There is evidence—stuff that exists. The stuff exists, but it doesn’t matter to anyone, except perhaps to the thing that created it. And in that case, it has only a singular meaning for that individual.
The original creator of the evidence does not matter. What matters is the meaning given to the evidence (and, perhaps, by extension its creator) through observation and subsequent reconstruction by the detective. The evidence only has meaning to the detective once it is traced by him. The act of tracing, or constructing meaning, transubstantiates the evidence into trace.
Tracing is a process of discovery. The revelation of meaning through observation and construction exists in the process; it does not inhere in the evidence. The tools that the detective uses for tracing—the decoding machine, translation device, the scope—shapes the meaning. So does the mind or hand that wields it. The observer is not passive behind the scope; his eye is inseparable from it, fused in the relation of tool and mind.
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