Last week, we here at Untapped brought you a piece on New York’s singleton mittens and where they are now. Today we broaden the scope and consider all lost things, or at least those chanced upon by SVA student by Zoonzin Lee. Using only an X-acto knife, cardboard, and Magic Marker, Zoonzin gives the objects in her Little Lost Project a voice, then returns them to the streets where she found them. 

“I wanted to humanize everyday objects that we do not think much of and leave them on the streets,” writes Zoonzin. “New Yorkers or online viewers can take a moment to relate with the objects or imagine the story behind it. I just wanted to bring some delight to people through this project.”

In the early phases in the project, Zoonzin’s lost things expressed a simple sentiment: “Help! I’m Lost!” Over time, the objects have grown more articulate and reflective. The lost MetroCards remain hopeful. Interchangeable, capable of saving any commuter a dollar, they remind passersby that they are still useful. Other objects are less sanguine. The solitary glove knows that it is part of a matched pair, and that without its twin it has no purpose. The half-eaten pack of breath mints could theoretically be picked up by anyone, but they, too, are despairing. The breath mints know that, practically speaking, after they were opened, the only person with any real use for them was the opener himself. And having formed a bond with this person, they were betrayed.

These LifeSavers reflect on their predicament with philosophic detachment. Not having been opened, they are still useful; any passerby could pick them up and enjoy them. Yet their sign shows an awareness that their association with the street has tainted them. Maybe they’re poisoned Life Savers; maybe city filth has seeped through the wrapper. Objectively speaking, they are no more trash than their Life Saving brothers back in the rack at the deli; but through the subjective eye of the cynical New Yorker, they are as worthless as an empty wrapper. The seemingly innocent philosophical inquiry of the Savers hides a deep, existential dread.