Archive for August, 2011|Monthly archive page


In Uncategorized on August 9, 2011 at 8:37 pm


As part of I AM NOT A POET, VerySmallKitchen will feature online a number of films from its screening programme. The full festival of films is here.  This first online screening presents work by Emma Cocker. Emma writes:

Close Reading (C.O.P.V, 1950) is part of an ongoing series which investigates the practice of close reading or of an ‘explication de texte’. Here, close reading is not understood as the critical attention paid to the meaning of words themselves as signs, but is instead interested in those meanings produced by looking at words ‘close up’, through a process of visual magnification or close visual attention. Drawing on the Latin origins of the word explicare (as in explication de texte) which means to unfold, to fold out or set forth, within Cocker’s close reading words appear shifting and unstable, restless and unwilling to be stilled. The work looks towards the threshold where writing or text collapses into its component parts (ink and page); the point where the sense or legibility of a word is rendered illegible or nonsensical the closer it is attended to, as writing slips towards image.



I saw an early part of the work presented as part of Emma’s Close Reading/ Open Reading, a contribution to Writing (the) Space, at The Wild Pansy Press Project Space, Leeds on May 19th.

On that occasion Emma observed how a  “starting point or point of provocation” had been the following sentence from Olson’s 1950 poetics Projective Verse: “If I hammer, if I recall in, and keep calling in, the breath, the breathing as distinguished from the hearing, it is for cause, it is to insist upon a part that breath plays in verse.” She continued:

Close Reading / Open Reading investigates the capacity of methods of close attention for producing uncertainty, indeterminacy and formlessness rather than fixing or clarifying any single, stable meaning, where paradoxically perhaps, the more something becomes scrutinized the less it becomes known. Within my practice, processes of extraction, fragmentation, listing, footnoting and cross-referencing become used for generating ‘openings’ rather than conclusions, for appearing purposeful whilst remaining without clear or discernible intent…



… I envisage future experiments emerging from this presentations exploring the relationship between the practices of flitting and lingering (over a text)…

More of Emma’s work is here. Notes on Emma’s FIELD PROPOSALS for the  ART WRITING FIELD STATION are here.



In Uncategorized on August 8, 2011 at 10:14 pm


In Uncategorized on August 5, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Figure 1. Cup

Figure 2. Felt-tips

Figure 3. Hole punch

Figure 4. Miscellaneous

Figure 5. Pot plants

Figure 6. Tubes


Figures 1–6 are excerpted from What The Matter Is (2009) by Tamarin Norwood, first broadcast March 2009 on Resonance 104.4FM.



Figure A.

A utensil, once it has been damaged, becomes its own image (and sometimes an esthetic object: ‘those outmoded, fragmented, unusable, almost incomprehensible, perverse objects’ that Andre Breton loved). In this case, the utensil, no longer disappearing in its use, appears. This appearance of the object is that of resemblance and reflection: one might say it is its double. The category of art is linked to this possibility objects have of ‘appearing,’ that is, of abandoning themselves to pure and simple resemblance behind which there is nothing – except being. Only what has surrendered itself to the image appears, and everything that appears is, in this sense, imaginary.

Maurice Blanchot, “Two Versions of the Imaginary,” in The Gaze of Orpheus, ed. P. Adams Sitney, trans. Lydia Davis. New York: Station Hill Press, 1981 (original French 1943), pp.79-89: p.84


Figure B.

My life day to day was lived through ordinary actions and powerful emotions. But the more ordinary a day I lived, the more I lifted a child, conscious of nothing but the sweetness of a child’s skin, or the light behind an apple tree, or rain on slates, the more language and poetry came to my assistance. The words that had felt stilted, dutiful and decorative while I was a young and anxious poet, now sang and flew. Finally, I had joined together my life as a woman and a poet. And on the best days I lived as a poet. The language at the end of my day, when the children were asleep and the curtains drawn, was the language all through my day. It had waited for me. What that meant was crucial. For the first time as a poet I could believe in my life as the source of the language I used, and not the other way round. At last, I had the means to challenge what I believed had distorted the idea of the poet. The belief that poetry had the power to dignify and select a life, instead of the reverse. That a life, in other words, became important only because it was the subject matter for a poem.

Eavan Boland, A Journey with Two Maps: Becoming a Woman Poet. New York: WW Norton & Co, 2011


Figure C.

As they circulate through our lives, we look through objects (to see what they disclose about history, society, nature, or culture – above all, what they disclose about us), but we only catch a glimpse of the things. We look through objects because they are codes by which our interpretative attention makes them meaningful, because there is a discourse of objectivity that allows us to use them as facts. A thing, in contrast, can hardly function as a window. We begin to confront the thingness of objects when they stop working for us: when the drill breaks, when the car stalls, when the windows get filthy, when their flow within the circuits of production and distribution, consumption and exhibition, has been arrested, however momentarily. The story of objects asserting themselves as things, then, is the story of a changed relation to the human subject and thus the story of how the thing really names less an object than a particular subject-object relation.

Bill Brown, “Thing Theory,” Critical Inquiry, Vol. 28, No.1, special issue: Things. Autumn 2001, pp.1-22: p.4


Figure D.

What Twain helps us to recognize is how the accumulation of objects (and not the desire for the object) might be considered the (futile) effort to materialize that abstraction – to fill up that abstraction, as it were, with particular contents. ‘The House Beautiful’ chapter of Life on the Mississippi registers that effort with a five-page catalogue of objects: ‘ingrain carpet; mahogany centre-table; lamp on it, with green-paper shade. […] Other bric-a-brac […] quartz, with gold ward adhering; old Guinea-gold locket, with circlet of ancestral hair in it; Indian arrow-heads, of flint.’ Despite the hyperspecificity of the catalogue, these are simply the generic contents of the generic ‘residence of the principal citizen, all the way from the suburbs of New Orleans to the edge of St. Louis.’ However passionate the particularity, it has no particularizing point.

Bill Brown, “The Tyranny of Things,” Critical Inquiry, Vol. 28, No. 2. Winter 2002, pp.442-469


Figure E.

It is rare that a being who is not totally engrossed in his action is not mannered. Every personage who seems to tell you: ‘Look how well I cry, how well I become angry, how well I implore,’ is false and mannered. […] If you lose your feeling for the difference between the man who presents himself in society and the man engaged in action, between the man who is alone and the man who is looked at, throw your brushes into the fire. […] Whether you compose or act, think no more of the beholder than if he did not exist. Imagine, at the edge of the stage, a high wall that separates you from the orchestra. Act as if the curtain never rose.

Denis Diderot cited in Michael Fried, Absorption and Theatricality. Chicago IL: University of Chicago Press, 1988, pp.82-132


Figure F.

I’m put off by museums in general; they reek of a holy death which offends my sense of reality. […] Moreover […] most advanced art of the last half-dozen years is, in my view, inappropriate for Museum display. […] Museums do more than isolate such work from life, they subtly sanctify it and thus kill it.

Allan Kaprow 1967, cited in Allan Kaprow: Art as Life, eds Eva Meyer-Hermann et al. London: Thames & Hudson, 2008, p.70


Figure G.

[…] here is the ball park I perceive: an artist can

work within recognizable art modes and present the work in recognizable art contexts (e.g., paintings in galleries; poetry in poetry books; music in concert halls, etc.)

work in unrecognizable, i.e., nonart, modes but present the work in recognizable art contexts (e.g., pizza parlour in a gallery; a telephone book sold as poetry, etc.)

work in recognizable art modes but present the work in nonart contexts (eg., a “Rembrandt as an ironing board”; a fugue in an air-conditioning duct; a sonnet as a want ad, etc.)

work in nonart modes but present the work as art in nonart contexts (e.g., perception tests in a psychology lab; anti-erosion terracing in the hills; typewriter repairing; garbage collecting, etc. (with the proviso that the art world knows about it))

work in nonart modes and nonart contexts but cease to call the work art, retaining instead the private consciousness that sometimes it may be art, too (e.g., systems analysis; social work in a ghetto’ hitchhiking; thinking, etc.)

Allan Kaprow, “Nontheatrical Performance” (1976), in Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life. Berkeley CA: University of California Press, 2003, pp.175-176


Figure H.

Masahiro Mori, “The Uncanny Valley,” trans.  K. F. MacDorman & T. Minato (original Japanese “Bukimi No Tani.”) Energy, Vol. 7, No. 4. 1970, pp.33-35


Figure I.

Oscar Wilde’s unsettling epigram that being natural is a post isn’t too far away. Consciousness makes artifacts of us all. And so does the gallery, the transforming powers of which increase as modernism declines. The spectators in the late-modernist gallery are somehow artificial, aware of being aware – consciousness quoting itself. Though time in the white cube is always changing, the space gives the illusion that time is standing still, as if on a pedestal.

Brian O’Doherty, Studio and Cube: On the Relationship between where Art is Made and where Art is Displayed. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007, p.5


Figure J.

The idea of working in a ‘studio’ makes me uncomfortable, always has, as has thinking of myself as an ‘artist.’ Both terms presume that my motive is ‘to make art’ […] I don’t like to know where I’m going to end up before I begin. […] I tried having a studio only once, in 1985, when a sculptor friend and I rented an additional apartment in the Hell’s Kitchen building where we lived. For me, the experiment lasted just two weeks. I didn’t understand maintaining a separate room to which I was to ‘go and make my art.’ I hadn’t gone to art school and never got into the studio habit. Having a studio made my mind feel boxed-in.

David Robbins in The Studio Reader: On the Space of Artists, eds. Mary Jane Jacob and Michelle Grabner. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2010, p.261


Figure K.

Lucas Samaras,‘Room #1’ (1964)


Figure L.

This is what I have been thinking: for the most commonplace event to become an adventure, you must – and this is all that is necessary – start recounting it. This is what fools people: a man is always a teller of tales, he lives surrounded by his stories and the stories of others, he sees everything that happens to him through them; and he tries to live his life as though he were recounting it.

Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea, trans. Robert Baldick. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1965 (original French 1938), p.61


Figure M.

He began, very cautiously, to open his eyes, to see whether a gramophone was really there. But real things – real things were too exciting. He must be cautious. He would not go mad. First he looked at the fashion papers on the lower shelf, then gradually at the gramophone with the green trumpet. Nothing could be more exact. And so, gathering courage, he looked at the sideboard; the plate of bananas; the engraving of Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort, at the mantelpiece, with the jar of roses. None of these things moved. All were still; all were real.

Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998 (first published 1925)




More about about Tamarin’s work can be found here. Her VSK Chapook TEXT AS TOOLKIT: A Practical Handbook is here. Her exhibition THESE ARE NOT POEMS will be at the Totalkunst Gallery, Edinburgh August 17-19 2011 as part of I AM NOT A POET.


In Uncategorized on August 4, 2011 at 10:48 am

“Nathaniel awakes early this morning. He sits up on the edge of the bed and looks around his minuscule broom closet of a bedroom. Today he finds himself paying close attention to the unoccupied space of the room’s carpeted floor. Nathaniel recalls once telling a friend that he didn’t need much more living space than the minimum area required for him to do a pushup on the ground. This morning he gets down on all fours beside his bed to test if his current digs meet the criteria set forth by a younger, different Nathaniel. He finds it so happens there is exactly enough space for him to do pushups comfortably. But Nathaniel has never done a pushup in his entire life.”

2011. Ink on paper. 9.5 x 6.25 in.


“Each additional pushup will expend energy and cause damage to muscle fibre, but will also make Nathaniel a little bit stronger at the same time. If he could endure the fatigue and pain, the accumulation of strength would eventually nullify the unpleasantness of exertion – the more pushups he does, the easier they will become. He could do pushups all night, on his first try, without stopping for a single break. Piece of cake.”

2011. Ink on paper. 6 x 4.25 in.


“He has been lying on his stomach for the past ten minutes. Feeling dejected, he lifts himself up from floor, and powers up the computer terminal in the wall. He swiftly navigates through a tree of subdirectories and starts up a hidden rudimentary sound editing program that he had discovered just last week. Once the software is running, he opens one of the three sound files contained on the hard drive – this one is a nondescript piece of soft jazz, most likely preloaded for demonstration purposes. Nathaniel begins to edit the timeline of the tune, attempting to slow it down gradually so that it will never play through to its end.”

2011. Ink on paper. 9.5 x 6.75 in.


This is the first post of Paul Antony Carr’s 3-month residency in the VerySmallKitchen. It follows Paul’s recent VSK Project here, which presented an aspect of his EXCERPTS project.  Nathaniel’s Perpetual Motion is a new strand of this project, and a series of image-text pairs will appear on VerySmallKitchen between now and October.

More about Paul’s work is here.