Encountering Text–from meaning to abstraction

‘How to Live Now’ 60″x 18″ x 4, computer generated

With a background of broadcasting and non-fiction writing, I have always been close to works and text. An observation from a fellow artist that my ‘Extended Fields’ work had the feeling of ‘script’ encouraged me to investigate the uses of test of contemporary visual art.

My first project (above) came from from an interest in common phrases particularly those ‘commands’ that we receive as children, certainly in western but also in many other cultures . These orders are usually verbal and although in many cases a necessary part of socialization, are usually received and perceived only as restrictions on our youthful energy.

Intended to contain our energy , their usual effect is to frustrate our desires. And yet, their discipline helps us to survive, even grow.

As we move to and through adulthood these familiar phrases can resonate very differently offering the possibility of enlarging rather than diminishing our lives.

To explore how the same words can radically change their meaning, I have repeated each of these phrases–computer generated to suggest the mechanical impersonal quality of their early iterations– filling four separate long scrolls of paper. The size of type remains constant but the slow gradation of tone suggests these once inhibiting prescriptive phrases can be experienced as moving with us through different phases —from the command to do as we are told to the suggestion of an opportunity to pause, rest and reflect. A once external demand can become an internalized choice.

6-letter mix from banners
collage, 18×48

After completing the banners, I cut up the original letters horizontally and vertically reconfiguring them as pure design (above). I then made smaller and smaller selections moving gradually away from meaning towards the impact of the letter forms themselves.  The images below are a (partial) record of ongoing attempts to see how far I can push content towards pure form. 

7-letter mix from banners -1IMG_0438

Letter Mix 1- 24″x18″acrylic on board

letter mix from banner's 2
Letter Mix 2, 30″x 24 acrylic on board

letter mix- 26 images plus one
26 plus 1

Letter Mix 4- Alphabet, 8″x8″ each (above  3 of 27 total) acrylic on board

letter mix - new language

Letter Mix 5- 30″x 22″, graphite on paper

This is a selection from my present experiments with text. I am planning to complete this body of work for my upcoming exhibition July 2021 at Errant Art Space, Victoria BC