Ways with words…

I thought I’d share a few things that I have come across lately in the world of book arts, words, text art, language, linguistics, obsession, ritual, archiving and documentation…my usual creative loves that I seem to hunt out and are part of my every day life. The first is Candy Chang‘s installation entitled ‘Confessions’ the outcome of an Artist-in-Residence programme at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas (USA) organized by The Cosmopolitan and Art Production Fund. Candy lived in the The Cosmopolitan for a month, turning its P3 Studio gallery into a place for people to honestly and anonymously share their confessions from July to August 2012. Inspired by Post Secret, Shinto shrine prayer walls and Catholicism, people could write and submit their confessions on wooden plaques in the privacy of confession booths without having to feel vulnerable to the outside world. Candy hung the anonymous plaques on the gallery walls and painted select responses on large canvases. The space also featured original, contemplative music by Oliver Blank which can be listened to it here. By the end of the exhibit, over 1500 confessions were displayed on the walls where over half were about sex, love, or fears of dying alone.

“By collecting the confessions of the hotel’s visitors, this project seeks to create a cathartic sanctuary for this temporary community and help us see we are not alone in our quirks, experiences, and struggles as we try to lead fulfilling lives.” – Candy Chang

Some of the comments are so honest, almost too honest, but that’s the point…to cause a gut reaction. I feel that others comments will have caused a ricochet effect in pushing others forward to make statements. There are a few confessions I’d like to make right now to myself and to a couple of people close to me…but that will never happen…or will it? Everyone has a few confessions they’d like to make, right? Candy‘s practice is inspired by an interest in public spaces and personal well-being and I would really take the time to look at some of her other projects too such as ‘Before I Die’ and ‘Career Path’. Her practice really struck a chord with me as to how more contemporary art should be…self-questioning, doubtful, personal yet publicly engaging in the global domain.

Next is an image I came across through Hovercraftdoggy, a great creative blog that I follow. It is taken by Laureano Moreno and there is literally no information about this but it captured my attention…the letters and words floating on the page, questioning their permanence and existence. Are the words to be said? Are they supposed to be decipher into coherent messages? Are they a reality, dreams or lies? Their textual chaos is actually calming to me and feels like what my head is like sometimes.

Image courtesy of Laureano Moreno

Third up is the recently published ’56 Broken Kindle Screens’ (2012), a collaborative project by Sebastian Schmieg and Silvio Lorusso that consists of found photos depicting broken Kindle screens. I’ve said before about my love-hate of digital books as I’m far too in love with the real thing, with print, the smell of fresh print and the weight of the paper in your hands. This book’s starting point is the aesthetic of broken E-Ink displays.

“It serves as an examination into the reading device’s materiality. As the screens break, they become collages composed of different pages, cover illustrations and interface elements.” – Schmieg and Lorusso

I love the simplicity of the idea behind this book, ordering my copy straight away for £2.99 (a steal) so it’s there at home in the UK for me when I get back in October. To me, this is a visual representation of the unpredictability of digital technologies, how we can’t and shouldn’t rely on them (even though we all do in some capacity) and how there is beauty in error and failure.

The final find was actually suggested on the phone last night by my good friend and Jewellery artist Lisa Juen…they are the book works of Cornelia Konrads.  Her “Book Objects”, as she calls them, are a way of understanding her artistic biography, her study of philosophy, German language, literature, and cultural studies. They are “an exorcistic act…to awaken the creative forces of the unconscious, the dream-like and surreal, the faculties of intransigent and dissident thought” using the character and “power of language as an instrument of control, whose logic inscribes itself in the bodies and minds of those controlled by it.” With her “Book Objects” Konrads does away with the semantic character of the control structures that produce meaning. By changing the physicality of the book, she also questions the systems of language.

‘Buch Lethe’ by Cornelia Konrads, 2005, book, paper, nylon thread, 40 x 28 x 15 cm
‘Brandbuch V’ by Cornelia Konrads, 2008, book, paper, 19 x 26 x 4 cm
‘Tränenbuch’ by Cornelia Konrads, 2005, book, paper, ink, nylon thread, salt, 21 x 28 x 4 cm
‘Blindbuch’ by Cornelia Konrads, 2002, book, paper, rose thorns, 17 x 25 x 3cm

There is a brutal sense of honesty, of the personal, of the interior mind in some of these works, which I think is often the case with book and text art as a creative realm. Words and books, as I know well, present and visualise an opportunity to say things that you perhaps wouldn’t verbalise, making certain situations, happenings or thoughts a reality that you then have to formally confront. It is almost easier to produce text or an image than to open your mouth and say the letters, words, sentences…a structured response of something that can be so emotionally charged…and if wanted, life-changing. Verbalising, again, makes this even more real as you can hear yourself…hear the words let alone just reading them on a page, wall or surface in front of you. Words will always be a big part of my world for so many different reasons…one main one being that they act as a form of self-clarification and realisation whilst having the ability to touch, educate and inform others…you never know who you might reach by putting your words out there.


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