Wednesday, 16 February 2011

A story/ a Barthesian reflection/ a collection of words

Just a little story that I recently wrote for Rachel Marsden's current project 'Words are all we have' which she will discuss in the upcoming symposium Type Writing at BIAD. And some visual paraphernalia to keep it company ... 


When he was writing, he felt different; liberated almost. A bit like nothing mattered because he showed nobody his words; they were his secret. And, he knew that the words would not betray him because this writing happened in his thoughts, or in fleeting moments on scraps of paper he would find here and there, and keep, secretly stashed in a little box under his bed.

One day, he noticed that the box was very full. It overflowed with an abundance of words and little snippets of writing, that, when he ran his hand through them, danced around in the little box. He put the box on his bed and decided, in a moment of contemplation, to unfold them and open out his words; to gather them up.

As he looked at them all laid out like little toy soldiers, he wondered: which way do they go? where is the beginning and where is the end? where are the edges of the words and where is the middle? All of a sudden, a big gust of wind blew through the window and all of the bits of paper whooshed up; fluttering in the air like butterflies and slowly gliding back down in a scattered pile. One piece fluttered down, lingering and dancing seductively in front of him, and his secret written words landed on the floor, next to a strange and rather odd looking contraption called a ‘typewriter. “To type write?” he said aloud, “what a wonderful idea!”

And so, he proceeded to type up all of his fluttering fragments on the strange machine called the ‘typewriter’. He gathered up all of the pieces of paper that had looked after his words for so long and with a great sense of purpose, he pressed the keys of the letters of the words from the little bits of paper, which pressed the long strange silver things into an even more strange bit of ribbon which transformed into letters on the page.

So enthralled was he at the type writing, that he became feverishly engaged in hitting the keys to make his words all appear together for the first time, and before long, little errors began to appear on the page. At first he did not notice. And then, as he admired his work, he noticed slippages between words; where t’s became y’s and u’s became i’s. And strange symbols like [‘s and :’s and !’s and #’s appeared through his words; scattered throughout the surface of the page.

He stopped for a moment and waited for a feeling of anxiety from these slippages. But, it did not come. Instead, these errors gave him pleasure and he embraced them into his gathering of words. Every slippage becoming a new-found and untouched version of his self. These accidental stutters made him think of all the other stutters created from the words on the tips of other people’s fingers and the fingers on the tips of other people’s words who had pressed down onto the very same keys. Each stutter, stumble, slippage was a mediated pause on his own existence that was filled with silences, stains and imperfections. Every stutter like an unnecessary silence on nothingness.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Making and unmaking text ...

I recently spent an amazing three days at the Beyond Text: Making and Unmaking Text event at the Centre for Collaborative Collaboration in London.

I always find events or conferences such as these quite scary because of meeting so many new people in one go! However, aside from the works and presentations, I find that it is the encounters with other people and the dialogues that occur throughout these events that make them so inspirational and interesting. 'Making and Unmaking Text' was an event of
and much more.

I really liked the collaborative aspect of the event and how the participants got involved in each other's work, in the gaps and pauses in-between these experiences. I loved Alison Gibb's talk about her recent work which is made up of lines of found text and her readings of some of her recent work. 
I really like the idea of collaging multiple fragments of text together so that it can generate its own language through the negotiation of these multiple narratives and also looking at writing as an exploration into a new undefined space. All of the participants also constructed a collaborative piece of text out of text that we had each individually found in the space which was tres fun : )

I also took part in Waldemar Pranckiewicz's 'Spam-Cut-Up-Visitor's Book' where the audience is invited to create spam poetry by randomly selected fragments of text and reconfiguring them. I noticed afterwards as well that there is a rather nice photo of me participating on his website!

There were so many great presentations and performances including Janine Harrington, Fiona Hanley and Joanna Sperryn-Jones to name just a few. To be honest, everything made an impression in some way or another!
Heather Connelly

Joanna Sperryn-Jones

Isabelle Parkinson

The notion of making and unmaking text is central to my research and it was a great opportunity to rethink and unthink this intensely and to experiment with my ideas in the context of the event. I presented my paper 'writing making (or making writing)' on the third day. I say paper but really it was a sort of performative reading of a 'thing' that embodied the idea of making writing and the overlapping of writing and painting and also I suppose the very thingness of the thing. I also projected images of my own work and the work of other artists onto the wall behind me that acted as an extra visual layer to reading/performing/presenting the 'thing'.
I hadn't rehearsed reading through it before so it was interesting how I had to fight against the paper as I was turning it and navigating my way through the words which I think very much reflects the ungraspable nature of writing and the text. I get really nervous before I speak in front of people although I enjoy it when I'm actually doing it. I had to try not to shake too much with all the damn adrenaline running around my body as I moved through the text! 

As the text was about writing making and making writing, the paper articulated the collisions between writing and making both textually and materially; words seeped down the page and oozed like paint and turned into marks that were collaged, stitched and printed.
Like the slippage that occured between the processes of writing and making in the text, the idea of in-between-ness and of rupturing seemed to emerge throughout the three days. I find that I am situated within or in-between discourses and am very much an in-betweener so it was really nice for my ideas to collide with that of other people's whose ideas were also situated in the overlapping of different frameworks or art practices such as poetry, performance and dance.

There was also an ever expanding spontaneous archive in the space that included thoughts, text, work by participants, reflections on the talks and performances, ideas and questions. Things were added into the space over the duration of the event and it was really interesting to see it build up in a performative way in response to people's encounters and experiences.
These chaps above are the two pieces of work that I made to be put in the archive which I've stitched, drawn, painted and added text to. I like how someone has stuck a needle next to my work as well! I never did figure out who that was ...