Con.Text: a lying text, cut and pasted for its own cause

A (long) Ramble of Research

Lately I have been thinking a lot about text based art. I see myself writing more and more, and I have attempting to place these scribbles (all neatly typed, mind you) into my art work,  exploring the use of text as a communication and/or obstruction of communication.

This is something I started to explore in the ‘Rapture’ a short film I made exploring several different versions of Little Red Riding Hood. I used text within the piece, in order to contradict it with image. The discord felt more true to real life… you don’t always say what you mean, and what two people said to each other, is rarely what they meant.

The sum of language is never really a sum of parts, but an editing, a re-writing, a discourse, that is greater than the sum. Editing is vastly important. What was really said, really communicated, can never be truly re-communicated.

The variations of truth is something I love in film- Le Derniere L’annee a Marienbad .It has rightfully been pointed out to me to be truly pretentious film, but is nevertheless one I love, for the contradictions of the memories of a couple who have a history at Marienbad. As an audience we are never told one singular truth, but rather that the two memories co-exist in time. There is no right, no wrong.

I’m interested in exploring those discrepancies- text vs image, see vs say, say vs write, write vs speak and we’ll see what comes out..

In the meanwhile I’ve been exploring other text based artists. Laying the foundations/ spreading the tarps on the floor, so to speak, and I thought I’d share some of my favourites.

I have always loved Raymond Pettibon, and he was one the first that inspired me to put writing into my drawings, but since then, I’ve become more interested in Type- as in typed words. There is something less personal, about type, and it tends to lend itself more to cutting and pasting: editing. And for those who know me well, you know how I love my scissors.

Fiona Banner has always been someone who I have liked. She’s done handwriting (her art porn canvases are huge canvases with her scribbled trashy romances all over them), which were in the a show at The Tate in London (http://www.tate.org.uk/britain/exhibitions/artnow/fionabanner/default.shtm) the first time I saw her work, with giant bronze sculptures of full stops. These I really love though…

The Tate now have a whole text, language and art room, clippets of which can be seen here

http://www.tateetc.net/collection/artistrooms/theme.do?id=1000003

which oddly misses some important ones, including any mention of Barbara Kruger

Who is included in this book, which I am in the process of ordering. Its called, simply, Art and Text . It deals with both since Dada. In a slide show of its contents  online, I saw these by Mel Bochner.

He also does pieces with handwritten text which bring David Shrigley to mind (if nothing else by their similar sense of humour). See here for more Shrigley: http://www.davidshrigley.com

I also like less Prominent artists, one of which I just discovered the other day at the Bergamot Galleries  in Santa Monica. There is a small show of an Artist called Chad Attie, within which he has violently reworked  fairytale books.

Not sure much cut and paste, as rip away, but still a transformation of a set narrative.

Similary W.H. Mallock paints over books to create his narrative within them

Anyway… if you’re curious there’s more about the book  Art and Text (and a slide show)
online here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/gallery/2009/aug/04/words-book-text-art?picture=351205323

By paper cut Artist Rob Ryan, online at Etsy here:

http://www.etsy.com/shop/misterrob

About CT

Claire Townsend is a freelance costume designer/maker and theatre practitioner.
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