More thoughts on Assignment Five

No words can express

No words can express

The pictures are real, they were there and made present for this assignment. The texts have been collected from my personal archives for this purpose and therefore this set of images are constructed as new fictive testaments and hopefully nice ones at that. I want to add some words about words.

That words are fickle, malleable and transcendent, there can of course be no doubt; however it is perhaps more usual by words that we have bound ourselves to people and places in our lives. The first word, the last word. The contract, the binding. The metaphor, the allusion. These are all cast by the intentional construct of letters. English is one of the densest of languages, with perhaps more words in its alphabet than most if not all other tongues. The depth of spelt lettering comes with it a burden of representation that is, prima facie, the responsibility of the author. The author launches the text in the general or specific direction of travel for the narrative benefit of the reader, for there can be no other reason for writing other than to be read, and in doing so removes the tie to it’s origin. Barthes and others have discussed the ‘Death of the Author’, that a work is cast adrift despite, or perhaps because of, the best intents of the author. The written text becomes interpreted; it can never be precisely what the author intended, for readers thereafter come bounded by their own bane of experience.

Whatever these found words once were, I have of course on reflection reinterpreted; what were specific motives have become other, sometimes less so than before some now more so. These words (that I have archived for their treasurous value) are attached to a point in time, most are in manuscript form – in pencil or ink, in ball point or nib – and they each have resonances because of that, they are inexorable connected to the person who constructed them and at the time of their creation. Transcribing these texts, those letters into a ‘font’ de-contextualizes them immediately, they become something else at once. And so these words which I have entered into a frame that also contains an image, become re-contextualized; the reader is presented with a conundrum that is devised by their own sense of self, not specifically any of my own divination. The words are set-free and, when encountered in a frame with an image, come to illuminate that image in a wholly new and fictive way.

The images though have had a different course to emerge on the page. They are, by most analyses, the product of the past. The framing of these photographs, these personal reflections to an instant in time mediated by the intrusion of light, is a construct of personal history, my history. The images are me, they are self-portraits informed by, amongst many other things, the letters that accompany them. The assembling of image and text that can only have been coupled by the sense of ‘I’ that constructs the frame. The images are more about me than the words perhaps?


2 thoughts on “More thoughts on Assignment Five

  1. John, I am posting a comment here mostly, perhaps, to acknowledge to you that I’ve been following the development of this assignment with interest. I think you and I spoke some weeks back when you were pondering how you would approach making images that you enjoyed (having been encouraged to do so). It’s been pleasing to see this intensely personal project develop – well done. That it is ‘intensely personal’ is one of the strongest impressions that I get from the work – and such a reaction makes comment difficult (for me) because I either feel reluctant to impose on the personal space that is the work or I find myself turning it into a guessing game, which has the potential to trivialise it. I think I’m also waiting (with interest) to see the way in which this comes together. I watch you gather images and relate them to text – but what will be your final edit? How will they be ordered? How will they be presented?

    • Thanks Stan, I am nearing the end of this assignment – I took some time out today to visit a few exhibitions in London with one of the aims to look at presentation. I think my tutor will be glad when it’s all over as well 😉

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