“Linefield” is a group show in NYC Curated by Tony Evans.
My work in the show is the result of playing with cut vinyl letterforms/graphemes. All pieces are made from material that were destined for the trash.
Roughly put a grapheme is the smallest unit of a written language(a letter, a punctuation mark.) Graphemes are made of glyphs, again roughly speaking, the strokes that create the forms.
Western letter forms are an extreme abstraction not beholden to pictures, figure without ground. The graphemes hold multiple meanings in linguistic, phonetic, and aesthetic contexts(“A” as unit of language[grapheme], auditory phenomenon[phonetic pronunciation], and whole concept[word]; this showcases the contextual complexity and mental acuity involved in processing such a system of communication.) My main focus in this first series is the manipulation of the letter form(s).
How far can a portion of a letter form be removed from the parent letter before it becomes merely an abstract shape? There are portions of letter forms that are instantly recognizable even when removed from a textual plane(the curves of an “S” or the interior architecture of an uppercase “G”); there are words and meanings that can be created or destroyed by the removal of a simple glyph(the word “Far” becomes “Ear” or “Tar”, the addition/repositioning of a crossbar changes meaning, pronunciation, and appearance the same way a comma used instead of a period can change the meaning and rhythm of a sentence or idea.)
By recombining/remixing the positive and negative spaces and shapes of these graphemes is it possible to create text fields that are alien yet strangely familiar? This process is informed by the Gysin/Burroughs “cut up” technique but takes it further. No longer mixing word forms to create new narratives but mixing letter forms to create new languages. Are there concepts swimming in the ether awaiting new letter forms with which to express themselves?
Weaponizing/disarming letters/language. Rammellzee understood the weight of language on our lives and was a major force in reintroducing the scribe to the modern day urban landscape in the form of the graffiti artist. Scientology uses lists of words to ferret out traumas a person may subconsciously associate with them in an attempt to ‘clear’ a persons mental state. The Japanese samurai was the servant of a lord and this gave way to bureaucrat status…the pen became mightier than the sword(even two swords.) The sword stroke, the brush/pen stroke; one can decapitate a man, the other can decapitate an army. Before widespread adoption of systematized writing knowing a persons full name was akin to a magic power, almost as good as having the person in front of you. Language has long been used by ruling classes and guilds to delineate the differences between social/class/professional groups.
Language is power. Words are building blocks. Graphemes and glyphs then may be seen as the atoms of which this system is comprised. We combine and recombine them to construct worlds of our choosing. But control, I believe, is a two way street. In my opinion trying to exert too much control is akin to using a hammer. Language seems to use the water method. Surround, seep into, osmote, overstand, absorb.