Monday, August 18, 2008

TXT MSG Podcast

Prior to the opening of TXT MSG, Mark Cameron Boyd and I recorded a podcast with Twig Murray who (essentially*) runs the space. For those interested in taking a listen, this is the URL and link to the podcast:

To address on a couple of things that may shock or surprise people:
I imply that the body of work came about while playing Scrabbulous - the online version of Scrabble that was recently shut down. Specifically, the series related to currency came about from playing Scrabbulous, not the whole body of work (Four Letter Words). The whole body of work came about in part due to...

...the "atrocious" writing of my students. I actually say something to this affect in the podcast; it is a gross generalization intended for a punchline, and as all instructors in post secondary education are aware, a stereotype that exists for a reason: student writing is generally bad. In truth, a lot of writing is generally bad. There are people who get paid to write (copy editors, journalists, etc.) and their writing is filled with mixed modifiers, disagreeing subjects and verbs, disagreeing tenses, and so forth. Most classes I teach are visual classes, yet I spend more time reviewing written work in an effort to curb some of the pitfalls of student writing.

For instance, there are actually high school teachers who claim that "they" and "them" are appropriate pronouns for SINGULAR subjects. (Go back and re-read that with the voice of Lewis Black.) Their students matriculate with the expectation that this is universally understood. For this I have a joke, "What's black and white and red all over?"

I have had some talented writers pass through my courses, as well as many cogent written communicators. However, the scales weigh heavily toward those who have less talent expressing themselves with pen or keyboard. Every professor I know talks about bad student writing. Every professor I know has a story about bad papers, and we talk about them in an effort to out-do the other professor in his/her tale of woe. We console and support each other about the poor writing of students, as though we were members of a 12 step program. Coffee and hugs only adds to the atmosphere.

There are things I didn't talk about in the podcast. Frankly, there is no need to mention Ed Ruscha, Robert Indiana, Joseph Kosuth, or John Baldessari, but these are artists with whom people might quickly associate the work. I have mild interest in each artist. But to associate this work with the work of those artists, simply because they used text and writing, is flawed. No doubt, though, their work gives future artists the permission to use the word as a subject, as a still life, and as a figure.

I was once a graphic designer... but now I am found. I have a love of words and a love of language. I find the cornucopia of font families intriguing. But, I have a strong distaste for working with clients.

After working on this series I began to feel like a scribe. There is a certain amount of patience and diligence that is necessary when making this work. There were times I found myself meditating on each letter (no televisions were harmed in the making of this project). I began to think of those monks who labored over transcriptions of the Bible in the centuries predating Guttenberg's printing press.

*Admittedly I don't recall Twig's title. But, if you want to propose a show at the Athenaeum, she is the person to contact.

No comments: