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DEMOTIC ARCHIVES OF ART WRITING: DICK HIGGINS: WHAT ARE LEGENDS: A CLARIFICATION

In Uncategorized on September 19, 2011 at 9:58 pm

Dick Higgins: Sparks for Piano (1979) The darker, the louder: the lighter. the softer. Duration up to three minutes

 

 

What is a legend?

Dwight D.Eisenhower. Suppose Dwight D.Eisenhower. Impossible. Dwight D.Eisenhower an executive. Dwight D.Eisenhower a general not a general. Grant Grant. Grant Grant was a general and is a general and not a man.

Running against Eisenhower running against Santa Claus.

The depression exciting but not interesting. Not interesting. The depression not a legend.

Grant coming and going. Grant on a horse. Grant chewing cigars. Thank you Grant for everything.

1 2 Grant. 1 2 3 4 5 Grant. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0       1 2 3.

4 Grant I mean. Thank you Grant.

Sitting Bull famous. Sitting Bull very famous. Sitting Bull on tour. Chief Spotted Dear God Keep You. WIAL. Sitting Bull famous. Sitting Bull with his braves.

Sometimes more. Sometimes Sitting Bull climbing on a hill. Sometimes Sitting Bull calling the ghosts of his ancestors. Sitting Bull in action. Sitting Bull loving Mama Bull. Sitting Bull collecting. Was your Grandfather collected?

Sitting Bull if in action rapidly in action, having to be in action a need for being in thought in action happening in action. But not always in action.

Grant walking. Grant modest but chewing and walking and riding slow. Grant being walking and being drunk and just being and being and being and hurrying.

Sitting Bull being and more. Rapidity. City Bull moving. City Bull changing his mind and making war on the palefaces. City Bull and Al saying “Ugh. Mishugennah.” Sitting Bull possibly heroic, and City Bull certainly is heroic. Sitting Bull become heroic. Sitting Bull becoming. Eisenhower not becoming. Eisenhower hiding. Grant unbecoming but coming and going and being and working.

Is it possible when legends. Is it possible when legends being. Is it possible when history and legends being. History is nice. Can legends and spice be. Spicy bee in chocolate. Can you milk a cow. Can you offer. Offering is always legendary.

Legends and legends.

What legends and what horses and what indians and what soldiers. And what sages and what vegetables. And what meals there are and are being and have been.

Legends are grammar. Legends are the grammar of what we might be being. Hickory is not history. Sophistocation is the enemy of history. When there is no wind there is legend. When there is a big blow there is legend. Legend is hello. There are many legends that nobody has made. Sounds and legends growing like mushrooms in the night. Here we are, amazing. Are we amazing.

Can one be interesting. Can one be interested. Can one be history. Can one be legendary. Being is not historical. Being is history. Having been is history. Being having been. Having been being. That is legend. Legend means sometimes that you wear a hat when you go out of doors. Have you been wearing a hat.

Legend is smiling. Legend and seeing can be brothers.

Legend is donating. Legend is donating the present to the past. Legend is donating being to having been. To having been being. To having been present. To having been the present. Legend is grammatical. Legend is a pussycat and a catnip mouse.

One might have lived in a house. One might have been offering asparagus and tobacco and peas and donating is offering and trees and all the birds what what and what is seen.

Legend is without art. Legend is something else. Legend involves having seen. Legend rides to the moon on a hobby horse. Legend and Isaac. Legend the saints. Legend and dirt. Legend and Dr. Johnson. Legend and what painters are. Legend and what do you enjoy. Legend making action. Action making legend. Action is possible from legend.

Legend is what people do when they are almost asleep. Legend is what people do when they have hidden their minds. Legend is a garbage can, a sacred garbage can. Legend must be without art and with speed. Legend is in poor taste. Legend is without wit. Witlessness. Witlessness and form.

Wits make tables into tables. Then tables cease to be really tables. Tables turning into tables are not legendary. Tables and tables are legendary.

Tables and legends.

This is what tables and legends have done for you.

Abraham Lincoln.

This is called tables and legends.

This is what tables and legends have done for you.

Abraham Lincoln.

This is called tables and legends.

Tables and legends.

If an angel. If an angel dancing. If an angel dancing on a table. If an angel on a table dancing on an alter. Is an angel and altar. Is a table an altar. That is wit. This is not wit.

An angel on a table dancing on an altar.

Angels and tables. The life you save may be your own. Life guard.
If a bird. If a bird dies he lies in the bathtub.

Fat men. Fat men are ticklish.

It is bad luck to walk under a ladder.

Tie a knot and kill your enemy. Tie a knot and cure your ill. Abracadabra. Put in a nickle and out comes Butterfingers and Ray.

Ray.

Sneeze on Monday. Sneeze for danger. Sneeze on Tuesday. Love a stranger. Sneeze on Friday. Sneeze for sorrow. Sneeze on Saturday. See your own true love tomorrow.

What is the use of saving a small fish so that you can eat a large one. What is the use of having been Geographically a child.

These are all familiar having been thoughts. The thoughts of famous people.

But legends must be fast or they are not simple. Simple and true. Legends are wheels spinning and old automobiles coming. Legends are not geographies.

And so having been born was there but is.

I offer you a cigar.

Legend comes from places. Everything comes from the ocean. All the good words begin with C of which there are 7.

Thank you.

May I offer you a cigar.

Drop dead how sad.

What does it mean.

(                                       ) *

Ears.

Thank you.

Legending is done by ears. These ears are located in the center of the forehead, assuming that the C’s are in line. Lines do not curve. They sometimes swurve but they never curve. To see with your ears, what happens is not a line. Not if a legend. What happens is on the wall.

One might let the happenings happen.

One might not.

One might contribute.

1 and 1, and 1 in a box.

Being better.

1 might offer a fly his freedom. 1 might be clearly red. 1 might reflect the sun. 1 might not have enough air. 1 is many things.

Who are people anyway.

This is the most useless thought ever.

1 in a spaceship. What is 1 I will make 1. A little 1.

Here I am.

Once I climbed a hill, not a legend.

Here is a hill, not a legend.

A hill. Beginning. I climbing. Nous voyons …. no legend.

A hill. Climbing. I, fat, with grease in my hair.

A monkey’s cheek pouch. To damage. Abracadabra. Abstractly accessible. Banausic beans. Chug chug.

To the tune of twinkle twinkle little star.

Thanking and offering makes everything clear.

Somebody has ruined the soup.
The End

Here we come to the end.

Legends comes form the sixth sea, after everybody else has gone away.

Legends do not know.

Legends are what never know anything.

Legends move.

Ivor a legend. Everything is clear.

I thank you.

The End

Still not the end. I cannot call on the end.

Everything is clear.

I thank you.

 

 

Autumn, 1959

* Nobody home.

 

 

SOURCE: First published in 1960 by Bern Porter as a pamphlet. This text from Dick Higgins, Legends & Fishnets (Barton, Vermont & New York, New York: Unpublished Editions: 1976), 11 -17. For the original formatting see the PDF here. Spelling as in original.


 

APPENDIX

 

In his essay “The Strategy of Each of My Books,” Higgins writes:

 

What Are Legends (1960), my first book, is the theoretical text which goes with Legends and Fishnets (1958-60, 1969; published in 1976). It exemplifies my near-obsession with unifying my theory and practice, written as it is in my “legend” style; this style uses few verbs in the indicative mode, substituting participles wherever possible, in order to get a pictorial effect in words. Important conceptual models to me were certain late Latin poems in which strings of participles provide the movement of the poem (e.g., the “Stabat Mater”) and the last part of the De Quincey “English Mail Coach,” as well as the obvious modernist texts by Gertrude Stein and others. I printed it myself when I was at the Manhattan School of Printing, using a handlettered text and found-illustrations by Bern Porter, a highly original graphic artist and writer from Maine whose work I have admired for many years.

 

SOURCE: Dick Higgins, Horizons: The Poetics and Theory of the Intermedia (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1984), 118.

 

Dick Higgins, Intermedia Chart (1995)

 

Higgins was also a publisher of Unpublished Editions, so perhaps the cover blurb for Legends & Fishets can be seen as a further author’s note:

 

 

“Must a story consist only of what is told? Or can it also lie in the language? Or in the interplay among the ideas and images embodied in the words?

In Legends & Fishnets Dick Higgins sets out to use a whole bevy of unorthodox means of narrative. The legending idea is simply that the image of a person or thing can be reverberated in the mind to add to its stature – the man or woman may be small, but the shadow can be huge. These stories are told in terms of the shadows and afterimages of the subject. Higgins’s interest in this process is not a recent one – some of the stories were begun as early as 1957, and they were written on and off until 1970. The use of assemblages of participles (and its implicit avoidance of the verb to be) produces a strongly visual effect, heightened by very concrete language. The principle at work is William Carlos Williams’s formula “No ideas but in things!” more than some development out of Gertrude Stein’s concept of the continuous present, which these pieces superficially resemble in some ways, and to which Higgins feels sympathetic but unrelated. This the reader will discover when he comes up against Higgins’s emphasis on moral principle (in the lineage of Emerson) and interest in all stages of the time process, not just the present as with Stein.

 

 

These stories cover a full range of expression – from the farcical (“Sandals and Stars”) to the comic (“The Temptation of Saint Anthony”) to the nostalgic (“Ivor a Legend”) to the lyrical (“Women, like horses”) and more. If the expression is heightened by the form, then the form is justified. And it is here, on this assumption, that Higgins has hung his hat.”

 

 

*

 

Higgins’ work is still principally (un)available as second hand copies of books published through his own Something Else Press, Unpublished Editions, and Printed Editions, although Station Hill Press published a selected poems.

Higgins’ trilogy of critical essays remains a vital sourcebook of an artist thinking critically about practices of work with which they are themselves implicated as a practitioner. Ubu Editions have posted the second volume Horizons: The Poetics & Theory of the Intermedia (1984) online, and the third Modernism Since Postmodernism: Essays on Intermedia is still in print (scroll to bottom of page).

A READER that drew from the entirety of Higgins work would be a wonderful thing. Online sources for Higgins’ work include (at Ubuweb) his 1965 Great Bear Pamphlet A Book About Love, War & Death Canto One. The excellent Light & Dust have a complete collection of Higgins’ metadramas.

 

 

 

Trying to identify points of connection with contemporary practice, I illustrate this edition of the DEMOTIC ARCHIVES with, firstly, Higgins’ Intermedia Chart (1995), interested in how its proposition fits within the contemporary interconnections/ movement of language between formats/ contexts within art writing. It should be viewed within a history of diagrams in his practice, including “Some Poetry Intermedia” and “Five Traditions of Art History” (both 1976).

I also include examples of his musical scores, acknowledging Higgins’ own contention that “composer” remained a key identity for thinking through the entirety of his work across writing, performance, painting, book making and music (criticism?) (amongst others). As he told Nicholas Zurbrugg in an interview in 1993:

 

 

“I would say that I am indeed a composer, which is actually where I began, but that I compose with visual and with textual means. That’s a fairly accurate way of describing my approach. A composer is apt to work with more design in his approach than a prose writer, or a poet, or a visual artist, is apt to do. That is, the composer maps out the architectonics of a musical work. And that basic approach is the one I’ve carried on over all the areas that I’ve investigated.

I’m a person who sets out his form, usually in advance, and then follows it. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the spontaneous departure from that. But I’m usually happiest, and keep my best sense of proportion, when I allow the spontaneous to work on the details of things, but where the overall structure is one that has been preconceived and that I continue to use as a matrix. So I would say I was a composer, but not necessarily of music. Something like that is a good way to describe me.  And if people think of me as that, I’ll be quite happy. ” (211)

 

SOURCE: Nicholas Zurbrugg ed. ART, PERFORMANCE, MEDIA (University of Minnesota Press, 2004).

 

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X MARKS THE BÖKSHIP RESIDENCY: ON Long hand BY SUE TOMPKINS

In Uncategorized on September 13, 2011 at 9:08 pm

 

 

Long hand Sue Tompkins

LemonMelon 2011 \ £25 \ Softback \ 74pp \ 29.7 x 42 cm \ ISBN 978 1 908260 00 0 \ Limited edition of 250 copies

 

 

Involving music, performance, the typed, handwritten and exhibited word, Sue Tompkins practice has nonetheless remained resistant to the book. Although individual performances are formed from thick folders of loose pages, none of these have so far been bound and published in their entirety. If Tompkins gallery work can involve careful sequences of typed sheets, these too haven’t made the transition to chapbook or monograph.

When sequences have made it into print, they are often viewed in relation to performance. [1] The editors of F.R.David preface an extract from “Elephants Galore” by noting “the problematic nature of representing uttered words in space on a two dimensional page”, particularly when the page-stage relationship is “transitory” and any single  inflection is “instructed, or a matter of whim or chance.” Which asks whether Tompkins work – involving various stages of language on a page – can find a book form that doesn’t point forward and back, illustrative of both past and future vocalisations.

Such questions can now be explored through Long hand, the 76 page A3 publication published by LemonMelon, whose structure and contents were determined through a collaboration of the artist and LemonMelon publisher Marit Muenzberg, who together refined a fixed, bound sequence of pages out of an initial blue Blantex ring binder full of loose, handwritten notes. These “prototype” pages (typed up for gallery works or the folders used in performance) here become the end product.

Open Long hand’s large pages and words appear on the recto only, excepting one appropriately turned around page on which is written “Reverse the System.” Green lined paper with a margin, although Tompkin always writes across lines. Scrawled texts, giving the impression of a swift, one take composition (actually some pages were re-written for legibility). Sometimes dense word patternings that, like the unwieldy book object and having to decipher handwriting, delay and uphold.

 

*

 

Whilst thinking about Long hand, I go and see Tompkins perform Hallo Welcome To Keith Street at the Hayward Gallery as part of the British Art Show, then later at the National Portrait Gallery for Electra’s Dirty Literature festival. The “same” piece in that the folder of sheets is the same, but each time a different set of decisions about what and how to read.

 


 

 

On a white plinth is a folder of pages each (it seems, we can’t see it) containing some written mark. Both performances see Tompkins work through the pages via an up-down bobbing rhythm of her body, forwards and away from/to plinth and text. At the Hayward inparticular, Tompkins is absorbed into her rhythm, but also open to the room, smiling at people she knows in the audience, checking who is coming in and moving around the busy space.

The spoken language unfolds out of the body, produced by its rhythms, but also having its own rhythm, which has to be mediated by the body. Maybe that tension explains the jerkiness of her physical movement. Language that, in the blurb for Long hand, Tompkins describes as “thoughts, statements, views, descriptions, feelings, emotions and things that are triggered by actual events.” In performance that also becomes a matter of timing, speech to song, formed thought and flickering synapses, mother and child…

Then Tompkins doesn’t move up and down, stands at the plinth, reads a few sentences for maybe 20 seconds. It would be a big surprise if such moments continued. Too fixed, too wholly written language, too Poetry, unmoving, which this has no desire to be, for long, if at all.

 

*

 

Long hand, then, elucidates Tompkins practice of the page by fixing it, closing it, however temporarily, for (her and our) consideration, doing this by not being a text that is comparable to a performance, so that language can itself be the focus (although if you go to a gig afterwards you will recognise a few pages, and there is an aspect of this book that is sampler, selected or reader).

I tried copying out texts as I read, but quickly wondered what exactly am I copying out? Each word and page is inseparable from its hand written shape, gesture, and rhythm, from its collaboration with that (long) hand (and there is a definite liking of lo———–ng letter strokes). Take two succeeding pages, both with the words Go and On, their written difference akin to two variant speakings.

Written in one take or not, the text as read asserts a present. It feels against this to go searching for art historical sources, seeing here the automatic, ascemic, found or spell (Hiller, Michaux, Porter, Artaud…), but I find them all inhabiting the space of these large pages (that perform for the reader idea of a notebook). Long hand as inhabiting Caroline Bergvall’s notion of “the midden, the middling, the middle, the meddle” of language. [2] Or, as on one page here would prefer to put it: “I know that sound/ HIYA.”

 

*

 

I’m listening to an online recording of a concert by Life Without Buildings, the Glasgow band for which Tompkins provided vocals. It is hard to make out the words of the vocals, but the tone seems clear. It sounds angrier, edgier than the two Tomkins performances I’ve seen, which have been friendly and open, the performer evidently pleased when the audience laughs, appealing to the audience through self-absorption not direct challenge.

This may be age (LWB folded in 2002) but it is also partly the band and the different dynamics of music gigs. Instead of the band there is now a lot of people in the National Portrait Gallery, uniformly sober, quiet, polite, and seated. Maybe the book is inbetween rock gig and NPG. Without an immediate audience to worry about texts can explore an unsociableness. There’s a life of this book, too, as object, sealed in its plastic wallet…

 

*

 

In an article on Karl Homlqvist, Melissa Gronlund argues the charisma of Homlqvist’s performances give his texts a coherence, whilst books and exhibitions reveal their fragmentary nature. [3]  In contrast, Tompkins performance style dissolves the text into an entwining of everyday discourses – overheard comments, half formed thoughts, lists, instructions, talking to oneself, questions – never settling at or allowing one page to overly determine the next, breaking off the sonic flow at points where Holmqvist continues.

In the less fleeting book, Tompkins gives up her control of what we encounter and at what rhythm and speed (such statements about the book immediately make me think if the opposite is also possible!). I am left to interpret the written marks themselves, which stresses a consistency of form, opens up an array of more literary interpretive procedures, although hand-ness cautions against this…

 


 

Long hand’s language includes: a celebration of a misalignment with the wor(l)d “pespi pespi pespi”; a working out -“BEAR HUG,” centred page bottom- of how the non-verbal moves into letter form and page space; repetition as  nervous tic, stop-start, careful working out of languages permutational possibilities “picking first/ stopping to pick first/ pick/ pick first.”

 

*

 

I took Long hand out of its plastic wallet, then stood trying to read it like a broadsheet newspaper. That scale is important – the size of the sheets would make them unwieldy and somewhat parodic in Tompkins usual performance style, page size and two staples deny such  return. (Large) Page as obstructive membrane, where sound and movement break apart “ha       aaa”.

The title explores this on the level of word and phrase, a familiarity whose weight and emphasis begins to be twisted (that capital L, both word forms rising), then encountering each reader’s varying assumptions about the meaning of capitals, line or placement. A totem of this new space declares, denies, celebrates, erases, sulks, escapes, clarifies, insists, protests, stops:

 

I wasn’t anywhere
I wasn’t being anywhere
I wasn’t

 

 

NOTES

 

[1]  See for example, Sue Tompkins, “Elephants Galore (extract)” in F.R.David, The ”Stuff and Nonsense” Issue, Winter 2008, 204-213, and “The London Section was in stereo” in Cathy Lane ed. Playing with words: The spoken word in artistic practice CR1SAP/ RGAP, 2008), 120-124.

[2] Caroline Bergvall, Meddle English: New and Selected Texts (Nightboat Books, 2011), 5.

[3] Melissa Gronlund, “Karl Holmqvist: Making Space” in Afterall 25, Autumn 2010,91-97.

 

This is the first of a series of essays written as part of VerySmallKitchen’s residency at X Marks the Bökship from Sep to Dec 2011.

DEMOTIC ARCHIVES OF ART WRITING: GUY DE COINTET ACRCIT (1971)

In Uncategorized on September 9, 2011 at 1:35 pm

 

This edition of the DEMOTIC ARCHIVES OF ART WRITING points elsewhere, holding itself like one of the studied poses in Guy de Cointet’s theatre pieces. Firstly, to the fantastic archives of Guy de Cointet’s work here. Secondly, to the slim, elegant monograph edited by Marie de Brugerolle.

Considering these resources, I wondered what aspects of de Cointet’s work could be most usefully presented on VerySmallKitchen. Perhaps the stills of performance works such as Tell Me (1979) and A New Life (1981) are most relevant…

In this mute form (only brief vimeo clips exists online), I find de Cointet’s stylised acts of reading and speaking alongside boldly coloured geometric shapes and furniture, articulate a scenography of art writing.

By this I mean a certain staging emergent from the workings of language within art practice, which can be traced from de Cointet’s work through to current lecture performances of, for example, Ruth Beale, Falke Pisano, and Francesco Pedraglio

I was also intrigued by de Cointet’s use of code, particularly TSNX C24VA7ME: A Play by Dr.Hun (1974, but recently published by New York’s 38th Street Publishers). If de Cointet’s theatre pieces suggest a scenography of art writing, then these works suggest writing (as a physical act but also as a form of publication, distribution and community) as code, both with and without key(s) for decoding.

Perhaps, for our purposes here, these come together in ACRCIT (1971), originally published by the artist in an edition of 700 copies. Stills of de Cointet’s Tell Me performance show ACRCIT being read and wielded as text and prop…

 

 

In her recent monograph Marie de Brugerolle describes ACRCIT as:

 

 

…a newspaper published in Los Angeles in 1971. Seven large pages, folded in two, made a newspaper of 14 recto-verso pages. It was silkscreen printed by Pierre Picot, a French artist who worked at the California Institute of the Arts. The title is printed in bold lettering; the page numbers are coded in letters. The paper includes texts encrypted in various manners: Morse Code, pyramids of figures, magic squares, and Mohammed’s signature of a double crescent (mirror writing mentions that the prophet traced his mark without lifting the point of his sword from the ground) all occupy the space like decorative motif’s, as do small palm trees.

This publication contains the principles at work in de Cointet’s other books and drawings: letters and figures function more as signs than as signifiers. De Cointet explores language by deconstructing it, in order to show that it is a question of systems. Reducing these systems to visual puzzles, he puts the reader in position of beholder, returning to a prelogical state when words were shapes and sounds. His anatomy of language is similar to experimental poetry of the early 20th century, influenced by Stéphane Mallarmé’s Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard (A Throw of the Dice Will Never Abolish Chance).

The early 1970s was also the heyday of structuralism and de Cointet was an informed reader of Barthes, whose essays deciphered systems and structures in order to reveal new relationships between form and meaning. With de Cointet the beauty and mathematical harmony of the world is translated into words and figures. This poetic alchemy relies on game-like systems, using chance as a creative principle. Language becomes a simultaneously mental, visual, auditory, and sensual experience.

De Cointet placed ACRCIT in free newspaper distributors on the street in Los Angeles. Passersby could thus procure an original if incomprehensible artwork, few of which were probably preserved. Jeffrey Perkins, the friend who was housing de Cointet at that time, recalls that the artist enjoyed the anonymity and “obvious invisibility” of things, which perhaps explains why the title itself, ACRCIT, remains mysterious. Several interpretations are possible. Homophony suggests the French word écrit (“written” or “writing”), or even ASII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange, one of the computer protocols that converts letters of the alphabet, punctuation marks, and other symbols into numbers).

Indeed, de Cointet used the binary system of 0 and 1 in his newspaper, although to indicate insignificant things.  “Only the small secrets need to be protected,” Marshall McLuhan reportedly said. “The big ones are kept secret by public incredulity.” We know that McLuhan bought one of de Cointet’s books in 1979, though there is no evidence that they ever met. But de Cointet certainly read McLuhan, and in ACRCIT he quoted the last paragraph of McLuhan’s Introduction to Understanding Media:

 

When radar was new it was found necessary to eliminate the balloon system for city protection that had preceded radar. The balloons got in the way of the electric feedback of the new radar information. Such may well prove to be the case with our existing school curriculum, to say nothing of the generality of the arts. We can afford to use only those portions of them that enhance the perception of our technologies, and their psychic and social consequences. Art as a radar environment takes on the function of indispensable perceptual training rather than the role of a privileged diet for the elite. While the arts as radar feedback provide a dynamic and changing corporate image, their purpose may not be to enable us to change but rather to maintain an even course toward permanent goals, even amidst the most disrupting innovation. We have already discovered the futility of changing our goals as often as we change our technologies.

 

 

At the dawn of the launch of the internet as a communications system devised by the US Army, de Cointet used coding methods that, although “low tech,” were equally sophisticated and widespread. What could be quicker and more direct than a free newspaper, openly available on the street, for passing information from hand to hand? Later, ACRCIT would be used in the theater pieces Iglu (1977) and Tell Me (1979).”

SOURCE: Marie de Brugerolle, Guy de Cointet (JRP Ringier, Zurich, 2011), 25-27.

 

 

 

 

 

Having copied this out I look back up at ACRCIT, considering again how de Cointet’s work offers sources both for scenographies of art writing, text as prop (held, pointed at, furniture) and codes as models for publication, distribution and practice more broadly.

I wonder how ACRCIT can be read in relation to its concrete poetry contemporary (also formed in relation with systems theory and communications technology), and how that too enters the present… different and combining… As game as enigma I note again Maria Fusco’s conception of art writing as riddle, the art object greeted by the writer as like for like, “essential obscurity with essential obscurity.”

As de Cointet begins and ends his contribution to the 1980 “Foreign Agents” issue of FILE magazine: “I can no longer find my way. / I wander about utterly confused./ Finally I stand still and engage in a short monologue…”

 

 

SOURCE: Maria Fusco, “Say Who I Am/ Or a Broad Private Wink,” in Jeff Khonsary and Melanie O’Brien, Judgement and Contemporary Art Criticism (Fillip Editions, 2010), pp73-80, p73. Image:  still from Tell Me, Rosamud Felsen Gallery, Los Angeles, 1979.

 

 

VSK PROJECT: MAURICE CARLIN: NOTES ON THE SELF PUBLISHER

In Uncategorized on September 8, 2011 at 3:18 pm

 

VerySmallKitchen writes: I first encountered The Self Publisher as part of  Preambles and Perambulations, an exhibition at The Charles Dickens museum in London, curated by Island Projects. Printed as folded and stapled A3 sheets, each issue comprised documents gathered from various copy shops throughout Manchester, later assembled and sequenced by Maurice Carlin.

As Maurice told the Shrieking Violets fanzine:

 

…I mistakenly took some stuff that had been left behind in a copy shop and I had it around for a while — I do tend to collect stuff. Sometimes you have something and you don’t know why you’re interested in it then later you realise why. Then later I thought ‘maybe all I need to do is present it differently.’.

…I’m interested in the photocopier as a format as it’s democratic — it reduces everything to a black and white image and flattens it all out. Even glossy magazine articles are reduced to a bit of text.

…It is accidental publishing. It would be quite different if I collected all the material I found on the street like scraps of paper — it is found in a place of publication and reproduction. Even if it is being reproduced for one person it is still being reproduced and published.

…I’m interested in how meaning is formed. The material I collect is both mundane and vital. A lot of it is things that are really important to people, for example propaganda — people copying 100 posters saying ‘Say no to the English Defence League’— or forms motivating people to do something.

…It’s a document of a moment just gone. I take all these different narratives and put them back to back.

 

See the full Shrieking Violets interview on The Self Publisher here.

 

The notes below are from an email exchange between VerySmallKitchen and Maurice in preparation for an installation of The Self Publisher at The Pigeon Wing in Sep/ Oct 2010 as part of WRITING/ EXHIBITION/ PUBLICATION.

From the beginning I had been fascinated by how the final magazines related to gathered materials. As well as making the publications available, I wondered if there was some way of showing the materials from which they were composed…

 

 

MAURICE: I do keep the copies that I find at the machines. I hadn’t thought of it before but yes, I think you’re right, there could be something interesting to explore between the ‘pile’ of documents (and it is a pile!) and the journals.

 

 

… It reminds me [the installations of Joseph Grigely] of a publication I attempted to make through collecting paper and other residue left behind from gig nights at Islington Mill. On the first occasion, I left paper and pens, pencils (in what I thought was quite a casual manner) around on the bar and on a few tables before people turned up for the event. In the main, I had zero responses. My guess was that the gig punters felt like they were being ‘set up’ for something.

On the other occasion, I didn’t do anything beforehand but simply collected what I found afterwards. There were some great things in there including a series of interesting/banal conversation notes written on the back of a few flyers amongst what I assumed to be 2 flat mates about an electricity meter reading earlier that day. Although, it was a small gig with only 30 – 40 people sat around at tables, the bands were incredibly loud and I assume the conversation notes were written though one of these loud sets where it would have been impossible to talk! So, I was able to make a publication for that one.

Grigelys piecing together of the notes to create narrative is interesting. I guess I do this also in the sense that I have the opportunity to choose the order in which each 2 months worth of collections will sit in the journal. My editing process stops there but I am interested in what happens when these multiple ‘discourses’ are brought together back to back. (Propaganda, personal appeals, official documents, academic texts, musical scores, letters, memo’s etc etc)

 

 

…The collections for July/Aug [2010] so far include a Primark pay advice slip, a Bar Mitzvah seating plan, ‘Sharon, the latest and greatest employee of the month’, pages from a Polish/English reading manual which contains questions like ‘ Q. Can we cut bread with the thick edge of a knife? A. No, we can’t’, ‘ Q. Why do factories put food in tins? A. Factories put food in tins to conserve it’, ‘Q. Can we balance a dinner plate on its edge? A. Yes, perhaps we can balance… but it’d be rather difficult and would depend on the type of plate’

 

 

Something I looked at was the concept of “agonistic democracy” as written about by Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau, the idea that democracy in the social sphere should ideally be based around dissensus rather than consensus, that we are a community of differences rather than bonds and by opting for one meaning or discourse, we potentially exclude a whole lot of others.

 

“Any discourse is constituted as an attempt to dominate the field of discursivity, to arrest the flow of differences, to construct a centre.” (Laclau & Mouffe, 1985, p112).

“The practice of articulation (…) consists in the construction of nodal points which partially fix meaning; and the partial character of this fixation proceeds from the openness of the social, a result, in its turn, of the constant overflowing of ever discourse by the infinitude of the field of discursivity.” (Laclau & Mouffe, 1985, p113).

 

 

…So, I’ve been having a play around with how the journals and the piles of collected material could be displayed in the Pigeon Wing exhibition. A few photos are attached…

 

 

 

I’ve been using parts from a collection of old 1980’s green Crystal ‘suspension files’ that I found recently in a skip. The green binder parts are a perfect fit for the journals. In the photograph here, I’ve left the tab on which says something like ‘Ass. Furniture’. These remind me of the victorian wooden binders to which newspapers in cafes and libraries would be attached to, I don’t have the name for them? I could attach some string or ribbon through the holes and these could simply be hung around the space. I guess there are links to be made with found materials and I also like the associations with ordering and redundant systems for ‘managing’ documents.

The 2 other pictures here are where I’ve been scattering the piles of collected papers around the floor. In some cases chalking out their outline, collecting them and dispersing them again, repeating this process to build up a series of outlines on the floor.

 

 

I’ve attached some images below showing some further ideas that I’ve been experimenting with for showing the work. I’ve put some text under each image to explain further.

 

 

Hanging the journals using builders ‘string line’ attached to the holes in the suspension files. The string line is coloured yellow for ease of visibility and I guess there are obvious associations with order, measure, standards, containment etc

 

 

 

As above

 

 

 

Using rejected pieces of buckram bookcloth (found and purchased in a bookbinding suppliers factory), I’ve wrapped the piles of collected material loosely and arranged on tables. I imagine that this is a presentation which would allow visitors to the exhibition to leaf through the material and it not being important if documents were put back in a different order, fell onto the ground etc.

There is a connection here with the photocopies, both being rejected materials not fit for purpose, although it may not be immediately obvious with either. There may also be a common theme in both the bookcloth wrapping and the use of the suspension files (and perhaps in the journals themselves) as being at the same time both an acceptance and a rejection of order.

Acceptance in the sense of going part way towards realising a system of classification which would attribute ‘meaning’.  Rejection in the halting of the binding/finishing/editing process part way leaving everything unresolved and open ended.

 

 

As above, laid out on 2 tables

 

 

The journals linked to each other using wire and hung from a central point. As a display or composition it has a cascading, tumbling effect which I like but perhaps is overly cumbersome to read..

 

….

 

DAVID: Are you still thinking of the chalk markings/ scatterings as a possibility for The Pigeon Wing?… I had been thinking of a central space in the centre of the room for your installation. Think of it as a rectangle in the middle of the space about a metre and a half wide and two metres long (roughly).

I like the images of the long tables a lot, but am slightly worried that there are several table projects already (projects that don’t adapt to another form)  and that anymore would make the space difficult to navigate. We also have an archive/ reading space at one end so I’d like to have some different form of engagement in how other projects are presented…

 

 

MAURICE:  I’ve had a look at the picture of the space again. There is a nice rectangular black patch to the centre of the floor which would probably make good ground for chalk lines. It looks as though there may have been a table or perhaps a piece of machinery sitting there before in a previous life of the building? with the footworn parts around the edges…

 

 

THE INSTALLATION

 

(1)

 

 

(2)

 

 

*

 

If each issue of The Self Publisher is a mapping of Manchester, as a concept it can be applied more widely.

One of the issues displayed at The Pigeon Wing had been made during the occupation in protest at the closure of Middlesex University philosophy department. After The Pigeon Wing, in December 2010, Maurice Carlin made an issue as part of Midnight Coffee Preview in Antwerp. As Maurice told the Shrieking Violets:

 

…I had no idea if it would translate into a different place. In Antwerp I had to make more of a choice when deciding which material to put in. There was more material in English than I had expected and I chose more in English than was perhaps representative.

…I was really surprised the things I found related so directly to the place. Lots of the material related to Antwerp, for example one person wrote an abstract about Antwerp as a port town.

…Someone suggested I should go ask copy shops for the material. I went in to shops and asked if they had any old paper they were going to dump. There’s less suspicion of that kind of thing there and they handed a pile over. I asked copy shops when I got back to Manchester and they said they couldn’t possibly give it out for confidentiality reasons.

…There is more openness and transparency in Antwerp.

 

As I compile these notes – in the process of writing an essay on Maurice’s work – he is artist in residence at Banner Repeater, the gallery and artists bookstore/ archive on platform 1 of Hackney Downs railway station.

When I first visit, copy shop findings are arranged on the wall. For the show’s opening the new issue is published. The design puts “PUBLISHER” on the front cover, and “THE SELF” on the back, which is a starting point for thinking how artist/ asssembler/ editor  both appears and disappears throughout the various stages of entwining between container and contents…

 

 

For more info and to purchase/ subscribe to The Self Publisher email Maurice at deaddigital@islingtonmill.com

 

 

VSK PROJECT: JILL MAGI an extract from SLOT

In Uncategorized on September 6, 2011 at 5:02 pm

 

 

 

then I had news        people were washed away they say

water went away they say            fog was not complete

 

they say your eyes do not mistakes

people were washed away

 

from the nothing

the increase

 

from the tile the paver the sacred the numinous

to gather from his hairbrush the news

 

the fork the wire the sacred small papers of rain

the beam the cutter was not they say

 

from the nothing

the increase the many the faded the washed away

 

your eyes do not make mistakes

they say

“On my way to Hiroshima,” wrote Noguchi, “where I was to propose the design of two bridges for the Peace Park, I stopped by the city of Gifu to watch the cormorant fishing.”

 

How far beneath and silently?

 

“A low wall, perhaps four feet in height, surrounds upturned video monitors emitting blue light. This modesty screen is intended to prevent small children from watching the graphic and murderous scenes.”

 

“A clerestory, pronounced clearstory, is a high wall with a band of narrow windows along the very top.”

 

She wrote that disasters are revealers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which comfort do you seek, wringing out the sorrow previously held in order to make way for the new?

 

How much violence is an echo?

 

 

 

I await your reply, which I expect will be global-

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Flannel-board Story Activity:

 

Please help students compare their lives to the enslaved child.

 

Dear Charter of Rights and Freedoms: Welcome

 

to a dynamic opinion pulse

 

that illustrates the tensions of translating. Dear Lesson Plan:

 

watch digitally enlarged sentences scroll upward in a vertical polling chamber and feel the proof of it,

 

my craning neck. Dear Conspiracy: Take your opinion

 

and make me a city.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Tower of Faces: I know nothing about you

 

except your collective status as victim. Archive: We are coping

 

with huge sets of historical data.

 

Visitors: Use your key

 

to record opinions immediately,

 

tally and present your pillar of thought, your architect, our father, your mark.

 

Sincerely yours, White Wall of Rescuers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the lowest right corner of the wall, I read the following instructions:

 

To see the real thing, no reconstructions, a student will make a diorama depicting history to the left, such as Anne Frank, and to the right of the register: black people in miniature, plus a squaw, another squaw,

 

to purchase to make a disaster event with feathers with beads with real –

 

 

 

 

We tell the world what the children draw for sale will save us.

 

 

 

Dear Venn Diagram:

Students will write a class story dealing with a slave who becomes free, using free-writing to express feelings, fast, without thinking, without crossing out, and preferably timed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Platforms will be built with seminal views to reconnect the visitor to the outside world.”

 

 

 

 

But visitor, where did you go?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A marble floor tile shifts

 

and in its loosened state I slip down into a basement

and there I meet Fred Wilson, mining the museum, saying:

 

“This situation in the world is not particularly worse than other moments. It just depends on who you are. It helps to diffuse the anxiety knowing that you’re in this continuum.”

 

 

He pulls paintings out of storage. He draws a line to that point.

 

 

 

“Despite red velvet linings, memories are like nettles that come back long after the first touch.”

 

“Whose memories?”

 

“I have a family,” answers the didactic.

 

 

 

 

 

from the nothing the increase

I make a space

 

between me and this room

what I feel of my old sadness

 

is a shining blue-like body

from the nothing to the increase

 

I reproduce myself endlessly

causing little figures

 

drawing thin lines

I break

 

with mourning

after the 13th day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rough Guide to the USA

Let’s Go USA

Rough Guide to New York City

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regarding the Pain of Others by Susan Sontag

Lonely Planet USA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Language of Inquiry and One Continuous Mistake hold bookmarks that read “Borders Books.”

 

A month after the event, the kind man told me to go and mourn the destroyed books. He unfurled the following blueprint:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To give a glass bowl.

Go into the forest and hang their clothes from trees.

 

 

To make a new entrance to the building.

Give everyone a new name.

 

 

So as to remember the ruin.

Leave a space in the new house undone –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, Peter Eisenman explains how he fought to keep names off the stones of the Berlin Holocaust memorial.

 

At the ceremony to mark the beginning of its construction, he stumbles: “I never at many moments thought we would build this and here it is.”

 

The project is delayed when the company commissioned to make an anti-graffiti coating for the stones is found to have also produced gas for Nazi extermination camps.

 

On the day that the memorial opens, an “unidentified youth” is photographed jumping from pillar to pillar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Documentary:

Catalogue this wood-rot, this moss

encroaching. Preserve the footprint.

Bar-code a furrowed brow.

 

Please slot

your next erosion event with us.

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

 

This is an extract from Jill Magi’s SLOT, forthcoming from Ugly Duckling Presse Dossier Series this fall.  Read the text as the author’s PDF here

Jill’s AUDIO LETTER TO DAVID, part of her SMALL TALK SMALL BOOKS residency for VerySmallKitchen’s DEPARTMENT OF MICRO-POETICS is here.

 

JUST PUBLISHED: 100 THINGS NOT WORTH REPEATING: ON REPETITION

In Uncategorized on September 6, 2011 at 2:13 pm

x

 

This Thursday September 8th at 7pm sees the launch at X Marks the Bökship of 100 THINGS NOT WORTH REPEATING: ON REPETITION, edited by Marianne Holm Hansen, who describes the book as follows:

 

100 THINGS NOT WORTH REPEATING:ON REPETITION is part of a series of projects that all examine repetition in general, and the usefulness of assuming repetition as a model for progression, in particular.

In 2007, and in response to a situation where repetition of the same task was beginning to seem pointless, she initiated the project ‘100 things not worth repeating’; an online public survey with the specific aim of collecting-to-share examples of when repetition proves futile. As survey responses where received, conversations regarding repetition in general, and the usefulness of assuming repetition as a method for progression, in particular, took place.

The publication 100 things not worth repeating: on repetition presents one hundred selected responses to the online survey ‘100 things not worth repeating’. These survey submissions are contextualised by artworks, essays and textworks on the topic of repetition, including contributions by David Berridge, Marina Grzinic, Rupert Hartley, Juliet Haysom, Roni Horn, Barbara Johnstone, Joan Jonas, James Morris, Jonathan Ree, Fred Scharman, Mike Solomon, Sue Tompkins, Jill Townsley and Lucy Wilson.

 

For the launch we met on Sunday to devise a reading performance of the section of the book comprising answers to Marrianne’s questionaire. The rest of the book, a reader on repetition, includes my essay REPETITION LECTURES, a series of imaginary lectures.  I will be exploring how to make these actual lectures for a workshop around the project that will take place in November. Here are the first three lectures:

 

 

LECTURE 1

 

…Artists relish repetition, committed as they are to the micro-level of difference, where the “same” utterance is altered by an always changing context. I’m thinking of a certain kind of artist: Stein, Stockhausen or Cage, for whom repetition is successful when it’s not. As Cage observed in his Lecture on Nothing, “it’s only repetition if you own it.” [1]

In everyday conversation, the stakes are different. One mustn’t be seen to repeat too much, or be deemed boring. My parents and their friends watch each others conversations, fearing for repetitions that might signal early alzheimer’s. Yet that admonishment of repetition is, of course, itself based upon the repetition of habit, the necessity of repeated actions of eating, sleeping, learning…

Repetition is the tangled condition of our lives. In this series of lectures I will engage more consciously with an already existent, necessary practice of repetition, welcoming its paradoxes, with the aim also of seeing how the repetition of the avant-garde and that of daily life could work together.

 

Tuesday evening. ‘Have you been getting enough material?’ Stockhausen asks me after dinner. ‘It’s going everywhere.’
    ‘Yes, it has to be corralled.’
    ‘No, it would be marvelous if the book communicated this multiple quality.’
    ‘Every once in a while,’ I say, ‘you return to things you’ve discussed before, and sometimes I think you’re repeating certain things, but actually I realize later that you’ve been speaking from a different perspective and therefore what you’re saying is new.’ [2]

 

… If repetition is defined by the gap between two acts, then a conscious practice of repetition has to focus on that gap, what happens between the two moments, which might have nothing to do with the repeated act itself.

This act itself wouldn’t be the same, of course, although we are assuming it is. A sentence would be emphasised and enunciated differently; a physical action would fail by millimetres to occupy the template of its predecessor.

A poetics of repetition, if that’s what I’m after, is about faith and amnesia, a willingness to ignore the gap and live in the moment as magic or boredom or both…

 

 

LECTURE TWO

 

… I’m looking through a certain history of American poetics, which offers a rich engagement with repetition across poets and generations, seeing how its components and tension points are expressed by different writers. Take Lyn Hejinian:

 

Repetition, conventionally used to unify a text or harmonize its parts, as if returning melody to the tonic… Here, where certain phrases  recur in the work, recontextualized and with new emphasis, repetition disrupts the initial apparent meaning scheme. [3] The initial reading is adjusted; meaning is set in motion, emended and extended, and the rewriting that repetition becomes postpones completion of the thought indefinitely. [4]

 

Nathaniel Mackey relates repetition to the serial poem, its practice in Robert Duncan’s “The Structure of Rime” and “Passages” sequences as well as his own “Song of the Andoumboulou” series, installments of which appear in several of Mackey’s books, assessed at one moment in its unfolding writing as follows:

 

As for serial form, lately I’ve been more attentive to a dark accent or inflection running through its recourse to repetition, the sense of limits one again andagain bumps up against, limits one would get beyond if one could. This qualifies, if not brings to a crisis, the form’s promise of openness, possibility, advance. The form lends itself to a feeling for search but to one of insufficiency as well, to prospects of advance as well as to the not always happy fact of déjà vu. [5]

 

… To fuse the avant garde and the everyday, I decide that I will repeat the story in the pub. The hilarious story of X. I thought at first this meant I would “just” say the same thing again and again. Actually it means I am responsible for what happens in between, in changing, well, everything, so that my repetition can be heard as a new utterance. I am daunted and depressed.

I will repeat my story weeks apart, and people will not know it is repetition… Only they do know. They roll their eyes. They interrupt and try to stop me. My compulsion to tell it again is matched by their desire not to listen. I need to break out of this cycle.

 

The idea that my life is a collection of emotions cycling has made me somewhat depressed. That the sadness I feel for a particular thing over a particular time will be replaced or washed out by some good news that carries me for a while, which subsequently is dulled by a period of confusion – that confusion becoming complexity resulting in the writing of a book, whose subsequent deliverance in the world creates happiness, then numbness. To see all of this repeating, when I am so hot and live so far away from the center of my new city, is more than I can bear. But even that is somewhere in the cycle. [6]

 

Renee Gladman’s To After That (Toaf) is a novella about a novella that was never published. She works on this novella extensively over many years, through a series of repetitions/transformation within the concept of “draft.” Stubbornly, the planned novella never shifts from “work-in-progress” to the quality of “absorption” by which Gladman identifies a finished, publishable work.

Or, rather, to be published it has to become this other book, this book about the (never) book. For Gladman this is how the book can be finished, resolved. Because a writing about repetition, a poetics of resolution, needs to think about resolution, ways of stepping outside of the cycles. Drafts are not enough. There needs to be X.

Is there repetition or is there insistence. I am inclined to believe there is no such thing as repetition. And really how can there be. [7]

In Gertrude Stein’s “Portraits and Repetition”, written in 1934 for her US lecture tour, she observes how “There is only repetition when there are descriptions being given of those things not when the things themselves are actually existing.” [8] Throughout Stein’s lecture a quality of “being most intensely alive”[9] is articulated through but against repetition, with Stein aware that repetition is how her writing will be commonly perceived and dismissed:

 

If it had been repetition it would not have been exciting  but it was exciting and it was not repetition. It never is. I never repeat that is while I am writing… existing as a human being, that is being listening and hearing is never repetition. [10]

 

Stein unfolded such positions from her sense that “this generation has conceived an intensity of movement so great that it has not to be seen against something else to be known” [11]. The strip of film, with its series of images, each containing “a slightly different thing” and combining “to make it all be moving” [12] is the model for Stein of how this non-repeating recurrence operates.

Like Stein, I find myself making sense here by moving between acts of writing and everyday life, but I find it impossible to confine “repetition” to a sense of “existing” as “that which you are actually doing.” [13] Reading “Portraits and Repetition” I inhabit the creative possibilities of both this ongoing film-like sequence of differentiation, and of what so abhors Stein: the descriptive, dead, stationary, and not themselves.

 

LECTURE 3

 

… I propose a poetics of repetition suitable both for being on the page and for being read aloud. It is formed by this tension and simultaneity. In any one state, its potential for repetition in the other is insistent.

This requires a particular form of writing that, in its eagerness to be both, fictionalizes everything. Such a strategy invites writer and reader to wait with relish for the moments when it breaks down.

 

 

Exercise (1): Get rid of the traditional poet and text. Repetition moves us into a textual landscape of statistics, averages and means.

Exercise (2): Invent a comedy act generating humour through repetition not identification. [14]

 

everybody said the same thing over and over again with infinite variations but over and over again until finally if you listened with great intensity

 

Some things, too, that are amusing when you first see or say them become immeasurably sad upon repetition

 

you could hear it rise and fall and tell all that that there was was inside them, not so much by the actual words they said or the thoughts they had but the movement of their thoughts and words endlessly the same and endlessly different.” [15]

 

… I’m trying to make some characters, out of people I know, “figures” through which I can think about repetition in the everyday. X did the same job every day for fifty years. Y’s work was a repetitive task eight hours a day.

Both are one dimensional figures, deliberately so to enable a meeting of idea and experience, but someone/ thing else soon takes over, repeating tropes, the gathering of words and thoughts, on a level of anxiety I thought behind me-

 

This was supposed to be a part time job selling secondhand books. Everyone loves me where I work, but it is because I am not real when I am there. One day everyone happens to exhale at the same time and I am blown out of the bookshop into a passing lorry and its going to Scotland so why not, I think, a new life.

Working at the bookshop was always posited on the day when I would not be there, so I was always expecting some sort of magical air lift or removal beyond its endless shelves. This was that moment, I guess, but all five senses have broken down after my brain was infested by a tiny bacteria you only get in old books, so it’s hard to work out what’s happening.  

When I started work at the bookshop I promised myself that when I left I would focus only on my writing, nothing else, total dedication, but the lorry driver wants me to have a conversation…

 

… I’m going to step outside in order to experience repetition more directly. In attempting to shift from monograph to workbook Robert Filliou’s Teaching and Learning as Performing Arts (1970) leaves a third of each page blank for readers notes and comments.

I wanted to repeat that here, repeating the old style yellow notepaper of my i-phone notepad, although I think, as gift and as assumption about participation, Filliou’s book-gesture fails. I’ve only ever since expensive copies of Filliou’s book in second hand book shops, and no one has ever written into the blank spaces. As repeated here it will, therefore, be a conceptual white third of the page, and compliance will be compulsory. Now write.

 

 

NOTES

 

[1] John Cage, ‘Lecture on Nothing’ in Silence (Wesleyan University Press, Hanover, 1961), 110.

[2] Jonathan Cott, Stockhausen: Conversations with Composer (Picador, London, 1974, 122).

[3] Hejinian is discussing Robert Grenier’s Cambridge M’ass, Bruce Andrew’s “Love Song 41” and her own My Life.

[4] Lyn Hejinian, The Language of Inquiry (University of California Press, Berekeley, 2000), 44.

[5] Nathaniel Mackey, Paracritical Hinge: Essays, Talks, Notes, Interviews (ThMadison, 2005), 336.

[6] Rennee Gladman, To After That (Toaf)(Atelos, Berkeley, 2008), 47.

[7] Gertrude Stein, “Portraits and Repetition” in Look at Me Now and Here I Am: Writing and Lectures 1909-45 (Penguin, 1971), 100. To give a sense of how “repetition” might be a trope around which to construct literary community and lineage: Stein’s lecture is also heavily cited in Hejinian’s The Language of Inquiry, with Hejinian one of the editors at Atelos, Gladman’s publisher.

[8] Ibid.,102.

[9] Ibid., 102.

[10]Ibid.,107.

[11] Ibid., 99-100.

[12] Ibid., 107.

[13] Ibid., 107.

[14] Jokes eluded me, but I perfected the physical mannerisms and timing of the comedian, until I could repeat them exactly, inserting the unfunniest language into their container. Abandoning language altogether would have made me mime and unbookable. Body language is elliptical, but the hopefulness of my endeavour, I believe, won over some in the audience who were initially hostile.

[15] Gertrude Stein, quoted in Hejininan, ibid., 290.

 

x

 

 

100 things not worth repeating: on repetition edited by Marianne Holm Hansen LemonMelon 2011 | £10 | Softback | 244pp | 16.5 x 21.5 cm | ISBN 978 1 908260 01 7 | Edition of 350. Order here.

PRESS FREE PRESS: A TIME FOR WORK THE ONLINE VERSION IS HERE

In Uncategorized on September 4, 2011 at 10:10 am

 

 

Press Free Press were in residence for VerySmallKitchen’s WRITING/EXHIBITION/PUBLICATION at The Pigeon Wing in September- October 2010. In response to VerySmallKitchen’s invitation the following project was devised:

 

 

Press free press present A TIME FOR WORK, a month-long durational activity. Within the space, they mark their non-space. This is their office. Two workers will operate under conditions of increased and decreased resistance, navigated by voices communicating from outside the city. They will attempt to map the exhibition through the means at their disposal: by writing, processing and editing a document that exists in constant flux.

 

 

Each day of the exhibition a (writer) worker arrived to find an instruction on the office phone. They carried out the task requested, writing by hand, leaving the days production in the office out tray when they left, and taking a previous workers product home to be typed up.

The manuscripts were returned and stapled to the wall during the writer’s next shift. At the time and since VerySmallKitchen wondered what form the work would take apart from the exhibition, whether the mass of writing would be edited into a book, developed into new performances and texts, or…

 

 

For now, the material/ writing has found form as on online PDF library that both preserves and (re-)creates the original installation, allowing a jpeg of the original installation to function as shelf and catalogue for a series of PDF files, one for each of 23 work shifts. Enter here.

At this distance, in comparison with the description above, I note press free press now describe the project as follows:

 

 

A TIME FOR WORK was a month long writing residency. press free press became a working company. Their place of work an office installed in the Pigeon Wing gallery (view images); two wooden boards constructed to make a cubicle, a paper floor, one chair, an inbox, an outbox, an overflow, a stack of paper, a company phone, a box of writing tools.

This installation was designed to function as a working office; where the office employees came and went in accordance with their rota and the company was bound by a contract (read CONTRACT). press free press functioned as a company investigating the action of writing in duration, writing as a performative action, writing to document a process, writing as publication, publishing as exhibition and performance.

 

 

Note what shifts and expands between these two descriptions, perfunctory statements for press release and home page that also show the specific becoming general, description turning documentary and score, how language functions within the prosthetic body of the Press Free Press project.

 

 

 

 

Perhaps other forms for the writing may be forthcoming, or perhaps this site offers closure. The momentums of texts interact with the practicalities of time and new projects that emerge, and it’s an act of anti-entropic generosity to oneself and others to present these writings as hard copy(able) texts versus exhibition as memory and image-myth.

What one shift worker (Becky Cremin) wrote regarding a book of another (Ryan Ormonde’s The of of the film of The book and The of of the book of The Film, published by The Knives, Forks and Spoons Press, 2011) is also true of the texts here and their presence in/ between locations and times, adding in the edit/curatorial to what is moving:

 

 

This repetition is out of time, it shifts and escapes itself to form interesting patterns. Patterns which fold onto each other, which refract and reflect and multiply to only crumble again. I like this. The body is alive with sounds that repeat, re-utter themselves and get re-defined. The possibility for change comes in the form of the word being the same but sounding different or sounding different and being the same. 

 

 

*

 

 

Thinking about  A TIME FOR WORK a year later, I remember how the office, large and central in The Pigeon Wing space, could also become almost invisible, how Becky and Ryan could become invisible, working there as other meetings took place nearby, or people made lunch in the gallery kitchen…

I remember B and R had different strategies for negotiating the visibility/ invisibility of their writing/shifts, saying hallo, chatting, or not, but always focussed on the work required rather than small talk; the office/writing as a space apart; how it was odd to realise that someone was there writing, to wonder if one was included in the sense of site the writer was unfolding, and how; to be equally surprised that the writer had suddenly, shift over, gone. The texts do not have to verify.

I remember the TIME FOR WORK office when no worker was there, how people seemed reluctant to enter, although not the gallery cat. Discussing the project prior to the exhibition, there was a plan to have a pathway marked from the office to the front door, beyond which they would not tread. This was deemed unnecessary, exchanged for a ritualising of entry into the space itself, the painted shoes to put on, its repetitive actions…

 

 

I’ll stop there, as it seems wrong to be talking about A TIME FOR WORK as a project that happened then and there, when it also didn’t, and now it does and is and will be.

…all these, of course, not about the writing itself, how is it the writing itself, as if the TIME FOR that is now… 

 

 

04/09/11 NOTES ON READING SHIFT FOUR

 

Work tied to the word, its material form, its permutations, as are consciousness and time. Work what makes such propositions apparent. Writing as work has to turn to the materiality of the word, otherwise it might seem scything-sciving-scribing

Work as writing is the physical act of writing, which is why the instruction for shift four ties hope so closely to the hand, first the right and then the left. Materiality is also “keep going.”

In this PDF writing (work) finds an order, a uniformity (every shift 25 pages, not specified in the score) and an anonymity (who wrote edited typed up this one?) (One?). A construction of a shift, a vision of work, tight adherence to frame.

Something happens in this commitment to materiality. We’re (We?) shifting letters/syllables, but there’s an emergent property that seems to demonstrate an ethics and utility, without leaving its constraints. Justify. Clarify.

Text as word shape on the page. Text as sounded. A text could unfold for ever in the need to clarify the differences between these. That could be momentum -say -say -say -say.

A clean writing, too, transparent about its starting point and structures, from which any content must come. Of harm. Risk and.

Word reversal. If only all transformations could be this simple, such mirror hinges puncturing page. This is hopeful. Size of text. Our work, urban spaces, regulations, health and safety, attempts to position ourselves in site, in galleries, in high, in harm, in low, in non…

Adding space between letters available tactic.

 

 

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In the recollections above I forgot the A TIME FOR WORK office rubbish bin, of thrown away texts, that – paper pieces plucked out – could be inserted into new texts, days, writings, shifts. I also remember at the closing performance long windedly attempting to introduce the project, as its final performance unfolded on its own, fine by itself, its own claim and fiction, such attempts already absorbed into its structure and presentation.

Looking through the A TIME FOR WORK website I propose: Don’t think of what you find here as products of a single place and time (The Pigeon Wing, September-October 2010). Writing was prompted by scores sent from elsewhere, nodes of a network of peoples/ times/ places before and after. Its handwritten notes were transcribed by other hands, keyboards, into other formats; as further editing suggestions and constraints have led to the form of the texts presented here. That stops. This continues.

VSK RESIDENCY: PAUL ANTONY CARR: NATHANIEL’S PERPETUAL MOTION (2)

In Uncategorized on September 1, 2011 at 9:40 am

 

“The music gets slow quickly, and gets slower slowly.”

2011. Ink on paper. 8.5 x 7.25 in.

 

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“The tune will not loop, but instead continue to play toward its unattainable termination while steadily reducing speed. Nathaniel attempts to achieve this by creating points on the sound file’s timeline and stretching them apart. The first point is a nanosecond from the start of the track. The second point is initially a nanosecond from the first point, but Nathaniel increases this distance to two nanoseconds. The distance continues to increase in ever larger proportions between each successive point. Eventually, there will be a distance between two points that is too long for Nathaniel to comprehend. Nathaniel refers to this as Segment X. Inconceivable is how much greater the length of the subsequent segment is to that of Segment X. Equally inconceivable is how far less the length of the preceding segment is to that of Segment X.”

2011. Ink on paper. 8.5 x 7 in.

 

 

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“After wasting several hours working on this musical project, Nathaniel realizes that there is no possibility of ever listening to a completed version of the track. For the music to become infinitely slower as playback progresses, it can never reach its end. To listen to the work in progress would be to listen to something both  incomplete and complete at the same time. The unfinished project has not accomplished what is intended of it, and yet it will play to a point of completion. The completed project has attained a goal, a conclusion, but an infinite repetition of technique is required of Nathaniel to enact the proposed design. To declare “done” is to quit the project. In all ways conceivable, the work can never be finished. To listen to it at any stage, no matter how close – or not close – to being what he wants it to be, is indicative of failure.”

2011. Ink on paper. 8.5 x 6.75 in.

 

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This is the second 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. See the first post of this residency  here.