I haven’t been very diligent in posting updates on the progress of my big project on bees, (entitled “not by chance alone”) for the most part because it is difficult to share the endless bouts of self-doubt, but also because the documentation that I have been doing (consistently) has produced iffy photos often taken under poor lighting conditions. Stitching together images of varying exposures is tedious.
.A couple of months ago, I decided that I really needed to lay the entire project out to see how the parts fit together and to give me a better idea how to proceed towards completion. It would be the first time I would see the entire project together.
My friend, the artist Elizabeth MacKenzie, helped me with the huge undertaking of putting together the 300 or so puzzle-like sheets that I had completed. I got permission to use the gym at my partner’s school (the administration and staff were very kind to allow me the freedom to do this). Sitting on the bleachers and working from a master diagram, Elizabeth would yell out the number and letter code of each sheet and give me directions where to lay a particular section. Here’s s shot of the “installation’ – it really does help to show the scale of the work.
Elizabeth was also the official photographer for this session, so I am very grateful to her for the images, her GPS and puzzle-making skills (:-) and the wealth of knowledge and experience in art-making which she so generously shares with me!
We still weren’t able to get the complete piece in one shot without massive distortion, so here are sections of the work: this one is the left side.
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.