wasn’t strong enough to support weight. What we discovered, other than the beautiful old structure itself, was the signature of whoever made it on one of the lesser beams. I can’t make out the name, but I love the fact that it’s there, and that it will remain there for as long as that roof is over our heads.
I wonder how long signatures will last. How long it will take for iris scans and digital passwords—minimum 8 alphanumeric characters—to wipe out the need for that flourish which is as individual as each of us. Without paper, where do we sign? If there are no credits to roll after the show is over, who takes credit and when?
I can’t help but think, too, that if we had to sign everything we did, it might be better. If we had to take credit, openly and clearly, every time we put something out into the world for the consumption or use of other people, would we be more careful? Would we make it better? More beautiful? More delicious? I’m not talking about self-promotion here. Far from it. This man’s signature was on a beam, tucked up in the roof, in the shadows. It wasn’t placed there out of egotism, I’m sure, but out of pride and correctness.
Assuming no foul-play with photoshop or other means of forgery, a signature means so much: I made this. I am responsible for this. This work—no matter where it ends up—is mine.