"I am trying to check my habits of seeing, to counter them for the sake of greater freshness. I am trying to be unfamiliar with what I'm doing." - John Cage

Friday, May 22, 2015

Possibilities in Collaboration of Words and Visual Art

"Seeing comes before words" - John Berger

“Visual artists must use words to accompany their work in the form of bios, statements and titles, not to mention presentations.  And those words are deceptively important to the success or failure of their works” – Jennifer Garza-Cuen


"Book in the Sky" by Xu Bing:

"A writer continually struggles for clarity against the language he’s using or, more accurately, against the common usage of that language. He doesn’t see language with the readability and clarity of something printed out. He sees it, rather as a terrain full of illegibilities, hidden paths, impasses, surprises, and obscurities." – John Berger

"I know of no other visual Western artist who has created an oeuvre that visualizes with living colors the silent space that exists between and around words. Cy Twombly is the painterly master of verbal silence." – John Berger 2002

"Ligon is a conceptual artist who is known for his large-scale paintings.  In his series How it Feels to Be Colored Me, he uses texts about his identity as an African-American man laying them on top of one another until they blurred into ambiguity." - Risdworkworks.wordpress.com

 Claudia Rankine used this image in her most recent book Citizen as part of her discussion of race:

"Tracey Emin is known for her notoriously candid drawings revealing some of her deepest personal reflections on her relationships.  Often graphically sexual, her work is filled with witty autobiographical comments. Additionally, Emin has completed a series of neon phrases; some lengthly and thoughtful while others delve into intimacy in just a few words." - Risdwordworks.wordpress.com

"Extended Captions" are works that combine prose and image:
In that place there is for knowing he knew he was not yet a man, but he didn’t feel it. He could recite enough life for twenty lifetimes and he knew where the exits were in the dark. Every Wednesday at 7pm she came. And every Wednesday at 7:05 she bought a small popcorn and a large soda. It didn’t matter that she looked right through him. It didn’t matter that she didn’t notice him noticing.  It just didn’t matter.  In that place there is for knowing he knew it was just a matter of time. And he was patient.
Jennifer Garza-Cuen –  MFA  Photo 2011
Modern ekphrastic poems have generally shrugged off antiquity’s obsession with elaborate description, and instead have tried to interpret, inhabit, confront, and speak to their subjects.

The Great Figure

Among the rain
and lights
I saw the figure 5
in gold
on a red
fire truck
to gong clangs
siren howls
and wheels rumbling
through the dark city

William Carlos Williams

To challenge yourself to respond to art, see Rattle's monthly ekphrastic challenge: http://www.rattle.com/poetry/extras/ekphrasis/

Letterpress Broadsides:

A fascinating study is how Emily Dickinson possibly used the medium of paper as a shaper of form for her poems:

I learned so much about my own poem by collaborating with Andy Cline of Roundwood Furniture in King's Beach: 

My writing process has taken advantage of drawing to explore deeper into a poem in progress:

I've also used paper itself as a medium to move words, lines, and language around into varying juxtapositions in my revision process:


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