Here’s a wax drawing that uses everything – the spaces between words, the words themselves and the spaces between lines. The text is a fragment from the essay “The Visitation” by Jean-Luc Nancy (The Ground of the Image). Nancy discusses the theory of western religious painting as representation of Christian thought, but also talks about its place within a wider context of the image as art – beyond content, beyond memorialization. I am fascinated by his statement:
“Art never commemorates. It is not made to preserve a memory, and whenever it is set to work in a monument, it does not belong to the memorializing aspect of the work.”
I have the honour of working with a video artist, Cindy Mochizuki on a project that explores and expands upon my text-based drawing/inscribing project Withdrawn: scribing Nancy . We are taking the project into an entirely new direction for me, video. I think of this direction, this process, these video objects as ones which engage the viewer in a multi-sensorial experience of space: the projector, the screen, the expanse of floor and wall, the dark, and then the light that fills the space between these objects, the sounds, the flickering images and the simultaneous distension and restraint of time, combine to push the viewer over the threshold and into the space of the image:
” The image throws in my face an intimacy that reaches me in the midst of intimacy – through sight, through hearing, through the very meaning of words…the seduction of images, their eroticisim, is nothing other than their availability for being taken, touched by the eyes, the hands, the belly, or by reason and penetrated. The gaze impregnated with color, the ear with sonority.”
(Video stills by Cindy Mochizuki)
Continuing the exploration of spaces between words, I wondered how the spaces changed when the text was hand-written rather than typed. There is a precise rhythm to the spacing in typed words, of course, the text is even in size and the shapes vary not at all. Written work, on the other hand, offers much more space for variation, both intented and accidental via the process of ‘manuscipting’.
In this drawing, I wrote the text in wax, then added the blobs of wax to indicate the spaces between the words. The resulting rhythm of blobs brings to mind a kind of weird musical notation.
While working on the rose scribing, the text was, to a very large extent, the focus of the work. I’d often break words apart, or run them together. Recently, I started to think more about how the text (any text) makes sense to the reader, how our accepted forms and modes of organization allow us to read the letters as words. The idea came while reading Jose Saramago’s The Elephant’s Tale. Saramago uses very little punctuation and capitalization, so that it is often difficult to know right off who is doing the speaking. Sentences run into each other and names are in small letters. Where do thoughts begin? Where do they end? Who is speaking? Saramago makes the reader work at the reading. But at the same time, the flow and space that Saramago creates is similar to how we speak. So, the question for these drawings was, “What would a text look like if there were no text, but only the spaces?”
The drawing is done in beeswax with a traditional egg-painting tool. The blue is powdered pastel, rubbed on and then wiped off.
I spent some time in Montreal recently, with my son. His interests lay in craniofacial reconstruction, so anything with a face or a skull captures his attention. I messed around with skull images, in drawing and some painting. The drawings use text to create the form of a skull. The metal parts in the images are titanium bits used in reconstructive surgery and the text itself is from a surgical treatise which I pulled from my son’s pile of books.
Here’s a compilation of 6 days worth of rose skid drawings – each section is made up of all the petals of one rose.
My previous blog site, Withdrawn:scribing Nancy, has its own trajectory. This site, on the other hand, explores and expands on things and ideas that have grown out of (and along side) the scribing project.
While working on the rose scribing, I was searching for other ways of marking the process, of marking time – (the daily journal, the quotidian ritual). One of these experiments led to the use of the petals as a painting/drawing medium – the rose skids. Reddish purple stains made by crushing and smudging a petal into the paper.
Some petals – unusual ones, I expanded on by adding more drawing with graphite and blue and red powdered pastel.