Developing from an art writing residency at Modern Art Oxford, establishing a visual vocabulary of choreography, instruction and transcription. The residency has seen the creation of a new artist book and video installation as part of my ongoing investigation of the gaps between words and things, rules and games, intentions and accidents.
I meant to end this blog months ago.
The residency itself ended in February and we launched the book in early July. But happily Keeping Time won’t go away. Projects never have neat endings do they, even if events and exhibitions claim to formally conclude them. There’s always an afterlife, or an aftermath, or whatever you’d want to call it.
Part of the aftermath of Keeping Time is a series of meetings I’ve been having with an Oxford branch of the Poetry Society. Some of the poets came along to my first Modern Art Oxford artist talk back in February, and this evening I’m going to show the work to the remaining poets and invite them all to respond in some way. After that first artist talk a couple of the poets spontaneously sent me responses to my work—a wonderful surprise—so I think there will be some interest in responding further. We’re keeping the brief intentionally broad to begin with, and I have no idea what directions it might take once the individual poets make it their own.
If I were writing from the video myself I think I’d focus on its structure: how the line keeps moving and can never be still; how you never get to read or identify anything it produces; how it enacts rather than describes a certain temporal situation of writing. But I’m aware that this is already what happens in much of my own poetic writing.. which is partly why Keeping Time ended up as it did.
So when I present the work this evening I’ll have to be careful to describe but not to prioritize my own interest. I’m keen for the poets to rummage through Keeping Time and its draft videos and take whatever direction they choose from start to end, rather than feeling their work needs to stay with mine or return to it.
We’ll see what happens tonight.
What a good surprise to find Emily Rosamond’s Choice Blog review this morning! I want to think more about the Bergson coils, which remind me of these vertiginous attempts I’ve been making to capture time in writing, when time stays still neither on the page nor in the air around it.
I’ve put him on my reading list. In the meantime, this tricky meeting ?between language and gesture, letter and line,? as Rosamond puts it, remains energetic and irresponsibly productive. Badiou’s conception of love as a cultivation of difference makes a wonderful analogy for the consequences of gripping onto a metaphor even when it gets unwieldy.
I found the wire in ‘Doing Words with Things’ sometimes worked like an excessively extended metaphor, setting off in language then stretching into things language can’t do. When a metaphor stretches beyond its natural bounds the analogy breaks down?but if you keep hold of it all the same, the broken-down bits fold back into metaphor and force something new into existence.
Sometimes, for instance, the wire construction got too big to handle and Alex would reach over to support a branch of it himself, or grab one of the spools for me and hold it while he signed. Having to simultaneously shape his hands to accommodate both language and wire threw the analogy of letter and line into confusion, and it created new possibilities of expression: the words were forced to shape themselves around the physical edges of the objects they were describing, and at times the objects took over altogether so we were representing things not with words at all, but with the things themselves. After a minute or two the wire bundle would become more manageable again and I’d pull it back into my arms or he?d give back the spool, and this new ambiguity between words and things would subside for a while.
The lurching focus of Rosamond’s tuning fork simile will stay with me: ?The wire mass is like a strangely-manufactured tuning fork, through which the airborne charge of radical difference lurches in and out of focus.? Perhaps the shifting position of the wire?sometimes almost inside language, sometimes far outside it?does similar work to a quick succession of abandoned analogies, each one offering a temporary landing site from which to start again and again, the ground a little more shaken each time.
There. Fifty olololos safely delivered to the gallery by bike this afternoon. It didn’t dare rain on me.
I’m giving my hands and the muscles of my arms a REST before I get started on the last seventy or so.
My hands hurt. I’ve stuck a plaster on the index finger of my right hand and the muscles of my left arm are sore. I’m on olololo number 78, of which I’ve done about 12 since this morning. Once I’ve scored each one I sign and number it, and I’ve noticed my numbers and signatures are getting increasingly bedraggled as I go on because I can’t hold the pen neatly enough. I think my fingers need a bit of stretching.
The last of the 150 unscored books were couriered from Book Works to Modern Art Oxford a couple of weeks ago. I collected them last week and I’m trying to complete as many as I can to return to MAO when I visit tomorrow.
I’ve been using a scrap olololo page to note down the number of each book as I complete it. I’m not being very systematic. Once or twice I’ve had to turn a 5 or a 3 into an 8 to eliminate accidental duplicates. I should have a spreadsheet or something but I like everything being on paper for this project, which is already so papery.
If you look at the photo carefully you can see all the dents on the card I’ve been scoring against. I like the dents.