Poetics and Place The Architecture of Sign, Subjects and Site


270 44 14MB

English Pages 245 Year 2014

Report DMCA / Copyright

DOWNLOAD PDF FILE

Recommend Papers

Poetics and Place The Architecture of Sign, Subjects and Site

  • 0 0 0
  • Like this paper and download? You can publish your own PDF file online for free in a few minutes! Sign Up
File loading please wait...
Citation preview

List of Illustrations Fig. 1.1 Fig. 1.2 Fig. 1.3



Fig. 1.4



Fig. 1.5



Fig. 1.6



Fig. 1.7



Fig. 1.8

Technical description of objects in Things Which Happen Again from Roni Horn, Things Which Happen Again, catalogue (Mönchengladbach and Münster: Städtisches Museum Abteiberg and Westfälischer Kunstverein, 1991). Generation of truncated cone with one slightly convex surface: Kristen Kreider, drawing (2006). Floor plan for Pair Object III: For Two Rooms from Roni Horn, Things Which Happen Again, catalogue (Mönchengladbach and Münster: Städtisches Museum Abteiberg and Westfälischer Kunstverein, 1991). Pair Object III: For Two Rooms with geometry of relation between viewer and objects in first and second room: Kristen Kreider, drawing (2006) incorporating Roni Horn, floor plan from Things Which Happen Again, catalogue (Mönchengladbach and Münster: Städtisches Museum Abteiberg and Westfälischer Kunstverein, 1991). View of object in first room of Pair Object III: For Two Rooms from initial point of vantage of first room from Roni Horn, Things Which Happen Again, catalogue (Mönchengladbach and Münster: Städtisches Museum Abteiberg and Westfälischer Kunstverein, 1991). View moving toward the object in first room of Pair Object III: For Two Rooms from Roni Horn, Things Which Happen Again, catalogue (Mönchengladbach and Münster: Städtisches Museum Abteiberg and Westfälischer Kunstverein, 1991). View moving around the object in first room of Pair Object III: For Two Rooms from Roni Horn, Things Which Happen Again, catalogue (Mönchengladbach and Münster: Städtisches Museum Abteiberg and Westfälischer Kunstverein, 1991). View of object in second room of Pair Object III: For Two Rooms from initial point of vantage of second room from Roni Horn, Things Which Happen Again, catalogue (Mönchengladbach and Münster: Städtisches Museum Abteiberg and Westfälischer Kunstverein, 1991).

vii

40 41

44

46

47

48

49

54



viii

p o e tics a n d p lac e



Fig. 1.9



Fig. 1.10



Fig. 1.11



Fig. 2.1



Fig. 2.2



Fig. 2.3



Fig. 2.4



Fig. 2.5



Fig. 2.6



Fig. 2.7



Fig. 2.8



Fig. 2.9

View moving toward object in second room of Pair Object III: For Two Rooms from Roni Horn, Things Which Happen Again, catalogue (Mönchengladbach and Münster: Städtisches Museum Abteiberg and Westfälischer Kunstverein, 1991). View moving around object in second room of Pair Object III: For Two Rooms from Roni Horn, Things Which Happen Again, catalogue (Mönchengladbach and Münster: Städtisches Museum Abteiberg and Westfälischer Kunstverein, 1991). Pair Object III: For Two Rooms with viewer’s dash between two rooms, enacted symbolic-trajectory around object in second room and memory of enacted symbolic-trajectory around object in first room: Kristen Kreider, drawing (2006) incorporating Roni Horn, floor plan from Things Which Happen Again, catalogue (Mönchengladbach and Münster: Städtisches Museum Abteiberg and Westfälischer Kunstverein, 1991). Diagram of Dickinson’s writing process from R.W. Franklin, ed., The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Variorum Edition, 3 vols (Cambridge, MA, Belknap-Harvard University Press, 1998) 19. Emily Dickinson, ‘A Woe of Ecstasy’, poetic fragment of ‘A sloop of amber slips away’ (Ms. A112, recto) from Emily Dickinson Archive (Amherst College, Amherst, MA). Emily Dickinson, ‘A Woe of Ecstasy’, poetic fragment of ‘A sloop of amber slips away’ (Ms. A112, verso) from Emily Dickinson Archive (Amherst College, Amherst, MA). The word ‘Ecstasy’ cropped from Emily Dickinson, ‘A Woe of Ecstasy’ (Ms. A112, verso) from Emily Dickinson Archive (Amherst College, Amherst, MA). Emily Dickinson, ‘The clock strikes one’ and ‘A sloop of amber slips away’ (Ms. A385/386, recto) from Emily Dickinson Archive (Amherst College, Amherst, MA). Emily Dickinson, ‘A sloop of amber slips away’ (Ms. A836, recto) from Emily Dickinson Archive (Amherst College, Amherst, MA). Emily Dickinson, ‘A sloop of amber slips away’, transcribed by Mabel Loomis Todd (Ms. A836a, recto) from Emily Dickinson Archive (Amherst College, Amherst, MA). Emily Dickinson, ‘The vastest earthly Day’ (Ms. A449, recto) from Emily Dickinson Archive (Amherst College, Amherst, MA). Image fit to page. Emily Dickinson, ‘The vastest earthly Day’ (Ms. A449, verso) from Emily Dickinson Archive (Amherst College, Amherst, MA). Image fit to page.

55

56

61

65

71

71

72

75

76

82

83

83

list o f ill u st r ati o n s



Fig. 2.10



Fig. 2.11



Fig. 2.12



Fig. 2.13

Fig. 2.14 Fig. 2.15 Fig. 2.16 Fig. 2.17 Fig. 2.18 Fig. 2.19 Fig. 2.20

Emily Dickinson, ‘The vastest earthly Day’ from Thomas H. Johnson, ed., The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson (New York: Little Brown and Co., 1961) 576. Reprinted by permission of the publishers and the Trustees of Amherst College from The Poems of Emily Dickinson, Thomas H. Johnson, ed., Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Copyright ©1951, 1955, 1979, 1983 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Emily Dickinson, ‘The vastest earthly Day’ from R.W. Franklin, ed., The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Variorum Edition (Cambridge, MA: Belknap-Harvard University Press, 1998) 1147. Reprinted by permission of the publishers and the Trustees of Amherst College from The Poems of Emily Dickinson, Ralph W. Franklin, ed., Cambridge, MA.: The Belknap Press of Harvard College. Copyright © 1951, 1955, 1979, 1983 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Emily Dickinson, ‘The lassitudes of contemplation’ (Ms. A403, recto) from Emily Dickinson Archive (Amherst College, Amherst, MA). Folding model of Emily Dickinson, ‘The lassitudes of contemplation’ (Ms. A403, verso) from Emily Dickinson Archive (Amherst College, Amherst, MA). Folding model of Emily Dickinson, ‘The lassitudes of contemplation’ (Ms. A403) from Emily Dickinson Archive (Amherst College, Amherst, MA). Folding model of Emily Dickinson, ‘The lassitudes of contemplation’ (Ms. A403) from Emily Dickinson Archive (Amherst College, Amherst, MA). Folding model of Emily Dickinson, ‘The lassitudes of contemplation’ (Ms. A403) from Emily Dickinson Archive (Amherst College, Amherst, MA). Folding model of Emily Dickinson, ‘The lassitudes of contemplation’ (Ms. A403) from Emily Dickinson Archive (Amherst College, Amherst, MA). Folding model of Emily Dickinson, ‘The lassitudes of contemplation’ (Ms. A403) from Emily Dickinson Archive (Amherst College, Amherst, MA). Folding model of Emily Dickinson, ‘The lassitudes of contemplation’ (Ms. A403) from Emily Dickinson Archive (Amherst College, Amherst, MA). Emily Dickinson, ‘These are the nights that beetles love’ (Ms. A466a, recto) from Emily Dickinson Archive (Amherst College, Amherst, MA).

85

87

89

89

91

91

91

91

91

92

92

ix





p o e tics a n d p lac e



Fig. 2.21



Fig. 2.22



Fig. 2.23



Fig. 2.24



Fig. 2.25



Fig. 2.26



Fig. 2.27



Fig. 3.1



Fig. 3.2



Fig. 3.3

Emily Dickinson, ‘These are the nights that beetles love’ (Ms. A466a, verso) from Emily Dickinson Archive (Amherst College, Amherst, MA). ‘Scrawling’ from Emily Dickinson’s ‘These are the nights that beetles love’ (Ms. A466, recto) from Emily Dickinson Archive (Amherst College, Amherst, MA). ‘In progress’ from Emily Dickinson’s ‘These are the nights that beetles love’ (Ms. A466, recto) from Emily Dickinson Archive (Amherst College, Amherst, MA). Seeping stain from Emily Dickinson’s ‘These are the nights that beetles love’ (Ms. A466, recto) from Emily Dickinson Archive (Amherst College, Amherst, MA). Seeping stain from Emily Dickinson’s ‘These are the nights that beetles love’ (Ms. A466, verso) from Emily Dickinson Archive (Amherst College, Amherst, MA). Emily Dickinson, ‘’Twas later when the summer went’ (Ms. A499, recto) from Emily Dickinson Archive (Amherst College, Amherst, MA). Emily Dickinson, ‘’Twas later when the summer went’ (Ms. A499, verso) from Emily Dickinson Archive, Amherst College, Amherst, MA). Working drawing of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Passages Paysages (1978): Kristen Kreider, drawing (2006) incorporating Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, manuscript and video stills of Passages Paysages from Constance M. Lewallen and Sabine Breitwieser, eds, Der Traum des Publikums/The Dream of the Audience (Vienna: Generali Foundation, 2004) 198–201. ‘Passage’ 1: Kristen Kreider, image developed from working drawing of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Passages Paysages (2006) incorporating Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, manuscript and video stills of Passages Paysages from Constance M. Lewallen and Sabine Breitwieser, eds, Der Traum des Publikums/The Dream of the Audience (Vienna: Generali Foundation, 2004) 198–201. ‘Passage’ 2: Kristen Kreider, image developed from working drawing of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Passages Paysages (2006) incorporating Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, manuscript and video stills of Passages Paysages from Constance M. Lewallen and Sabine Breitwieser, eds, Der Traum des Publikums/The Dream of the Audience (Vienna: Generali Foundation, 2004) 198–201.

92

94

94

95

95

97

97

106

110

113

list o f ill u st r ati o n s



Fig. 3.4



Fig. 3.5



Fig. 3.6



Fig. 3.7



Fig. 4.1



Fig. 4.2



Fig. 4.3



Fig. 4.4



Fig. 4.5



Fig. 4.6



Fig. 4.7

‘Passage’ 3: Kristen Kreider, image developed from working drawing of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Passages Paysages (2006) incorporating Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, manuscript and video stills of Passages Paysages from Constance M. Lewallen and Sabine Breitwieser, eds, Der Traum des Publikums/The Dream of the Audience (Vienna: Generali Foundation, 2004) 198–201. ‘Passage’ 4: Kristen Kreider, image developed from working drawing of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Passages Paysages (2006) incorporating Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, manuscript and video stills of Passages Paysages from Constance M. Lewallen and Sabine Breitwieser, eds, Der Traum des Publikums/The Dream of the Audience (Vienna: Generali Foundation, 2004) 198–201. ‘Passage’ 5: Kristen Kreider, image developed from working drawing of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Passages Paysages (2006) incorporating Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, manuscript and video stills of Passages Paysages from Constance M. Lewallen and Sabine Breitwieser, eds, Der Traum des Publikums/The Dream of the Audience (Vienna: Generali Foundation, 2004) 198–201. ‘Passage’ 6: Kristen Kreider, image developed from working drawing of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Passages Paysages (2006) incorporating Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, manuscript and video stills of Passages Paysages from Constance M. Lewallen and Sabine Breitwieser, eds, Der Traum des Publikums/The Dream of the Audience (Vienna: Generali Foundation, 2004) 198–201. Cover from Fiona Templeton, Cells of Release (New York: Roof Books, 1997). Example of five lines grafted from Fiona Templeton’s Cells of Release (New York: Roof Books, 1997). Plan of Eastern State Penitentiary taken from Fiona Templeton, Cells of Release (New York: Roof Books, 1997). Plan of corridor in Eastern State Penitentiary from Fiona Templeton, Cells of Release (New York: Roof Books, 1997). View through corridor space from Fiona Templeton, Cells of Release (New York: Roof Books, 1997). Line woven into bedsprings taken from Fiona Templeton, Cells of Release (New York: Roof Books, 1997). Line draped across mirror from Fiona Templeton, Cells of Release (New York: Roof Books, 1997).

117

122

124

126 131 134 135 137 140 141 141

xi



xii

p o e tics a n d p lac e



Fig. 4.8



Fig. 4.9



Fig. 4.10



Fig. 5.1



Fig. 5.2

Line inclined toward darkness from Fiona Templeton, Cells of Release (New York: Roof Books, 1997). Line inclined toward light from Fiona Templeton, Cells of Release (New York: Roof Books, 1997). Drawing a line throughout Fiona Templeton, Cells of Release (New York: Roof Books, 1997). Jenny Holzer, Lustmord (Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin, 46, 1993) 22–3. Cover image of Lustmord from Jenny Holzer, Lustmord. (Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin, 46, 1993) 1.

142 143 149 165 189

Acknowledgements This book would not have been possible without the backing and support of a number of institutions and organisations, as well as the personal guidance and support of mentors, friends and loved ones. I would like to thank I.B.Tauris, for working with me to bring this book to publication. I am very honoured to be amongst the esteemed writers and academics that contribute to the important work being done on the Visual Culture list. I would also like to thank Royal Holloway for the time and financial support to complete my manuscript and especially Professor Anne Varty for fostering an excellent academic environment in which to develop as a researcher. I am very grateful to University College London (UCL) for the opportunity and means to undertake a PhD between the Bartlett School of Architecture and the Slade School of Fine Art, where this project first began. The willingness of UCL to support innovative research across disciplines meant that I was able to combine my interests in poetry, art and architecture across both creative and critical practice, which is the basis of Poetics and Place. In this respect I am eternally grateful to Professor Jane Rendell at the Bartlett School of Architecture and Dr Sharon Morris at the Slade School of Fine Art. I cannot imagine a more rigorous, inspiring, knowledgeable and generous supervisory team. Our hours spent in conversation as well as their careful and close readings of multiple drafts of my thesis were – and are – invaluable. I feel extremely privileged to have worked so closely with two such extraordinary minds. I am likewise very grateful to Professor Robert Hampson and Professor Marsha Meskimmon for their close and attenuated reading of the thesis and for the fruitful and generative discussion that ensued. xiii



xiv

p o e tics a n d p lac e

An early version of Chapter 2 was published in The Emily Dickinson Journal and I thank the editor, Christanne Miller, as well as my reader, Marta Werner, for their careful reading of the text and help to hone the material. I am also thankful to The Emily Dickinson Journal for allowing me to publish a version of this essay in this book. I thank the Emily Dickinson Archive at Amherst College in Massachusetts for allowing me access to Dickinson’s manuscripts, and also to thank the Archive as well as Harvard University Press for permission to print these manuscripts here. I thank the Generali Foundation for permission to work with images of Cha’s documentation of Passages Paysages. Similarly, I thank Roof Books for the permission to print images from Fiona Templeton’s Cells of Release. I thank Jenny Holzer for allowing me access to an original copy of Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin where her artwork Lustmord appears, and I thank the Jenny Holzer Studio for generating the images that have been used in this book, as well as for the permission to print them here. I draw continual support and inspiration from a community of creative and critical practitioners working within, for want of a better phrase, writing in an expanded field. So I acknowledge Maria Fusco, who is a continual source of amazement and whose work – writerly, editorial, pedagogic – can be seen as a model of innovative practice in the field. Professor Robert Hampson, whose work engages poetics and place in a rigorous dialogue on the contemporary page, and whose support of emerging and established experimental poets will have a long-lasting effect. Susan Johanknecht, whose exquisite book works are the embodiment of a material poetic practice and whose course, the MA in Book Arts at Camberwell, is a keystone in the field. Dr Sharon Kivland, an incredible presence, thinker and practitioner whose work seamlessly integrates theory, text, object, image, installation and performance in compelling and exciting ways that not only presently inspire, but have a lasting legacy. Brigid McLeer, artist and Director of Fine Art at Coventry, whose work with performance, text and the visual introduced me to new and exciting possibilities in their crossover long before I was equally able to draw inspiration from her personally. Dr Redell Olsen whose work crosses poetry and the visual in important, exciting and contemporary ways, and who I have the privilege of teaching with on her important and generative course,

ac k n o w l e d g e m e n ts

the MA Poetic Practice at Royal Holloway. Dr Will Montgomery, whose work with poetry and sound is rigorous, conceptually driven and materially-rich, compelling me to think about and experience a material poetics in a totally unique way. Fiona Templeton, whose meaningful and important work has become a chapter in this book, and who I am grateful to have worked with both in teaching workshops and making performances. Finally, I acknowledge all of the students at Royal Holloway, both past and present, with whom I have had the privilege of speaking and sharing ideas including, amongst many others, Prudence Chamberlain, Becky Cremin, Diana Damian, Nisha Ramayya, Sophie Robinson, Nik Wakefield and Eley Williams. Without the support of friends and loved ones, this book would never have happened. Many thanks go to Kate Ahl for her steadfast friendship, compassion and sense of humour throughout the entire process of developing this book. I also offer high praise for and gratitude to Kate for working through this manuscript with her sharp and insightful editorial eye. Many thanks to Alison Craighead and Jon Thomson for their kindness, generosity, good will and fun. Many thanks to Laura White for our wonderful conversations and cups of tea, and for speaking with me about all things personal and artistic. Many thanks to my teachers Cary Perkins and Adam Keen as well as to Ben, Jenny, Perdi, Susan, Suyen and Toby for being such a wonderful and supportive community. Endless thanks to my wonderful family: to Susan and Ed Alley, Nancy Gronning, Brittni Jackson, Kalea Jackson, Sean Jackson, David Kreider, Kathryn Kreider, all of whom I love very much. Thanks to Mama and Mischka: my fabulous feline companions throughout writing this book. And, of course, my very special thanks goes to James O’Leary: my husband, friend, collaborative partner, companion for life. With you everything is possible.

xv





Introduction Situating Poetics and Place: Context, Method and Theoretical Foundation

In ‘Silence and the Poet’ (1969), George Steiner describes the pathos of German writers following the Holocaust: ‘Because their language had served at Belsen, because words could be found for all those things and men were not struck dumb for using them, a number of writers who had gone into exile or survived Nazism despaired of their instrument’ (Steiner 73). Steiner continues: ‘this sense of death in language, of the failure of the word in the face of the inhuman, is by no means limited to German’ (Steiner 73). Citing numerous writers for whom ‘the living truth is no longer sayable’ and in whose heteroglossolalia he detects ‘the near-impossibility of effective verbal interchange’, Steiner posits that, indeed, all language is haunted by this atrocity (Steiner 74). So, for Steiner, there is silence. Silence and the poet. And yet it is imperative to speak. Amidst death, amidst the failure of words, it is crucial to have voices that attest to the brutality and suffering of others – more crucial that we, receiving them, are able to listen and respond. I am interested in the role that creative practice plays in this. More specifically, I am interested in how artworks that combine poetic, artistic and spatial aesthetic strategies are capable of communicating symbolically as well as through the signifying capacity of physical material in order to address situations and events that lie beyond comprehension, things that resist verbal representation alone. As the artworks in this book attest – more insistently as the chapters progress – language is haunted by a history of trauma. I have selected them on the basis that, through this, they continue to communicate. Within these artworks there is silence, but a silence that ‘speaks’ and solicits us to respond. How do the artworks ‘speak’, and how do we ‘listen’ and respond? This question underlies my investigation 





p o e tics a n d p lac e

of Roni Horn’s Pair Object III: For Two Rooms, Emily Dickinson’s later manuscripts, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Passages Paysages, Fiona Templeton’s Cells of Release and Jenny Holzer’s Lustmord. Each chapter in Poetics and Place is dedicated to one of these five artworks, and is arranged in order to fulfil three main objectives: to understand how the artworks generate meaning through a material poetics, and to what effect; to develop a critical methodology for engaging with them; and to investigate their political imperative and ethical potential. Throughout my engagement with the artworks I emphasise the meaningful quality of material substance as this manifests in the performance of a verbal message, be it spoken, written or otherwise enacted. This facilitates my development of a triadic relation between theoretical concepts of ‘sign’, ‘subjects’ and ‘site’ at the crossover between poetry, art and spatial practices. The first three chapters of Poetics and Place develop and relate the concepts of sign, subject and site specific to the artworks under consideration. Chapter 1 looks at an emergence of a sign, the indexical symbol understood in a material sense, through an enactment of Roni Horn’s Pair Object III: For Two Rooms. This serves as a basis for the sign and, by extrapolation, the subject in the artworks throughout Poetics and Place. Chapter 2, dedicated to Emily Dickinson’s later manuscripts, considers the page as a site for performing both creative and critical writing. This consideration allows me to account for the meanings generated by those elements typically deemed ‘external’ to scriptural space, such as the material quality of both sign and substrate. This consideration also ties into the development of a critical method appropriate for the artworks in Poetics and Place: a method I contextualise below. In Chapter 3, my engagement with Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Passages Paysages runs in tandem with a theoretical argument concerning ‘voice’, with its implications for subjectivity. I conceive subjectivity as an encounter between two speaking subjects ‘I’ and ‘you’ who, situated within the realm of appearance, are embodied, relational and marked by a fundamental opacity that eludes the capacity for narration, but not communication. This introduces a radical phenomenology into a theory of discursive subjectivity which implicates the political imperative for – and ethical potential behind – the artworks under discussion.

i n t r o d u cti o n

Chapters 4 and 5 draw out the ethical and political implications of the artworks under discussion. Engaging with Fiona Templeton’s Cells of Release and Jenny Holzer’s Lustmord, I argue that they each employ aesthetic strategies to speak on behalf of another or others; that is, on behalf of bodies that have lost their capacity to speak through trauma, violence and atrocity. My aim, ultimately, is to consider how aesthetic strategies such as those employed by these artworks can contribute to a socially-engaged approach to contemporary art and poetry. Following from this, the book’s conclusion opens up a debate concerning the role of empathy within contemporary, politically engaged practices in art and poetry. Poetics and Place at a Crossover between Poetry, Art and Spatial Practice My interest in the meaningful capacity of physical material is central to this project. This concern for a meaningful materiality is elsewhere evident in contemporary poetry and poetics, particularly developments stemming from the 1970s Language school of poetry, which has had an enormous influence on more recent linguistically innovative poetry in North America and the United Kingdom.1 Predominantly invested in a post-structuralist theoretical paradigm with its critique of the primacy of speech and the self-presence of a speaking subject, such poetry is often characterised by an abandonment of the lyric, long associated with the musicality of voice and the speaking subject ‘I’.2 Language and linguistically innovative poets tend to concentrate instead on formal linguistic exploration and visual poetic strategies in order to generate meaning through the materiality of the linguistic signifier – poststructuralism’s ‘free play’ of meaning.3 The artworks in Poetics and Place share with Language and linguistically innovative poetries a concern for, and manipulation of, meaningful materiality.4 However, I am less interested in how this manifests through a manipulation of the signifier and more concerned with how the material quality of the sign itself contributes to an artwork’s symbolic meaning. This particular focus leads me to reconceptualise the linguistic sign and, by extension, consider the implications of ‘voice’ for a theory of







p o e tics a n d p lac e

subjectivity. All of which suggests an underlying aim in this project, which is to reconsider lyric voice and ‘I’, laying claim to their ethical potential and political efficacy through the artworks discussed.5 My interest in how the qualities of material substance can contribute to symbolic meaning takes me from the domain of poetry into that of art: a juncture at which the pre-eminent literary theorist and poetic practitioner Johanna Drucker operates. Drucker’s work has been extremely influential in the scholarship of experimental poetry, poetics and artists’ books.6 Of note for my purposes is Drucker’s fulllength study The Visible Word: Experimental Typography and Modern Art, 1909–1923 (1994) where she looks at how the innovative uses of typography by Futurist and Dada artists blurred the line between visual art and literature.7 Emphasising that a concern with materiality is at the heart of experimental visual and poetic forms in these early modernist typographic practices, Drucker devises a theory and methodology for engaging with such work that is predicated on a model of materiality that she sees as capable of answering criticisms waged against semiotics by post-structuralism, on the one hand, and Marxism, on the other. Drucker’s model includes two major intertwined strands: that of a relational, insubstantial and non-transcendent difference and that of a phenomenological, apprehensible, immanent substance; the former addresses poststructuralism’s critique of semiotics’ metaphysics of self-presence and the latter answers Marxism’s call for an historical materialist approach to language.8 This model is well suited to Drucker’s subject matter, modernist typography, where the sonic and rhythmic properties of its linguistic play enmesh with the visual and material qualities of the text. In drawing attention to the meaningful quality of material substance in texts combining elements of poetry and visual art practice, Drucker’s work serves as an important touchstone for Poetics and Place. And while I share Drucker’s ambition to formulate an appropriate theory and methodological approach to such work, the model of materiality upon which Drucker subtends her approach is less appropriate for Poetics and Place. The selection of artworks I am engaging with necessitates, instead, a theory and methodology that can account for how their material qualities generate meaning in relation to, or in addition to, the sign (i.e. the artwork’s employment

i n t r o d u cti o n

of symbolic signification in its verbal message), rather than in tandem with a decoupling of the sign’s relation, in linguistic terms, between signifier and signified, as per Modernist typography. Another relevant and more recent critical project exploring a cross between visual and verbal creative practice comes from an art historical perspective.9 Liz Kotz’s Words to Be Looked At: Language in 1960s Art (2010) examines language as a primary element in visual art, tracing this back to works of visual art, poetry and experimental music created in and around New York City from 1958 to 1968. Two works in particular come under close analysis, John Cage’s ‘text score’ for 4 33 and Andy Warhol’s a: a novel, although Kotz also examines a number of other artists and poets including Vito Acconci, Carl Andre, George Brecht, Douglas Huebler, Joseph Kosuth, Jackson MacLow and Lawrence Weiner. Although not the focus of her argument, Kotz does claim in the course of her writing that a ‘new materiality’ begins to emerge in the crossing of experimental poetry and art, particularly with the emergence of new technologies in sound and videotape during that era.10 I, too, am interested in the materialities produced by such technologies, as is evident in my chapter on Cha; however, my focus here – as throughout Poetics and Place – is on interpreting rather than contextualising such phenomena. This difference in methodology implies, more generally, a difference in scope and political agenda. Kotz’s historical approach means that the selection of poets and artists she investigates are tied to a particular time and place in art history where she locates a crossover between experimental poetry and art. My own selection of artworks stems from my interest in a particular poetics arising at the crossover between not only poetry and art, but also spatial practice – regardless of historical period, medium or discipline. The key theorist for considering the role of spatial practice in the artworks that I am engaging with in Poetics and Place is Michel de Certeau. His assertion in The Practice of Everyday Life (1974) that ‘space is a practiced place’ contributes to the concepts of sign, subject and site that I develop in this study, as well as to an appreciation of the relationship between poetics and place that the artworks I look at exemplify. Important for understanding the critical potential of de Certeau’s theory in relation to these artworks is Art and Architecture: l

ll







p o e tics a n d p lac e

A Place Between (2006) where art and architectural theorist Jane Rendell draws from de Certeau’s notion of spatial practice to argue that ‘in “practising” specific places certain artworks produce critical spaces’ (Rendell, Art 19). Rendell’s understanding of what she calls ‘critical spatial practice’, situated between art and architecture, is important for my own consideration of the critical potential of artworks situated at a cross between poetry, art and spatial practice. Meanwhile, Rendell’s continuing assertion that ‘criticism itself can be considered a mode of critical spatial practice’ informs my development of a critical method for engaging with these artworks, as I discuss below (Rendell, Art 193). Bearing in mind my particular selection of artworks, all of which are by women, as well as my interests not just in materiality but, further, in spatiality, I turn to Women Making Art: History, Subjectivity, Aesthetics (2003) by the art historian and critic Marsha Meskimmon. Citing Drucker, amongst others, in a chapter entitled ‘The word and the flesh: text/image re-made’, Meskimmon challenges notions of textual transparency that, she argues, are linked to a legacy of Western philosophical dualism that pits mind against body (Meskimmon 151).11 Meskimmon sees this challenge met through the installation work of Anne Hamilton and Svetlana Kopystiansky, both of whom reconfigure the book in aesthetic configurations that ‘demonstrate both how text can matter, in the widest possible sense, and how the book can be thought more productively as a process, enabling different subjects to communicate without sacrificing their corporeal specificity’ (Meskimmon 154). Meskimmon’s argument is important, firstly, because she identifies artistic practices that manipulate the meaningful quality of textual matter with a feminist aesthetics and, secondly, because her emphasis on the book as a spatialised and relational process links this feminist aesthetics to a feminist ethics. Elsewhere, in ‘Practice as Thinking: Toward Feminist Aesthetics’ (2003), Meskimmon links the emphasis on materiality in feminist aesthetic strategies to feminist critical practice. The link between feminist aesthetics, criticality and ethics is especially pertinent to my discussion in the final chapter of this book, where I introduce Meskimmon’s argument in relation to my specific engagement with Jenny Holzer’s Lustmord.12 More generally, Meskimmon’s tackling

i n t r o d u cti o n

of issues of materiality and spatiality from a feminist perspective serves as an important touchstone for Poetics and Place that, whilst not explicit in stating its feminist agenda throughout, nevertheless adheres to and embodies one. In sum, the artworks in Poetics and Place generate meaning through: (a) symbolic – including linguistic – signification; (b) the material qualities of both sign and substrate; (c) a practice of place. As such, they are situated at a crossover between poetry, art and spatial practice. Extending and relating the three elements of sign, subject and site, this book provides a theoretical framework and analytical tools for critique of such work, whilst exploring its political imperative and ethical potential. Developing a Critical Method through Critical Performance, Art-Writing and Site-Writing Drawing out my central concern with an artwork’s capacity to communicate verbally and through its material properties, as well as our capacity to receive and respond to this solicitation, I develop a critical method for engaging with the artworks in Poetics and Place. Constructed around a discursive frame, the theoretical concepts of sign, subject and site emerge through this critical method. There is, then, an interdependent relationship between the aesthetic strategies of the artworks I am discussing, my critical approach to them and the theoretical argument that arises out of my specific engagement with each. My critical method draws from theories and practices of critical performance, art-writing and site-writing. I shall explain this through responding to a selection of quotations that relate to these developments, thereby emphasising the dialogism intrinsic to the method itself. Criticism as a Subjective Act How could we believe, in fact, that the work is an object exterior to the man who interrogates it, an object over which the critic would exercise a kind of extraterritorial right? By what miracle would the profound communication which most critics postulate between the work and its







p o e tics a n d p lac e

author cease in relation to their own enterprise and their own epoch? Are the laws of creation valid for the writer but not for the critic? All criticism must include in its discourse (even if it is the most indirect and modest manner imaginable) an implicit reflection on itself; every criticism is a criticism of the work and a criticism of itself. In other words, criticism is not at all a table of results or a body of judgements, it is essentially an activity, i.e., a series of intellectual acts profoundly committed to the historical and subjective existence (they are the same things) of the man who performs them. – Roland Barthes, ‘What is Criticism?’ (1972)

The writing of Roland Barthes is protean. Change is evident throughout his body of work where we see Barthes in the guise of structuralist, phenomenologist, psychoanalyst – sometimes all three at once, as in his exquisitely contradictory Camera Lucida (1980). Barthes’ ability and willingness to shift ideological positioning offers two things. Firstly, it allows us to recognise that the object of study contains no ‘truth’ content somehow beyond ideology. Secondly, it reveals that ideological value is, itself, a reflection of the subjectivity of the critic and not something intrinsic to the object of study itself. This is where the above quote comes in. Important for my purposes is Barthes’ stress here that all criticism is a subjective act – it is, he says, a series of intellectual acts performed by the critic. Moreover, he asserts that all critical discourse should include, in some manner, a reflection on itself. The Reception of an Artwork as both Interpretation and Performance A work of art, therefore, is a complete and closed form in its uniqueness as a balanced whole, while at the same time constituting an open product on account of its susceptibility to countless different interpretations which do not impinge on its unadulteratable specificity. Hence every reception of a work of art is both an interpretation and a performance of it because in every reception the work takes on a fresh perspective for itself. – Umberto Eco, The Role of the Reader (1979)

Through Barthes, we can appreciate that any critical engagement with an artwork is subjective and performative. This suggests that

i n t r o d u cti o n

any critical interpretation of an artwork is not the only interpretation; rather, it is simply one amongst many that arises from a critic’s subjective process of engagement. It is interesting to compare this with the quotation above from Barthes’ contemporary Umberto Eco, taken from his infamous chapter ‘The Poetics of the Open Work’ as found in The Role of the Reader (1979). In this chapter Eco makes specific reference to then-recent works of instrumental music that employ compositional strategies designed to open the decision of how actually to perform the work up to the performer herself. Eco extrapolates this understanding to all works of art, which he says are similarly ‘open’ to and through the varied interpretations of the one receiving them. What strikes me in particular about Eco’s claim is the suggestion that works of art employ aesthetic strategies that cultivate more or less ‘openness’. This, to me, suggests that an artwork’s aesthetic strategies, as much as a recipient’s subjective readerly strategies, play a role in its performance that, for Eco, is also an interpretation. Drawing from Eco, we can appreciate the reciprocity of relation between an artwork and its recipient that exists at the point where an artwork’s aesthetic strategies meet with the recipient’s readerly strategies. Critical Performance as Close ‘Listening’ and Response My argument in this book has been that the majority of interesting works of art produced over the course of the last two or three decades ask us to fill in the gaps they produce. They are pensive, to use Barthes’s word, and demand a more conscious and conceptual approach to art. They demand critical performance. – Henry Sayre, The Object of Performance: The American Avant-Garde Since 1970 (1989)

This quote from the art and literary critic Henry Sayre ties together the ideas of Barthes and Eco. Akin to Eco, Sayre suggests that particular kinds of artwork solicit a particular engagement from their recipient. In this case Sayre is referring to what he calls avant-garde art produced in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s, including contemporary dance, photography, oral poetics, performance art and earthworks. Positing that these artworks solicit a recipient to ‘fill in the gaps’, Sayre then makes specific reference to the quote from Barthes’ essay





10

p o e tics a n d p lac e

cited above to argue that they ‘demand critical performance’. What is particularly significant about Sayre’s argument for my purposes that many of the artworks in Poetics and Place were produced in the United States either during this same time period to which Sayre refers or just after. And although the term avant-garde might not best describe them, I do think that they solicit the subjective critical approach called for by Barthes, and that Sayre is calling critical performance. However, what Sayre calls ‘gaps’ I shall consider ‘silences’ filled by these artworks’ material qualities. I consider these silences a solicitation through the artwork’s material communication such that a critical performance of these artworks becomes less about filling in the gaps and more about closely ‘listening’ and responding to them. The Poesis of Critical Writing In the poesis of making possible, performative writing simultaneously slips the choke hold of conventional (scientific, rational) scholarly discourses and their enabling structures. It moves with, operates alongside, sometimes through, rather than above or beyond, the fluid, contingent, unpredictable, discontinuous rush of (performed) experience – and against the assumption that (scholarly) writing must or should do otherwise. It requires that the writer drop down to a place where words and the world intersect in active interpretation, where each pushes, cajoles, entrances the other into alternative formations, where words press into and are deeply impressed by ‘the sensuousness of their referents’. – Della Pollock, ‘Performing Writing’ (1998)

The voices we have heard so far all emphasise the subjective and performative aspect of engaging with a text or artwork. This quote from Della Pollock emphasises the performative aspect of writing itself. Foregrounding poesis, or the act of making, Pollock here undermines any conception that the process of writing is somehow detached from what one is writing about: to single out a fragment of the quote above, when performing writing ‘words press into and are deeply impressed by “the sensuousness of their referents”’. This is particularly interesting in the context of criticism when what one is writing about is an artwork. If we consider criticism in terms of an act of performing critical writing, Pollock’s argument implies

i n t r o d u cti o n

how this writing is informed or ‘impressed’ by the aesthetics of the artwork. Phrased differently, performing critical writing yields a text whose poetics embody the reciprocity between an artwork’s aesthetic strategies and the critic’s readerly as much as writerly strategies. Foregrounding an Artwork through Art-Writing Whereas in the more traditional approaches to art, works of art are more often than not illustrations to an intellectual argument, here they come first. This is not to suggest that the critic is silenced, hidden behind a false secondariness. No, the overt purpose of this essay is to demonstrate that the closer the engagement with the work of art, the more adequate the result of the analysis will be, both in terms of that particular work and as an account of the process of looking… The interactive principle underlying such an approach feeds into the constantly changing methodology of art-writing. It also undermines any possible attempt to reduce the analysis to a formalistic, descriptive mode. Based on the relational quality of the work, it is by necessity also a principle of openness toward the social as well as the emotional, cognitive, and affective processes that we call, for lack of a better word, aesthetic. But this word can only be used if it is understood, as it was always meant to be, in terms of precisely that process that involves body and mind, viewer and word, in an inextricable mixture. – Mieke Bal, Louise Bourgeois’ Spider: The Architecture of Art-Writing (2001)

In developing a theory and practice of art-writing, Mieke Bal is particularly concerned with how writing about art tends to move away from the work itself, becoming a substitute for it: illustrating ideas rather than articulating them. A self-proclaimed literary specialist trained in close reading – as I have also been trained – Bal calls for a closer engagement with works of art in art criticism. In saying so, she is not proclaiming an overarching methodology for writing about art. Instead, as is evident in this quote, Bal invites critics to reciprocally engage with the particularities of a given work and their own ways of viewing. This interactive principle underlies Bal’s approach to what she calls ‘art-writing’. Importantly for Bal, rather than illustrating a critic’s preconceptions, such a process often ends up producing alternate theoretical positions. This is especially true, she writes, of

11



12

p o e tics a n d p lac e

theoretically rigorous works of art. Such works, she argues, can thus be understood in terms of a ‘theoretical object’, themselves contributing to the discourse around art. As a mode of art criticism that ‘puts the art first’, art-writing recognises that an artwork, itself, can articulate thought about art, thus acknowledging the cognitive and epistemic value of aesthetic process itself. I draw from art-writing’s emphasis on the close reading – or, as I have called it, close ‘listening’ – to an artwork; with this, its underlying interactive principle as well as an appreciation that certain artworks can be considered theoretical objects. Foregrounding the Spatiality of Relation through Site-Writing I am interested in constructing an architecture of art criticism – in how writing operates to reflect one set of relations while producing another. Site-Writing creates architectural texts out of the critic’s use of a number of artworks, extending the spatial aspects of Bal’s exploration of ‘artwriting’ as a form of architecture, and adapting Caygill’s notion of strategic critique where the criteria for making judgements are discovered or invented through the course of criticism. Combining differing genres and modes of writing in art criticism, whose critical ‘voices’ are objective and subjective, distant and intimate, this approach develops alternative understandings of subjectivity and positionality. From the close-up to the glances, from the caress to the accidental brush, Site-Writing draws on spaces as they are remembered, dreamed and imagined, as well as observed, in order to take into account the critic’s position in relation to a work and challenge criticism as a form of knowledge with a singular and static point of view located in the here and now. – Jane Rendell, Site-Writing: The Architecture of Art Criticism (2010)

Extending the spatial possibilities implicit in Bal’s art-writing is Jane Rendell’s theory and practice of ‘site-writing’. The tenets for Rendell’s site-writing are laid out in Art and Architecture: A Place Between (2006), discussed above, and articulated fully in Site-Writing: The Architecture of Art Criticism (2010). Arguing that Bal’s art-writing underplays the importance of the critic’s subjective position in relation to an artwork as well as the actual construction of the critical text, Rendell develops an architecture of art criticism that aims to put the ‘sites of engagement with art first’ (Site-Writing 1). For Rendell, who was trained as an architect and historian, this entails foregrounding

i n t r o d u cti o n

the spatial position of the critic in relation to an artwork. Rendell uses feminism, postmodern geography and psychoanalysis to lay the theoretical groundwork necessary for an appreciation of the critic as subjectively located in relation to an artwork. Drawing from psychoanalytic theory in particular, Rendell then articulates one’s encounter with an artwork as an encounter with an ‘other’ with all of its attendant psychical, and spatial, complexity. Rendell develops these theoretical concerns through her practice of site-writing. This is evident in a number of textual configurations wherein she employs the multiple positions available to the writerly ‘I’ as well as other subject and object positions, engaging autobiographical narrative and other modalities of writing in order to position her relationship to a work; from there, to trace and construct ‘a series of interlocking sites, relating, on the one hand, critic, work and artist, and on the other, critic, text and reader’ (Rendell, Site-Writing 14). Subjectively situated in relation to the artwork, adopting various strategies and tactics of creative and critical writing, Rendell constructs and traces a network of sites through the spaces of her spatial, imaginative and creative site-writing. Rendell’s emphasis on the spatiality of relation between a critic and an artwork suggests how a performance of critical writing can be considered in terms an encounter between the critic and the artwork-as-another. As a critical method, site-writing foregrounds textual construction, and this allows me to appreciate an artwork as a site for performing critical writing that results in the critical text. In each of these respects, I consider my critical method as a kind of sitewriting, albeit with a different emphasis than Rendell’s. This stems from my specific concern with an artwork’s capacity to communicate through its material properties, as well as our capacity to ‘listen’ to and respond to this. Artwork and Recipient as ‘I’ and ‘ You’ I use ‘I’ only when I am speaking to someone who will be a ‘you’ in my address…‘I’ posits another person, the one who, being, as he is, completely exterior to ‘me’, becomes my echo to whom I say ‘you’ and who says ‘you’ to me. – Émile Benveniste, ‘Subjectivity in Language’ (1958)

13



14

p o e tics a n d p lac e

My particular concern with the communicative capacities of an artwork’s material properties and ours to ‘listen’ and respond to this necessitates that I situate my subjective encounter with the artworks in Poetics and Place within a discursive frame. As a result, my primary concern is with the spatiality of relation between the discursive subjects ‘I’ and ‘you’. And while, like Rendell, my aim is to foreground the subjective encounter I have with an artwork – to put the site of my engagement with the artwork first – I do so specifically in order to ‘listen’ closely to the artwork, more along the lines of the ‘close reading’ that Bal advocates. This means that I acknowledge my subjectivity, writing as ‘I’ in relation to the artwork, but I do so specifically in order to position myself as its site of reception, ‘you’. Or, with reference to the quote above from linguist Émile Benveniste, whose definition of discursive subjectivity lays the foundation for my understanding of the subject in these artworks, I am the artworks’ echo. Inhabiting this second-person position becomes more pronounced as the chapters progress: a progression through which a subject-object relation shifts into the dyadic relation between ‘I’ and ‘you’ that, in turn, opens up to the political public sphere and a plurality of others. Here, as I argue in the final chapter, to maintain a second-person position in relation to the artwork becomes both an ethical responsibility and a political act. Ultimately, I consider my relation to the artworks dialogically, positioning myself as their site of reception, ‘you’, while the artworks, themselves, are positioned as ‘I’ – and, indeed, many of the artworks throughout this book employ this first-person grammatical position. The Critical (Lyrical) ‘I’ Echo might be taken as a figure or a trope for the troubled nature of lyric poetry…condemned to hapless repetition of the cadences and sound associations in others’ utterances. – Denise Riley, The Words of Selves: Identification, Solidarity, Irony (2000)

Many of the artworks in this book speak as ‘I’ and, although they might not be considered lyric poetry per se – with the exception of Dickinson – there is a lyricism to many of them. As I have said, one of the underlying tasks of this study is to consider the ethical and political efficacy of lyric. In this sense, Denise Riley’s claim that echo could be

i n t r o d u cti o n

taken as a figure for lyric poetry, which stems from her broader claim that the lyric ‘I’ is inherently multiple and the lyric ‘voice’ polyphonic, is helpful in addressing many of the criticisms waged against the lyric. Combined with Benveniste’s understanding that every utterance of the word ‘I’ implicates a ‘you’ – his confirmation, in other words, of the inherently decentred nature of the ‘I’ – any charge that the lyric somehow lays claim to a ‘unified’ and ‘self-present’ subject position is undermined. But that is not the only reason for introducing this quote from Riley, herself a poet and theorist. I do so also to suggest the multiplicity and polyphony inherent in a critic’s use of the first-person subject position. Indeed, might echo also be taken as a trope for the troubled nature of critical writing, when written through the guise of the ‘I’? A Critical Method for Poetics and Place Together, the tenets of critical performance, art-writing and sitewriting inform the critical method I use for engaging with the artworks in Poetics and Place. Emphasising my subjective relation to the artwork as its site of reception, ‘you’, I bring the meaning of the artwork to the fore. This means of engaging with each artwork – or in some cases its documentation and related materials – and ‘listening’ closely to the artwork’s message. Responding to this through a performance of critical writing, I draw out the coded and contextual meanings of the artwork as well as the meanings generated through its material properties. In doing so, my aim is to extend each artwork beyond the dyad of this critical encounter in order to offer – and allow others to grasp – an appreciation of how it figures meaningfully, as well as configures meaning, in the wider world of objects and things. Laying a Theoretical Foundation for Poetics and Place Toward a Material Poetics Roman Jakobson’s scheme of the ‘speech event’ is crucial for understanding the meaningful materiality of the artworks in Poetics and Place and how these artworks relate to their wider context. Deceptively simple in appearance, Jakobson’s scheme elucidates

15



16

p o e tics a n d p lac e

the complexity of meaning in any discursive exchange. Importantly, this scheme is capable of accounting for how the artworks under consideration in this book, many of which employ a verbal message, generate meaning not only through the language of their message, but also through their physical material properties. I call this a ‘material poetics’. Arriving at an understanding of material poetics through Jakobson’s speech event links an appreciation of artworks that employ a verbal message to Jakobson’s seminal argument concerning the nature and function of poetry. More broadly, extending Jakobson’s scheme, as I do through my scheme of the ‘communication event’, offers a framework through which to consider the communicative capacity of any artwork situated at a crossover of poetry, art and spatial practice. As outlined in ‘Closing Statement: Linguistics and Poetics’ (1958), the defining characteristic of Jakobson’s speech event is the relationship between an ‘addresser’ and an ‘addressee’, predicated on the sending of a ‘message’ ( Jakobson, ‘Closing’ 353). CONTEXT ADDRESSER MESSAGE ADDRESSEE ………………………………………………………….. CONTACT CODE While the message, itself, is inert, it becomes activated through the reciprocal acts of speaking and listening. (Importantly, Jakobson also uses the speech event to account for written works, whose messages are activated through writing and reading. Arguably, we can extend this even further to messages sent and received in theatre, film, dance, etc.) Within the speech act, the message becomes operative – which for Jakobson means that it is understandable to the addressee – through recourse to the other constituent factors of the event including the ‘code’, ‘context’ and ‘contact’. The code here refers to the symbolic code, language. (We can, again, extend this to include other semiotic codes.) The context, Jakobson writes, is ‘a context referred to (‘referent’ in another, somewhat ambiguous, nomenclature), seizable by the addressee, and either verbal or capable of being verbalized’ ( Jakobson, ‘Closing’ 353). Phrased differently, the context is the world of objects and things as this is referred to by language. Finally,

i n t r o d u cti o n

Jakobson defines the contact as ‘a physical channel and psychological connection between the addresser and the addressee, enabling both of them to enter and stay in communication’ ( Jakobson, ‘Closing’ 353). For Jakobson, a verbal message’s orientation toward any of these six factors determines a different linguistic function, including the ‘emotive’, ‘referential’, ‘poetic’, ‘phatic’, ‘metalingual’ and ‘conative’ functions.13 While any verbal message fulfils a combination of any of these six functions, the verbal structure of a message depends upon the predominant function ( Jakobson, ‘Closing’ 353). Isolating the poetic function, Jakobson answers what he considers the primary question of poetics, ‘What makes a verbal message a work of art?’ ( Jakobson, ‘Closing’ 350). What makes a verbal message a work of art (i.e. poetry or literature) is, Jakobson argues, when the message is characterised primarily by the poetic function, which he defines as an orientation toward the message itself. We can unpack this definition by looking at an earlier essay, ‘Two Aspects of Language and Two Types of Aphasic Disturbances’ (1956). Here Jakobson argues that the poetic function manifests through the figurative tropes of metaphor and metonymy, which he associates with poetry and realistic prose, respectively. In poetry, Jakobson argues, an orientation toward the message itself entails a predominant concentration the selection of signs from within the linguistic code. Through the concentration on the ‘axis of selection’, the logic of similarity characteristic of this axis gets introduced into the ‘axis of contiguity’, or the syntax of a verbal statement. This manifests within poetry in patterns of rhyme, rhythm, metre and so forth. Jakobson then contrasts poetry’s concentration on selection with realistic prose, where an orientation toward the message itself entails focusing predominantly on the combination of linguistic signs in the context of a verbal statement, with the aim of digressing metonymically into the referential context: ‘Following the path of contiguous relationships, the realist author metonymically digresses from the plot to the atmosphere and from the characters to the setting in space and time. He is fond of synecdochic details,’ Jakobson writes (‘Two Aspects’ 256).14 All of which suggests that what makes a verbal message a work of art is when the verbal message is characterised by an orientation toward the message itself through a concentration

17



18

p o e tics a n d p lac e

on code and context (i.e. the selection and combination of linguistic signs) as realised through metaphor and metonymy, and epitomised in poetry and prose, respectively. Given the previous exclusion of the referent from structuralist linguistic theory, Jacobson’s (re)introduction of a meaningful relationship between a verbal message and its referential context in his scheme of the speech event is both striking and theoretically complex. To appreciate this, I turn to an earlier essay by the linguist Émile Benveniste entitled ‘The Nature of the Linguistic Sign’ (1939). Written well before Jakobson’s ‘Closing Statement’, here Benveniste reintroduces the question of the referent that was excluded by Ferdinand de Saussure from his study of structuralist linguistics, which concentrates solely on language as a system of signs; signs that are, themselves, deemed to be comprised of an arbitrary relationship between a signifier and signified. Contrary to this claim, Benveniste argues that the relationship between the signifier and the signified of the linguistic sign is not arbitrary; rather, it is necessary. The linguistic sign would not be a linguistic sign without this relationship. What is arbitrary, Benveniste argues, is the linguistic sign’s relation to the reality or ‘thing’ to which it refers. This still affirms the linguistic sign’s arbitrary nature, but only by introducing a ‘third term’ into Saussure’s linguistic theory: the referent or, in Benveniste’s terms, ‘the thing itself, the reality’ (Benveniste, ‘Nature Sign’ 44). With this, Benveniste (re)introduces the relationship between the word and the world into a study of linguistics. Importantly, Benveniste’s continuing argument suggests that even if the relationship between the word and its material referent, or the word and the world, is arbitrary, the linguistic sign nevertheless ‘overlies and commands reality; even better, it is that reality’ for the speaker (Benveniste, ‘Nature Sign’ 46). Benveniste extrapolates this idea in a later essay, ‘A Look at the Development of Linguistics’ (1962). Written four years after Jakobson’s ‘Closing Statement’, here Benveniste defines what he calls the ‘symbolic faculty’ as ‘the faculty of representing the real by a “sign” and of understanding the “sign” as representing the real – the faculty, then, of establishing a relation of “signification” between one thing and another’ (Benveniste, ‘Look’ 21). Through this symbolic faculty, Benveniste argues, language, which is a system of symbolic signs,

i n t r o d u cti o n

transforms elements of reality into concepts. These concepts are then used to categorise and organise reality. As a result, language is not a reflection of the world. When it is realised through the recriprocal acts of speaking and listening, language actually produces reality as an effect of discourse: ‘Thus the situation inherent in the practice of language, namely that of exchange and dialogue, confers a double function on the act of discourse; for the speaker it represents reality, for the hearer it recreates that reality’, argues Benveniste (Benveniste, ‘Look’ 22).15 In terms of Jakobson’s scheme, this implies that any exchange of a verbal message is capable of producing reality as an effect. In terms of the artworks that I am looking at, this implies that their employment of a verbal message – specifically, our reception of this message – is capable of producing reality as an effect. Herein lies the importance for considering the relationship between the word and the world in Jakobson’s scheme and, more specifically, my study of the artworks in this book: it paves the way for appreciating how these artworks can employ critical aesthetic strategies when generating their verbal message as a way of questioning given realities, or producing alternative ones. Which is to say, it suggests the potential link between aesthetics and politics – or poetics and politics – that becomes increasingly important in this study. Having said this, I am not just interested in the verbal poetics of the artworks with which I am engaging. I am, as I have stressed, concerned with how these artworks generate meaning through their material properties or, as I am calling it, through a material poetics. As will become evident throughout this study, material poetics enable an artwork to relate to its context not just through an arbitrary linguistic relation, but through the physical and existential relation that an artwork’s material properties have with the world of objects and things. How, I ask, can an artwork employ critical strategies of a material poetics, and to what effect? With this in mind, I turn again to Jakobson’s scheme in order to precisely define my understanding of material poetics. Specifically, I refer to Jakobson’s definition of the contact in ‘Closing Statement’ as ‘a physical channel and psychological connection between the addresser and the addressee, enabling both of them to enter and stay in communication’ ( Jakobson, ‘Closing’ 353). As we have seen, each

19



20

p o e tics a n d p lac e

constitutive factor of Jakobson’s speech event is associated with a particular function. For Jakobson, a verbal message with an orientation toward the contact is characterised by the phatic function. Primarily serving to establish or prolong communication, or to check if the ‘channel’ works, these messages are used to attract the attention of the interlocutor and to confirm that continued attention ( Jakobson, ‘Closing’ 355). Jakobson likens this kind of communication to talking birds, indicating that it is the one kind of communication shared between humans and animals. He also argues that it is ‘the first verbal function acquired by infants; they are prone to communicate before being able to send or receive informative communication’ ( Jakobson, ‘Closing’ 353). From this description, I appreciate ‘phatic communication’, oriented toward the contact, as anterior to language, but coextensive with speech. And this, I suggest, is none other than the material aspect of language. As with the relationship between the word and the world, this material aspect of language is excluded from formalist linguistic theory wherein language is conceived solely in terms of an immaterial order of signs. However, within the situation of speech, this material aspect of language can be recognised, as it is realised, through the reciprocal acts of speaking and listening that establish contact between the speaker and listener: this is clear enough from Jakobson’s inclusion of the contact within his scheme of the speech event. This appreciation of the material aspect of language is also found, again, in Benveniste’s ‘A Look at the Development of Linguistics’, where, after having claimed that the symbolic faculty finds its ‘supreme realization in language’, Benveniste argues that, in fact, language is a special symbolic system organised on two planes. The first is the material plane of language: language as a physical fact that ‘makes use of the vocal apparatus for arising and the auditory apparatus for being perceived’ (Benveniste, ‘Look’ 25). The second is an immaterial plane, ‘a communication of things signified, which replaces events or experiences by their “evocation”’ (Benveniste, ‘Look’ 25). If we read Benveniste’s argument here in terms of Jakobson’s speech event, language organised as an ‘immaterial structure’ relates to the code of a verbal message, whereas the ‘material aspect’ of language, acted out through speaking and listening, engenders the contact. It is this appreciation of language as a double-sided entity,

i n t r o d u cti o n

both code and contact, that is of interest to me, and that informs my summative definition of material poetics. I posit that artworks employing a verbal message are, like works of verbal art, oriented toward the message; thus, characterised by the poetic function. They can reveal this orientation through a concentration on code and context, as realised through metaphor and metonymy. However, it is through an additional concentration, or even a sole focus, on the contact that they reveal an orientation toward their message: this is material poetics. This orientation toward the contact characterises the artworks in Poetics and Place, whose messages are realised through a meaningful manipulation of the artworks’ material aspects. Now, if accounting for the material aspect of language requires a consideration of the reciprocal embodied acts that perform a verbal message, this suggests that a material poetics is inexplicably linked to the performance of the verbal message: its embodied enactment through the reciprocal acts of ‘speaking’ and ‘listening’. (I place these words in quotations to denote an extended appreciation of these terms that includes any embodied performance of language; that is, not only speaking and listening, but also writing and reading, gesturing and viewing, and so forth.) This emphasis on the reciprocal performance of a verbal message is therefore evident throughout Poetics and Place. It is embodied in the critical method I use to engage with the artworks; it underpins the concepts of sign, subject and site being developed; and it characterises the relationship between poetics and place in these artworks. Through this emphasis and, with it, the attention I give to the material quality of an artwork’s verbal message, I rethink the relationship between the word and the world that these artworks evidence. I develop a theory of discursive subjectivity taking into account the phenomenology of voice and appearance. And I explore the political imperative and ethical potential of employing a material poetics practice. In each of these respects, Poetics and Place contributes to discussions of materiality, spatiality, subjectivity at a crossover between poetry, art and spatial practice, whilst exploring the way that these artworks can contribute to contemporary ethicopolitical discourse.

21



22

p o e tics a n d p lac e

The Indexical Symbol To account for the meaningful aspects of both the code and the contact of a verbal message requires a reconceptualisation of the linguistic sign for a material poetics. For this, I propose to consider the sign in terms of the indexical symbol, understood in a material sense. I base my understanding of the indexical symbol in a material sense on a revision of the semiotics of the philosopher C.S. Peirce by Arthur Burks. Writing in the essay ‘Icon, Index, Symbol’ (1949), Burks emphasises the potential for semiotic complexity in Peirce’s original formulation of a typology of signs based on ‘icon’, ‘index’ and ‘symbol’. In this typology, each of these refers to the different means whereby the sign relates to an object in the mind of an interpreter.16 The icon bears a mimetic relation, a relation of similitude or likeness, to the world or object; for example, photographic images, diagrams and mimicry (as an auditory icon) (Peirce, ‘Reasoning’ 14; Ms. c. 1895). The index has a real connection to an object: it ‘bears a physical or existential relation to the world or object’, says Peirce (Peirce, ‘What?’ 9). Examples include a pointing finger, the North Star and demonstrative pronouns such as ‘this’ or ‘that’ (Peirce, ‘Reasoning’ 15). And the symbol bears no direct relation to the world or object but, rather, becomes related to the world or object by means of a learned association or law (Peirce, ‘What?’ 9). In this sense, the linguistic sign is a type of Peircian symbol. Important for Burks is Peirce’s understanding that these signs can be of mixed nature, not simply icons, indices or symbols, respectively. It is this potential for semiotic complexity that subtends Burks’ revision of Peirce, whereby he arrives at a definition of the indexical symbol.17 Burks argues that Peirce’s major contribution to knowledge is his recognition of indexicality as a ‘genuine mode of meaning’ (Burks 685). However, Burks argues that Peirce’s definition of the index necessitates a revision. Burks offers this as follows: ‘an index is a sign which signifies its object through an existential connection to this object’, which is the index in the classical Peircian sense, ‘or to a sign of this object’, which is Burks’ revision to Peirce’s definition of the index (Burks 678). It is on account of this revision that Burks uses the

i n t r o d u cti o n

term ‘indexical symbol’. According to Burks, the fundamental kind of indexical sign is actually the indexical symbol and not, as he calls it, the ‘pure index’ (Burks 680). Burks proceeds to define the indexical symbol specifically in terms of grammatical indexicality. This includes words such as ‘now’ and ‘then’ as well as personal pronouns such as ‘I’ and ‘you’: words that are, in linguistic terminology, called ‘shifters’. First, Burks differentiates between indexical symbols and non-indexical symbols based on how they relate to ‘token’ and ‘type’. 18 As an example, Burks uses the word ‘red’, a non-indexical symbol. Each occurrence of the pattern red is called a token of red. This occurrence is ‘an event of a certain character (i.e. of having a sound or sight pattern characteristic of the word), and so has a location in space and time’ (Burks 681). Burks then explains that the class of all of these tokens, in this case the occurrence of the word ‘red’, is its type. A token is thus a specific instance or ‘event’ of a certain character (here, the word ‘red’); a type is the class of all these given tokens. Burks then looks at how this type-token distinction can be applied to indexical symbols, thereby distinguishing them from non-indexical symbols. As an example, he takes the word ‘now’. Each occurrence of the word ‘now’ is a token of it, and the class of all of these tokens of ‘now’ is its type. And here is where the distinction comes in, seeing as ‘the spatiotemporal location of a token of a non-indexical symbol is irrelevant to its meaning’ whereas ‘with an indexical symbol…the spatiotemporal location of a given token of such a symbol is relevant to the meaning of that token: “now” means two different things when it is uttered on two different days’, he writes (Burks 681). In other words, each instance or token of a non-indexical symbol (e.g. the word ‘red’) has the same meaning, which is the meaning of its type; however, each instance or token of an indexical symbol (e.g. the word ‘now’) has a unique meaning, specific to its spatiotemporal location. Stemming from this distinction, Burks employs the terms ‘symbolic-meaning’ and ‘indexical-meaning’ to differentiate between non-indexical symbols and indexical symbols. Burks refers to the common element in the meaning of a token and the meaning of its type as symbolic-meaning (Burks 681). For a non-indexical symbol (e.g. the word ‘red’), this symbolic-meaning is its full meaning.

23



24

p o e tics a n d p lac e

However, in the case of an indexical symbol, this is only part of its full meaning, and he refers to its full meaning as indexical-meaning (Burks 681). This allows us to distinguish between the non-indexical and indexical symbols as follows: each instance or token of a non-indexical symbol (e.g. the word ‘red’) has the same symbolicmeaning, the meaning of its type, which is its full meaning. In contrast, each instance or token of an indexical symbol (e.g. the word ‘now’) has the same symbolic-meaning; however, this is only part of its full meaning since each indexical symbol has a different indexicalmeaning, specific to its spatiotemporal location, that makes it unique. All of which suggests, as Burks concludes, that two tokens of a given type of symbol (e.g. the word ‘red’) have the same symbolic-meaning, whereas two tokens of a given type of indexical symbol (e.g. the word ‘now’) may – and most often do – have different indexical meanings (Burks 682). While Burks’ discussion in ‘Icon, Index, Symbol’ relates solely to the indexical symbol understood in a grammatical sense, I use Burks’ argument to subtend a further theorisation of the indexical symbol, understood in a material sense. As we have seen with Burks, what must be understood or known by the interpreter in order to grasp the symbolic-meaning of an indexical symbol understood in the grammatical sense is the language of the code wherein this meaning resides. However, in order to grasp its indexical-meaning, the interpreter must also possess a knowledge or understanding of the particular spatiotemporal location in which the indexical symbol is interpreted. I propose to consider the spatiotemporal location in which one interprets the indexical symbol in terms of Jakobson’s speech event. Significantly, Jakobson himself actually situates the indexical symbol understood in the grammatical sense within his scheme of the speech event in the essay ‘Shifters, Verbal Categories, and the Russian Verb’ (1957). Here Jakobson argues that linguistic shifters (words such as ‘I’ and ‘you’, ‘now’ and ‘then’) are ‘a complex category where code and message overlap’, whereupon he refers specifically to Burks’ revision of Peirce in order to classify the shifter as a type of indexical symbol ( Jakobson, ‘Shifters’ 132). Critically, both ‘code’ and ‘message’ are constitutive aspects of Jakobson’s speech event. This means that in order to understand the meaning of the

i n t r o d u cti o n

indexical symbol in a grammatical sense, when this is situated in Jakobson’s speech event, one must have a knowledge of both the code and the message. Stemming from this, I ask: how do we understand the meaning of the indexical symbol understood in the material sense when this is situated within Jakobson’s scheme of the speech event? To answer this, I recall that other factor of Jakobson’s speech event: the contact. Jakobson defines this as a ‘a physical channel and psychological connection between the addresser and the addressee, enabling both of them to enter and stay in communication’ ( Jakobson, ‘Closing’ 353) and, as I discussed above, it is in the contact of Jakobson’s speech event that I specifically locate the material quality of a sign as this is enacted through the reciprocal acts of ‘speaking’ and ‘listening’. It follows that I would locate the indexical-meaning of an indexical symbol, understood in the material sense, in the contact. Furthermore, if the indexical symbol in the grammatical sense (i.e. the linguistic shifter) is an overlap of message and code, I now posit that the indexical symbol in the material sense is an overlap of message, code and contact. With this understanding, the indexical symbol understood in the material sense serves as the basis for the sign in a material poetics and, therefore, the artworks in Poetics and Place. As I look at next, it also informs how I understand the subject. The Discursive Subjects ‘I’ and ‘ You’ as Indexical Symbols in both the Grammatical and Material Sense In his essay ‘Subjectivity in Language’ (1958), Benveniste defines subjectivity specifically in terms of the discursive act. ‘Now we hold that “subjectivity”, whether it is placed in phenomenology or psychology, as one may wish, is only the emergence in the being of a fundamental property of language. “Ego” is he who says “ego”’ (Benveniste, ‘Subjectivity’ 224). Benveniste further argues that this definition of subjectivity is inherently relational: any utterance of ‘I’ always implies a ‘you’. ‘I use “I” only when I am speaking to someone who will be a “you” in my address … “I” posits another person, the one who, being, as he is, completely exterior to “me”, becomes my echo to whom I say “you” and who says “you” to me’ (Benveniste, ‘Subjectivity’ 224). For Benveniste, subjectivity thus emerges in and

25



26

p o e tics a n d p lac e

through speaking – where ‘I’ posits another, as the ‘you’ of address – while falling into abeyance during the interludes between discursive exchange. Writing in The Subject of Semiotics (1983), film theorist Kaja Silverman notes the radical potential of this inherent contingency in Benveniste’s theory of the subject. Silverman looks at how Benveniste’s discursive relational subject is, like the Lacanian subject in language, constituted symbolically (i.e. dependent upon the production of the signified and operations of identification), and yet Benveniste’s discursive subject is transitive and contingent upon all of the contextual factors that bear on a given discursive instance. As such, subjectivity is never fixed, but fluctuates and multiplies with any given instance of discourse depending upon the range of discursive positions available at a given time, as understood with recourse to the context of the discursive exchange. In allowing for the possibility of change, ‘the generation of new discursive positions implies a new subjectivity as well’ and, for Silverman, herein lies the radical potential of Benveniste’s theory of the subject (Silverman, Subject 199). Suggestive of the political potential of Benveniste’s theory of the subject, Silverman’s reading is compelling for my own consideration of the subject in a material poetics and, thus, the artworks throughout the remainder of this book. That said, Silverman’s reading is based on an understanding of the ‘I’ and the ‘you’ as linguistic signifiers. What happens when we consider the ‘I’ and the ‘you’ as indexical symbols in the grammatical sense, as per Burks and Jakobson? As we have seen, in order to grasp the meaning of the indexical symbol in a grammatical sense, one must have a knowledge and understanding of its particular spatiotemporal location. I suggested above that we can understand this spatiotemporal location in terms of Jakobson’s speech event, whereby each of the constitutive factors of the event have a bearing on one’s interpretation of the indexical symbol. Now, if we understand the ‘I’ in terms of an indexical symbol in a grammatical sense, then the symbolic-meaning of the ‘I’ signifies the speaker of the utterance containing ‘I’, and all instances of ‘I’ have this symbolic-meaning. To grasp this meaning, one needs knowledge of the linguistic code in which it is uttered. This is, however, only part of the ‘I’s full meaning since each discursive instance or token of the word ‘I’ has a different

i n t r o d u cti o n

indexical-meaning that is specific to its spatiotemporal location, distinguishing it from all other tokens or instances. This, as we looked at above, means that the interpreter must have a knowledge of both code and message in order to grasp the full meaning of the ‘I’ and the ‘you’ as indexical symbols in the grammatical sense. However, Silverman has argued that the speaking subject ‘I’ is constituted ‘in terms of a range of discursive positions available at a given time, which reflect all sorts of economic, political, sexual, artistic, and other determinants’ (Silverman, Subject 199). In keeping, when we understand the ‘I’ in terms of an indexical symbol in a grammatical sense, then it is through this range of discursive positions that the ‘I’ – and the ‘you’ – become recognisable, both to themselves and/ through one another in the instance of discourse. This recognition is intrinsic to the indexical-meaning of the ‘I’ and the ‘you’ because it is specific to the contextual determinants of the spatiotemporal location in which they are uttered. So, in the instance of discourse, the symbolic-meaning of the ‘I’, the subject in language, is coupled with an indexical-meaning that is specific to the spatiotemporal location within the instance of discourse. This constitutes, at one and the same time, the ‘I’ as a grammatical subject in language and a culturally and historically specific (that is, contextually specific) discursive subject ‘I’ in relation to ‘you’, recognisable through a range of discursive positions available in any given instance of discourse. One’s constitution as a discursive subject, specific to the spatiotemporal location of the ‘I’ and the ‘you’ in an instance of discourse, therefore fills the ‘I’ with indexical-meaning. This means that in order to understand the full meaning of the grammatical indexical symbols ‘I’ and ‘you’ within the situation of discourse, one must have an understanding of code, message and context. If this is the case, then what happens if we consider the ‘I’ not just in terms of the indexical symbol in the grammatical sense, but also in the material sense, as I have proposed to do in order to arrive at a basis for the subject? If we consider the ‘I’ and the ‘you’ not just in terms of the indexical symbol in a grammatical sense, but also in a material sense, then the contextually specific indexical-meaning is still only part of the full indexical-meaning of the ‘I’. There is, in addition, an indexical-meaning of the ‘I’ that is specific to the contact;

27



28

p o e tics a n d p lac e

that is, to the material quality of the utterance in which the ‘I’ is spoken. Bearing this in mind, I look again at Jakobson’s ‘Shifters, Verbal Categories, and the Russian Verb’ (1957) where, significantly, he refers not just to Burks, as I have said, but also to Benveniste’s essay ‘Subjectivity in Language’. This reference to Benveniste occurs when Jakobson discusses the ‘I’ specifically in terms of the indexical symbol in a grammatical sense. Citing Benveniste’s definition of the subject in language, Jakobson pronounces: ‘I means the person uttering I’ ( Jakobson, ‘Shifters’ 132). With this as a basis, Jakobson goes on to claim, firstly, that the ‘I’ is associated with its represented object by a conventional rule: the ‘I’ is therefore a symbol. Jakobson then argues that ‘the word I designating the utterer is existentially related to his utterance’ ( Jakobson, ‘Shifters’ 132). The ‘I’ therefore functions indexically since the word ‘I’ is in existential relation with the object it represents, which in this case is the utterance. I now propose that, when uttered (that is, within the performance of speech or, by extension, writing), the indexical symbol ‘I’ that is indexically related to the utterance is specific to the material quality of the speaking voice: the voice with what Roland Barthes calls its ‘grain’. In ‘The Grain of the Voice’ (1972) Barthes writes that the ‘grain’ is ‘the body in the voice as it sings, the hand as it writes, the limb as it performs’ (Barthes, ‘Grain’ 188). Through Barthes, we can appreciate how the embodied acts of speaking, writing and performing imbue speech, writing and performance with a material quality or ‘grain’ that is specific to one’s unique corporeality. Phrased differently, this ‘grain’ is an index to the body in the act of speaking, writing, performing. It follows that any embodied enactment of language generates a verbal message as a composite of indexical symbols understood in the material sense, and that the body’s ‘grain’ is intrinsic to the indexical-meaning of this message. What is more, as this material quality of voice establishes the contact between the speaker and listener of this speech event, it is likewise part of the indexical-meaning of the indexical symbols ‘I’ and the ‘you’ in the instance of discourse. All of which suggests that the indexical symbols ‘I’ and ‘you’ are, in the situation of discourse, an overlap of message and code whose grammatical indexical-meaning inheres in the context and whose material indexical-meaning inheres in the contact.

i n t r o d u cti o n

I shall look in greater depth throughout Poetics and Place at the implications of voice for an understanding of subjectivity and, for now, settle on a definition of the discursive subjects ‘I’ and ‘you’ as indexical symbols in both the grammatical and material sense as the basis for the subject in this study. Within the instance of discourse, the indexical symbol ‘I’ refers, symbolically, to the grammatical subject ‘I’ in language. It also refers, indexically, to the discursive subject ‘I’ constituted through a range of culturally and historically specific (i.e. contextually specific) discursive positions available to the ‘I’ and the ‘you’ in any given instance of discourse. Finally, it refers, indexically, to the material quality of utterance that, itself, indexes the corporeal specificity of the one who speaks and also cultivates an indexical relation or contact between the one who speaks and the one who listens. Such is my understanding of the subjects ‘I’ and the ‘you’ in the artworks in Poetics and Place. Having clarified my understanding of the discursive subjects ‘I’ and ‘you’, the next question is where do I place them? I say this bearing in mind Benveniste’s definition above: ‘Now we hold that “subjectivity”, whether it is placed in phenomenology or psychology, as one may wish, is only the emergence in the being of a fundamental property of language. “Ego” is he who says “ego”,’ (Benveniste, ‘Subjectivity’ 224). It is important for my purposes to place my definition of subjectivity in a phenomenological context.19 I do so by situating an encounter between the discursive subjects ‘I’ and ‘you’, understood as indexical symbols in both the grammatical and material sense, in the public sphere of appearance as articulated by the philosopher Hannah Arendt. Positioning ‘I’ and ‘ You’ in the Public Space of Appearance In The Human Condition (1958), Arendt argues that we appear in the world and to others as unique; that is, we enter into the world and, physically appearing to others, expose ourselves as unique (Arendt, Human 178). Throughout our lives, she writes, we continue to appear physically ‘in the unique shape of the body and sound of the voice’ (Arendt, Human 179). We looked above at how each voice has a unique material quality or ‘grain’ that is specific to one’s corporeality and an index of the body of the one who emits. Introducing Arendt’s argument, voice is a means whereby we physically appear in the

29



30

p o e tics a n d p lac e

world and to others as unique beings. Later, in The Life of the Mind (1971), Arendt argues that all things – natural, artificial, living, dead – share in common the fact that they appear and, as such, are to be perceived by other sentient creatures. This exposed physicality constitutes the very basis of our being as relational. As Arendt notes, our entry into the world marks the point where ‘Being and Appearing coincide’, upon which she states: ‘nothing that is, insofar as it appears, exists in the singular; everything that is is meant to be perceived by somebody. Not man but men inhabit this planet. Plurality is the law of the earth’ (Arendt, Life 19). This suggests that, paradoxically, the singularity of our uniqueness hinges upon plurality since it can only be grasped in and through one’s reciprocal exposure in the realm of appearance. Following Arendt, the unique being is thus an embodied relational existent. It is not, however, that we simply exist physically and uniquely in the world as objects; for Arendt, we actively appear to the world and to others through our actions and our speech. This begins with birth, the first human act, whereby we reveal ourselves as unique corporeal identities and continues throughout our lives when, making our unique appearance in the world and to others, we also reveal who we are through action and speech: ‘In acting and speaking, men show who they are, reveal actively their unique personal identities and thus make their appearance in the human world, while their physical identities appear without any activity of their own in the unique shape of the body and sound of the voice’ (Arendt, Human 179). Through action as well as speech, we thus disclose our unique personal identity, above and beyond our unique corporeal identity, thereby distinguishing us as human and not merely distinct objects existing in the world. Moreover, by means of our appearance through speech and action, the subjective space between people is established. As such, Arendt argues, our physical or worldly in-between ‘is overlaid and, as it were, overgrown with an altogether different in-between which consists of deeds and words and owes its origin exclusively to men’s acting and speaking directly to one another’ (Arendt, Human 182). Arendt claims that this subjective in-between is not tangible; however, ‘for all its intangibility, this in-between is no less real than the world of things we visibly have in common’ (Arendt, Human 183). Indeed, it

i n t r o d u cti o n

constructs our reality insofar as the political realm emerges from this intangible space of the subjective in-between: ‘The political realm rises directly out of acting together, the “sharing of words and deeds”’ (Arendt, Human 198). As I see it, even while the subjective space of the in-between is, for Arendt, ‘intangible’, the fact that her arguments on speech and action stem from phenomenology indicates that her’s is a politics rooted in material conditions. Which is to say, we exist relationally as unique beings in a material context, the world of objects and things, while subjectively acting and interacting with others through words and deeds, thereby constituting the intersubjective realm of the political. Which returns me to my understanding of the discursive speaking subjects ‘I’ and ‘you’. Following Arendt, I now propose to understand the ‘being’ in Benveniste’s definition above, which underlies my nuanced definition of the discursive subjects ‘I’ and ‘you’, as a ‘unique being’: one who appears in the world and to others through the unique shape of body and sound of voice; who, in making this appearance, exists relationally in the world and with others. Subjectivity is the emergence in this unique being, understood as an embodied relational existent, of a fundamental property of language: the capacity to posit herself as a grammatical subject ‘I’ in an instance of discourse. Positing herself as ‘I’, she implies an address to ‘you’, thereby establishing a situation of discourse. I locate this situation of discourse within the realm of appearance; that is, a material context, the world of objects and things. Thus it is within this situation of discourse, itself located in a material context, that two unique beings, ‘I’ and ‘you’, appear uniquely to one another through the shape of their body and sound of their voice. Co-extensively, the ‘I’ and ‘you’, positioned relationally, become constituted as discursive subjects through a range of culturally and historically specific (i.e. contextually specific) discursive positions available to them in any given instance of discourse. Drawing all of this together, two unique beings, taking up the positions of ‘I’ in relation to ‘you’ in the situation of discourse, are positioned grammatically in language (i.e. the linguistic code), discursively through positions that are historically and culturally specific to the instance of discourse (i.e. the referential context) and materially in the world and in relation

31



32

p o e tics a n d p lac e

to one another through the specific quality and variable scale of the resonating voice (i.e. contact). Not only does all of this discussion of the ‘I’ and the ‘you’ lay the foundation for how I understand subjectivity in this study, it paves the way for my subjective critical approach to the artworks in Poetics and Place. As discussed above, I understand my encounter with these artworks in terms of an encounter between an ‘I’ and ‘you’, where the artwork is situated as ‘I’ and I, receiving them, am situated as their site of reception, ‘you’. It is my intent to foreground the materiality and spatiality of this encounter in my act of performing, interpreting and responding to each artwork. With this in mind, and in order to synthesise my discussion in this section, I offer an adaptation of Jakobson’s scheme of the speech event diagrammatically rendering an encounter between an artwork and its recipient. I use this extended framework to situate my critical engagement with the artworks in Poetics and Place. The Communication Event

The event exists, broadly, within ‘the world of objects and things’. This is the ‘material context’ in which the event takes place. Within this context, the specific acts of an artwork’s generation and subsequent reception occur within a respective ‘spatiotemporal location’. The artwork is positioned as ‘I’ and the recipient as ‘you’. The artwork’s ‘message’ is a composite of symbolic signs. This message is activated by the recipient’s reception of it. I consider the generation and reception of an artwork’s message in

i n t r o d u cti o n

terms of the reciprocal acts of ‘speaking’ and ‘listening’, which I place in quotations to denote an extended appreciation of these terms to include any embodied performance of language; for example, speaking and listening, writing and reading, gesturing and viewing. Through these reciprocal acts of ‘speaking’ and ‘listening’ the artwork becomes operative through recourse to each of the constitutive factors of the event. One factor is ‘the code(s)’, which includes – but is not restricted to – language. Another factor is the ‘referential context’, which is the world of objects and things as referred to by language. A third factor is the ‘contact’ between the artwork and its recipient. The contact cultivates a physical channel, and potentially psychic connection, between the artwork and its recipient. The material qualities of an artwork are located in this contact. The qualities can be considered in terms of the artwork’s ‘voice’, which I also place in quotations to denote an extended sense of this term. Throughout the course of this book, I look at how this contact, this ‘voice’, is materialised through, for example, ink and pencil on paper, the projection of light, architectural conditions, blood. I also look at how, through its material aspects, an artwork is capable of relating physically and existentially to its material context, thereby relating necessarily to the world of objects and things or, phrased differently, the political space of appearance. Structure of the Book Chapter 1 engages with Roni Horn’s Pair Object III: For Two Rooms: an artwork consisting of one set of paired, identical objects. These are placed so that a viewer encounters first an object in one room before moving into a second room where she encounters an identical object therein. Distinct in both tone and approach from the other chapters in this book, this more abstract argument takes Horn’s artwork as a ‘theoretical object’. Drawing from the semiotics of C.S. Peirce, as well as a revision of Peirce by Andrew Burks, my argument posits the indexical symbol understood in a material sense, with its capacity to signify through both its symbolic and its

33



34

p o e tics a n d p lac e

material qualities, as a basis for the sign in the artworks throughout Poetics and Place. Imagining a trajectory through the artwork I demonstrate how this sign emerges from one’s physical engagement with the concrete object(s) in the work with its unfolding spatial narrative of an encounter with an unfamiliar object in one room, followed by an encounter with an identical object in another room (a different space and time). I am particularly interested in the role that the materiality of the object, of the space and of the embodied viewer plays in this emergence of signification. In the course of my argument and engagement with Horn’s work I arrive at a diagram depicting the relationship between two indexical symbols through an embodied spatial practice. By extrapolation, I consider how the indexical symbol, understood in both the grammatical and material senses, provides a theoretical foundation for the subject. Specifically, I consider subjectivity in terms of a discursive relation between two indexical symbols, ‘I’ and ‘you’. I conclude with an analogical reading of my diagram in terms of an encounter between ‘I’ and ‘you’ and, by extension, an artwork and its recipient. This paves the way for my more subjective approach to the artworks in subsequent chapters. Chapter 2 begins to address the importance of site in the artworks under consideration, with specific consideration of the page in Emily Dickinson’s later manuscripts as a site for performing both creative and critical writing. These pages – ‘scraps’ with a profusion of shapes and sizes – reveal the poet’s spatial inhabitation of the page-assite through what I construe as a bounded mobility. Within the apparent confines of the page, Dickinson’s writing opens up into different spatial and semiotic orders, while her ‘I’ opens up to an encounter with ‘you’. Having been permitted to view the original editions of these manuscripts at the Dickinson Archive in Amherst, Massachusetts, I was thus allowed an intimate encounter with the traces, through the pages, of this very private poet, and my method and act of engaging with the work in this chapter is premised upon this notion of intimacy and trace. Chapter 3 continues the previous chapter’s exploration of an artwork through the traces of a bodily existent, this time centred around Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s video and sound installation

i n t r o d u cti o n

Passages Paysages (1978). Displayed in a gallery setting, Passages Paysages sets up a scene of address where I, as the recipient, effectively become the artwork’s site of reception: a ‘you’ receiving fragments of a life story – shown to me, told to me – that I am entreated to recollect. Experiencing the artwork in situ, I receive it as an act of self-representation ‘spoken’ through the multiplicity of an embodied (speaking, writing, gestural) ‘voice’ that brings me into close contact with the mediated presence of Cha herself. Intertwining with this discussion of Cha’s artwork is a theoretical argument concerning voice and subjectivity drawn from the work of philosophers JeanLuc Nancy, Hannah Arendt and Judith Butler. As becomes apparent throughout my engagement with Cha’s Passages Paysages, the artwork is marked by a fundamental opacity, but nevertheless communicates in and through this. Meanwhile, I, as the recipient, am confronted by that which I do not fully comprehend, but nevertheless endeavour to ‘listen’ and to respond. This chapter posits, ultimately, an ethical contract for aesthetics and for criticism based on a desire to communicate precisely through what we do not (or cannot) know or understand. Identifying an inherent trauma at the heart of Cha’s artwork, and suggesting that the artwork is able to communicate – as I am able to respond – even through this, I lay the foundations for a discussion regarding the ethical and political implications of the artworks with which I am engaging. The question thus arising is, for me, how might an artwork speak on behalf of another through a material poetic practice? I address this question in Chapter 4 where I look at Fiona Templeton’s Cells of Release. For this project, Templeton inhabited one wing of the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia (2 April– 17 May 1995) in order to write a single line of poetry, continuously and in solitude, for six weeks. The line was handwritten on a scroll of paper that was physically woven within the spatial order of the prison: its architectural syntax as well as the objects and things left on site. The poet responds to the spatial and material qualities of the prison in her writing, as she does to the information contained in the files relating to Amnesty International case studies that she placed in each cell. Throughout this chapter I explore how the language, performance and installation of Templeton’s line relates

35



36

p o e tics a n d p lac e

to the history and spatial ordering of the Eastern State Penitentiary where the artwork was both generated and received. I also look at how the artwork complements Amnesty International’s aim of calling attention to the plight of specific victims of abuse and unjust incarceration around the world. While the poet’s performance was private, her address was not. Written through the guise of the ‘I’ to, and eventually through, a multiplicity of ‘you’, the poem, combined with the material qualities of the artwork in situ, as well as the Amnesty International publications left on site, publicly solicited recipients of the artwork to take political action by writing letters on behalf of prisoners of conscience worldwide. How, I ask in this chapter, does the artwork ‘speak’ through language as well as its material qualities, to and through a multitude of ‘you’, in order to draw attention to prisoners of conscience? How is a recipient incited to respond by putting pen to paper in order to project the prisoners’ ‘voices’ into the world? In the final chapter, Chapter 5, I look at Jenny Holzer’s public dissemination of Lustmord (1993) in the German weekly Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin. Holzer’s artwork was generated in response to the war crimes committed during the wars in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina (1991–95) and, specifically, the rape, often leading to murder, of thousands of Bosnian Muslim women as an act of ethnic cleansing. The artwork ‘speaks’ through a firstperson ‘I’ to a recipient positioned as ‘you’, and I explore how this ‘I’ is both multiple and decentred so that Lustmord’s account of war and violence comes through a nomadic – and somewhat confusing – trajectory of subjective positions. The artwork speaks not only through language and the guise of the ‘I’ but also through its material qualities; specifically, the ink mixed with a small amount of blood from female volunteers and survivors of the Bosnian crisis. Lustmord’s bloody address to its some 500,000 recipients was loud and public, causing the public, in turn, to cry out. This chapter explores this dynamic of violence and fear between the work and its recipients, asking important questions about who speaks and who is seen within the public sphere. That is, who do we listen to and interact with in the realm of appearance? Can and should we speak on behalf of those who remain unheard and unseen?

i n t r o d u cti o n

And what role might aesthetic practices play in making these voices and bodies matter? The book’s conclusion reflects on the overall argument in Poetics and Place, opening up specific questions about the nature and function of empathy specifically in relation to the artworks in this book, but also more generally in relation to politically engaged contemporary art and poetic practices. This discussion allows me to suggest not only the potential for, but also the limitations of, a theory and practice of material poetics, thus clarifying the scope of this project as a whole.

37



1



Object, Sign and Punctuating Space: Tracing an Emergence of the Indexical Symbol through Roni Horn’s Pair Object III: For Two Rooms

Roni Horn’s Pair Object III: For Two Rooms is one configuration of Things Which Happen Again: a sculpture consisting of one set of paired, identical objects arranged in any of four spatial configurations.1 The artwork is documented in a catalogue, published alongside an exhibition of Things Which Happen Again at Städtisches Museum Abteiberg Mönchengladbach (1991), and including a technical description of the artwork, Horn’s floor plans for each of its four spatial configurations, photographic documentation of the artwork’s installation in situ and an interview with Horn. Without having had a first-hand experience of the artwork, I engage specifically with Pair Object III: For Two Rooms through these various forms of documentation. So saying, it is important to note that my approach to this particular artwork is speculative. I am offering neither an experiential account nor a definitive reading of Pair Object III: For Two Rooms. Rather, I am using the documentation as a way to imagine an engagement with the artwork. I do so specifically in order to consider Pair Object III: For Two Rooms as, in the words of art theorist and critic Mieke Bal, a ‘theoretical object’, with the aim of foregrounding theoretical thought and its visual articulation.2 This has implications for thinking about art, and particularly minimalist sculpture. It also allows me conceptualise an emergence of a sign, the indexical symbol understood in a material sense, as a basis for the sign – and the subject – in a material poetics and, therefore, the artworks throughout Poetics and Place.

39



40

p o e tics a n d p lac e

Horn’s Conceptual Underpinnings: Complexity within Simplicity The technical description of Horn’s Things Which Happen Again offers information about the formal and material properties of the objects that comprise the artwork and, thus, the configuration Pair Object III: For Two Rooms (see Fig. 1.1 below). In stating that the solid copper forms in Things Which Happen Again are each ‘17 inch diameter, tapering to 12 inch diameter over 35 inches’, Horn’s technical description suggests that the paired objects embody the geometry of a truncated cone (Horn, Things n. pag.). We can describe this geometry as follows: a single point, the origin, extrudes into a line in space, the end of this line becoming the displaced origin. From this displaced origin, a radial line is generated perpendicular to the existing line, forming a circle (this circle being the 17-inch diameter of the copper form in the description above). Each circumferential point on this circle is then joined back to the origin, forming a conical surface. A truncated cone or ‘conoid’ is generated when one planar surface (this being the 12-inch diameter of the copper form in the description above) intervenes between the circle and the origin (this intervention, in the description above, occurs after 35 inches). However, the truncated cone of Things Which Happen Again has a ‘a 5/8 inch convexity at the small end’ (Horn, Things n. pag.). This implies that it is not a flat planar surface that intervenes



Fig.1.1

Technical description of objects in Things Which Happen Again from Roni Horn, Things Which Happen Again, catalogue.



o b j e ct , si g n a n d p u n ct u ati n g s p ac e

between the circle and its extruded point but, rather, a curved one. Extending this curved plane into three dimensions, one understands it to refer to a sphere in the formal language of geometry. The objects of Things Which Happen Again are thus a formal composite of circle, cone and sphere that generates a truncated cone with one slightly convex surface. Horn thus uses basic geometric forms to generate an object that, in fact, embodies quite a complex geometric form (see Fig. 1.2 below). Such complexity relates directly to the ‘conceptual underpinnings’ for Horn’s artwork, which she refers to in the interview with Hannelore Kerstin published in the catalogue: The conceptual underpinnings [for Things Which Happen Again] dictated the need for a form which was recurrent, self-evident, familiar but not utterly familiar and memorable. The form also needed to be complex enough to hold the site it would be placed in – as well as the viewer’s interest over a certain and somewhat attenuated duration since the first work was conceived for two rooms. (Horn, Things n. pag.)

Horn’s conceptual criteria are played out formally in the object as follows: the circle, cone and sphere are basic geometric forms. The object generated from these is then, in Horn’s terminology, ‘familiar’ (the geometric forms that it embodies are familiar), ‘self-evident’ (the object, alone in situ, evidences the geometry of its form) and ‘recurrent’ (we recognise the object as a composite of these forms in this context origin

12 in. wide diameter w/ 5/8 in. convexity

(displaced origin)

17 in. wide diameter

Fig.1.2

Generation of truncated cone with one slightly convex surface: Kristen Kreider, drawing (2006).

41



42

p o e tics a n d p lac e

because we have encountered such forms previously in the language of geometry). However, the particular combination of these familiar geometric forms within Horn’s object (circle, cone and sphere) is less familiar. In line with her conceptual intentions, Horn has produced a formal object that is familiar, but with a certain amount of complexity that makes it ‘not utterly familiar’ – slightly different or strange. This would, arguably, stimulate the viewer’s curiosity, holding her interest in the object in relation to the site in which it is placed, thereby prolonging her engagement with the object, as Horn says above, ‘over a certain and somewhat attenuated duration’ (Horn, Things n. pag.). Horn’s conceptual underpinnings for Things Which Happen Again are also played out through the mode of production and materiality of the object. Horn describes the mode of production as ‘a straight machine finish handled with care. There is no polishing or refining involved. The choice of machining copper is relevant to the notion of duplication. The machine process implicates the notion of duplicity which is critical to this work’ (Horn, Things n. pag.). The fact that the object is machine-made rather than hand-crafted allows Horn to generate two identical objects: objects that are ‘familiar’ (to one another) and ‘recurrent’ (the viewer experiences one, then another identical object). As regards the material, Horn states: ‘Copper is the only metallic element which by means of its unique color at once identifies itself to the viewer and excludes confusion with another metal … Copper has discrete visual qualities which distinguish it instantly … Very few metals have this gross visual identity’ (Horn, Things n. pag.). The unique colour of the copper implies that the material quality of the object is, to use Horn’s term, ‘self-evident’. Combined, the mode of production and material quality of the object help to make an object that appears to be familiar, recurrent and self-evident, in keeping with Horn’s conceptual underpinnings for the artwork. The objects in Pair Object III: For Two Rooms, made from copper, have a unique material identity. Paradoxically, the fact that they are both made from this material implies that they actually share the ‘same’ unique material identity. However, let us consider that when the sculpture is placed inside of the gallery, the copper material of the machine-produced object would throw back light, thus creating



o b j e ct , si g n a n d p u n ct u ati n g s p ac e

a reflection of the space, through light, in its surface. Moreover, the conditions produced in and by the specific physicality of the room would change the hue and, therefore, the viewer’s perception of this reflection of light. This suggests, to me, that the materiality of the object in relation to the spatial and material conditions of the space in which it is located would become intrinsic to the viewer’s reception of Horn’s artwork, further distinguishing each object’s unique material identity. How is Horn’s artwork different from minimalist sculpture, to which the objects in this sculpture bear a striking resemblance? What distinguishes Horn’s sculpture, particularly in its configuration as Pair Object III: For Two Rooms, is how the material conditions of the object in situ combine with the act of doubling the objects in order to contribute further to its complexity of meaning: a complexity that is derived from its material and symbolic qualities; the phenomenological and semiotic status of the object(s). This further complexity arises through a viewer’s embodied enactment of the artwork’s spatial order: the practice of Pair Object III: For Two Rooms as place. Using Horn’s floor plans and photographic documentation of the artwork as a basis, I shall imagine this enactment of the artwork: its unfolding spatial narrative of an encounter with an unfamiliar object in one room followed by an encounter with an identical object in another room. Co-extensive with this imagined trajectory will run my theoretical argument concerning how a sign, the indexical symbol understood in a material sense, emerges through one’s physical engagement with the concrete object(s) in situ. Through this argument, I distinguish Horn’s artwork from minimalist sculpture, and also present the indexical symbol as a basis for the sign – and subject – in the artworks throughout Poetics and Place. Viewing the Plan for Pair Object III: For Two Rooms: Place and the Geometry of Relation In The Practice of Everyday Life (1974) anthropologist and spatial theorist Michel de Certeau offers definitions of ‘place’ and ‘space’ in the course of theorising spatial practice. Suggestively for my purposes, these definitions are, themselves, predicated on an analogy

43



44

p o e tics a n d p lac e

with linguistics. On the one hand, de Certeau’s definition of place aligns with Ferdinand de Saussure’s langue, or language as a system of signs. On the other hand, his definition of space aligns with parole, or the acting out of language through speech. With this in mind, I note de Certeau’s definition of place as ‘the order (of whatever kind) in accord with which elements are distributed in relationships of coexistence’ (de Certeau 117). This order excludes two things being in the same location. Instead, place is an ‘instantaneous configuration of positions’, he writes (de Certeau 117). In contradistinction to place, de Certeau defines space as active. Space exists through the actions deployed in it, and occurs as ‘the effect produced by the operations that orient it, situate it, temporalize it’ (de Certeau 117). Space, he says, is ‘like the word when it is spoken’ (de Certeau 117). In short, ‘space is a practiced place’ (de Certeau 117). Bearing in mind de Certeau’s distinction between place and space, I turn to the floor plan for Horn’s Pair Object III: For Two Rooms as it was installed in the Galerie Lelong (New York, 1988) (see Fig. 1.3). Viewed in plan, the object in the first room (Room A) appears to be identical to the object in the second room (Room A’); however,



Fig.1.3

Floor plan for Pair Object III: For Two Rooms from Roni Horn, Things Which Happen Again, catalogue.



o b j e ct , si g n a n d p u n ct u ati n g s p ac e

we know that the object in the first room is not the object in the second room. The objects are distinct – clearly separated from one another by a sign that, in the language of architectural drawing, refers to a wall. The objects thus coexist, but in completely separate locations. Using de Certeau’s terminology, the floor plan represents the artwork’s spatial order: a place consisting of the architectural syntax of the gallery and Horn’s two coexistent objects, one located in each room. Although the objects are distinct and separated, the logic of the floor plan suggests a geometric relationship between them. To follow this logic, we start with the initial points of vantage indicated for the objects in the first and second rooms, respectively. From these points of vantage, a viewer’s line of vision extends to encompass each object. A series of rings in the floor plan suggests that each initial vantage point is the centre of a circle. Now, if we draw a line from each point of vantage to the narrow end of each object, they become the radii of two circles (see Fig.1.4 below). We now have a geometric relationship between the viewer’s initial point of vantage and each object, as well as between the two objects themselves: a relationship described by two overlapping circles. Significantly, the circumference of each circle extends beyond the lines that indicate the physical parameters of the gallery in Horn’s floor plan. So, although this geometric relationship between the two objects is suggested by the logic of the drawing, it would be unrealisable in a viewer’s peripatetic enactment of the artwork in the gallery; it is an ideal relationship, not an existent one. The question arises: what relationships emerge between the viewer and the objects, as well as between the objects themselves, when we shift from this discussion of the artwork as ‘place’ into its enactment as ‘space’? To answer this, let us move from our bird’s-eye view of the artwork’s spatial order in the floor plan and into a story of its enactment, using Horn’s photographic documentation of Pair Object III: For Two Rooms to imagine a viewer’s embodied spatial practice of moving into and through one room, then another, and encountering the objects therein.

45



46

p o e tics a n d p lac e



Fig.1.4

Pair Object III: For Two Rooms with geometry of relation between viewer and objects in first and second room: Kristen Kreider, drawing (2006) incorporating Roni Horn, floor plan from Things Which Happen Again, catalogue.

Enacting Pair Object III: For Two Rooms: A Spatial Narrative A: Narrative of First Encounter Positioned at the point of vantage for the first room (Room A), the viewer encounters an object that appears to be a simple disc (see Fig. 1.5 below).3 (The disc sits, solitary. It seems to stare at her and, doing so, to position her stance in this perfect composition of floorline, window, ceiling – disc. She notices the striations of light reflecting on its surface, like the cross section of some mechanical tree.) The viewer recognises this disc as a circle through its iconic likeness to this geometric form. The disc thus refers to a circle: a symbol of perfect concentricity within the language of geometry. Using Arthur





o b j e ct , si g n a n d p u n ct u ati n g s p ac e

Fig.1.5

View of object in first room of Pair Object III: For Two Rooms from initial point of vantage of first room from Roni Horn, Things Which Happen Again, catalogue.

Burks’ terminology in ‘Icon, Index, Symbol’ (1949), the geometry of the circle is an element of the object’s ‘symbolic-meaning’. A viewer’s movement around the object following a perfectly concentric trajectory, as per the diagram above (Fig. 1.4), would spatially enact the object’s symbolic-meaning on the viewer’s horizontal plane. First encountered as a disc or circle, the object appears to solicit from the viewer this enactment of its symbolicmeaning. However, as we have seen, a symbolic-trajectory around the object in perfect concentricity starting at the initial point of vantage is impossible given the physical constraints of the gallery. In reality, given the constraints of the room, for the viewer to actualise a concentric movement around the object, she would first need to approach it. I envision this as a movement along an elliptical path. Once she has moved closer to the object on this elliptical path, a slight distortion of circumference, she can then begin to move concentrically around the object. In saying this, it is important to stress that this elliptical trajectory toward and circumferential trajectory around the object is certainly not the only path that a viewer might take, but it is the one that I am imagining for this viewer.

47



48

p o e tics a n d p lac e

When moving on an elliptical path toward the object in the first room, what at first appeared as a two-dimensional disc, referencing a circle, subsequently emerges as a three-dimensional form (see Fig. 1.6 below). (The emergent shape is less surprise than inevitability. Of course there is dimension, gravity, weight. Of course the object comes to fill its own shadow. The light catches her eye and holds it in its line. As she moves, these lines, too, move. With each step closer the striations – a rhythmic syncopation across the object’s surface – seem to widen. As she steps away, they stretch thin. She is captivated by this spectacle of mediation, this spectrum of wavelength, this object wrapping the room around itself.) Viewed in three dimensions, the object bears an iconic likeness to a truncated cone – a geometric composite of circle and cone – and the viewer recognises the object as such.4 Understood to refer to a truncated cone in the formal language of geometry, the object retains its geometric reference to a circle that was referenced by the viewer’s initial encounter with the object as a disc. The geometry of the truncated cone is another interpretation of the object’s symbolic-meaning.



Fig.1.6

View moving toward the object in first room of Pair Object III: For Two Rooms from Roni Horn, Things Which Happen Again, catalogue.



o b j e ct , si g n a n d p u n ct u ati n g s p ac e

Having approached the object on an elliptical path, I now imagine the viewer’s orbital path around it. Moving on this circumferential path, the fullness of the three-dimensional object is revealed (see Fig. 1.7 below). (The copper is so copper. The surface so smooth. The lines repeat and stretch across it like a watery vision through half-opened eyes. But how strange that the lines’ extent greets curvature. She would never have expected it…) The object from this perspective produces the view of a geometry similar to the truncated cone, but with a difference created as a result of it being slightly convex at the smaller end. The object is familiar (it looks like the truncated cone) but not utterly familiar (it has one slightly convex surface). This solicits the viewer to cultivate a specific recognition of what now appears to be an unfamiliar form. How can she go about doing so? Through the symbolic language of geometry, the viewer is first able to interpret the object in terms of a truncated cone (i.e. a composite of circle and cone). However, this geometry does not account for the slight convexity at the object’s smaller end. The viewer can nonetheless



Fig.1.7

View moving around the object in first room of Pair Object III: For Two Rooms from Roni Horn, Things Which Happen Again, catalogue.

49



50

p o e tics a n d p lac e

account for this further complexity by continuing to draw from the language of geometry; that is, by continuing to interpret the object in terms of its symbolic-meaning. Since the curved planar surface at the object’s far end would, when extended three-dimensionally, generate a sphere, the viewer can interpret the object as embodying a complex geometric form made up of circle, cone and sphere. Thus interpreting these further aspects of the object’s symbolic-meaning, the viewer cultivates a specific recognition of this three-dimensional object as embodying a truncated cone with one slightly convex surface (i.e. a composite of circle, cone and sphere). Importantly, throughout what I am imagining as the viewer’s elliptical path towards and circumferential trajectory around the object in the first room, other meanings aside from the symbolicmeanings of the object’s geometry have emerged. The fullness of this encounter with the object is physical. The point indicated by the initial point of vantage in the drawing is, in actuality, an embodied point of view. It is this body, this ‘eye’, that enters into the space, moves around the object and beholds its emerging shape. While engaging with the object, the embodied viewer perceives its material qualities, its copper colour and shine. The smooth metallic copper surface reflects the light conditions in the room and, as the viewer moves, indexes her shifting position in relation to the physical object as she moves towards and around it. Throughout this embodied engagement, the viewer’s perception of the object, as well as of the space, changes as characteristics of the object and of the space emerge in relation to the viewer. These emergent characteristics are specific to the viewer’s perception of the object throughout this enactment of it within a specific spatiotemporal location. Using Arthur Burks’ terminology – but with an understanding of indexicality understood in a material sense; that is, in the original sense as articulated by C.S. Peirce – the viewer performs an ‘indexicalmeaning’ specific to her experiential engagement with the physical object in situ.5 Concomitantly, she interprets the symbolic-meanings referenced by the object’s shape. This indexical-meaning, referencing the viewer’s experience of the object, would change depending on the viewer’s height, trajectory, speed as well as the specific material conditions (particularly the light conditions) of the space in the time



o b j e ct , si g n a n d p u n ct u ati n g s p ac e

of the viewer’s engagement. This indexical-meaning becomes intrinsic to the viewer’s cultivation of a specific recognition of this slightly unfamiliar object: she comes to recognise it, ultimately, as a truncated cone with one slightly convex surface that has a unique indexicalmeaning specific to her experience of it. Together, the symbolicmeaning of the object (a truncated cone with one slightly convex surface) and the indexical-meaning produced through the viewer’s performance of it (referencing her experience of the object as she moves toward and around it) generate an emergence of the object as a sign: an indexical symbol understood in the material sense. • I posit this complex sign, the indexical symbol understood in the material sense, as a basis for the sign in a material poetics and, therefore, the artworks throughout Poetics and Place.

The – Interval between A and A’ ‘If it is true that a spatial order organizes an ensemble of possibilities (e.g. by a place in which one can move) and interdictions (e.g. by a wall that prevents one from going further), then the walker actualises some of these possibilities,’ writes de Certeau. ‘In that way, he makes them exist as well as emerge’ (de Certeau 98). The spatial order of Pair Object III: For Two Rooms organises an ensemble of possibilities and interdictions including the threshold between the two rooms, contoured by the wall. The viewer, impelled to actualise this spatial possibility, would be inclined to break from her engagement with the object in the first room and move across the threshold into the second room, enacting the interval between. At this point I would like to pause. I would like to consider this enactment of the interval in terms of punctuating space. In M.B. Parkes’ extensive historical account of punctuation in the West entitled Pause and Effect: An Introduction to the History of Punctuation in the West (1992), he defines punctuation as a pragmatics of the text.6 Parkes argues: ‘By invoking behavioural experience punctuation becomes a feature of the “pragmatics” of the written medium’ (Parkes 2). Parkes likens punctuation to those pragmatic elements of spoken language that contribute to a message in ‘various ways both linguistic and paralinguistic – such as a repertoire of

51



52

p o e tics a n d p lac e

intonations, or gestures and facial expressions – which can be employed because an interlocutor is present’ (Parkes 2). Punctuation is not, itself, part of the actual system of signs of which language is comprised; however, punctuation affects the generation and interpretation of a verbal message through contouring its delivery. Historically, argues Parkes, marks of punctuation have been developed in relation to the conventional rules of grammar and syntax. Punctuation contours reading – and, by implication, thought – in keeping with the rules of logical sentence structure and dictum. Parkes offers the following example of how the conventional ‘period’ (or full stop) is linked to the expression of a ‘complete idea’: The end of a period – wherein a complete idea is expressed, and which must be able to be expressed in one breath – must end with a welldefined rhythmical pattern so that the reader would be aware that a pause is required between one grouping of a connected thought and another. This pause would allow for an interval wherein the reader or listener could give proper attention to the group. (Parkes 66)

We can compare this with the writing of feminist philosopher Catherine Clément who, in Syncope: A Philosophy of Rapture (1990), contends that ‘[p]erhaps one of the problems of thinking is that it cannot stop. On this point, form is crucial. Breaking punctuation … open[s] a space for silence, for blankness, and…leave[s] a gap for the reader’s – or listener’s – fantasy to slip in’ (Clément 83). Both accounts of punctuation, by Parkes and Clément, open up an interval, but with differing effects. Whereas punctuation, in keeping with the rules of grammar or syntax in Parkes’ account, allows the space and time for one to grasp a ‘complete thought’, Clément is concerned with punctuation as a rupture, syncopating logical thought. Clément’s argument thus suggests the possibility of a ‘poetic’ practice of punctuation: one that draws attention to the message itself and, in doing so, opens up a space for silence, blankness and fantasy – this rather than enabling a smooth transmission of thought. Given that de Certeau likens the walker’s movement to the speech act, it follows that there exists a punctuation of spatial practice. For example, a wall prevents one from going forward, grounding movement to a ‘full stop’. A door acts like a ‘comma’, connecting two spaces together. And a bridge functions like a ‘dash’ – cutting across space. In



o b j e ct , si g n a n d p u n ct u ati n g s p ac e

these instances, architectural elements act as punctuation marks that contour movement in keeping with the normative syntax of a spatial or architectural order. This is not unlike Parkes’ historical account of how punctuation marks have been developed in keeping with rules of grammar or syntax. However, movement can, itself, punctuate spatial relations – and deviantly so. De Certeau himself alludes to this when he states that ‘every walk constantly leaps, or skips like a child, hopping on one foot. It practices the ellipsis of conjunctive loci’ (de Certeau 101). Here movement itself, or, more precisely, one’s particular enactment of movement (leaping, skipping, hopping) practices punctuation, rather than an architectural element serving as a mark of punctuation. To leap, skip or hop practices the ‘ellipsis of conjunctive loci’: the loci are points in the progression of the forward trajectory and the ellipsis (the leap, skip and hop) marks a ‘deviant’ punctuating motion upward – an ellipsis ‘filled’ by one’s momentary defiance of the laws of gravity and inevitable fall back to earth. I liken these deviant acts of punctuating space to Clément’s description of punctuation as rupture, syncopating logical syntax and, therefore, thought. It follows that an embodied spatial practice of punctuation is intrinsic to one’s enactment of place: in practising place, we punctuate space. In doing so, we often move in keeping with the syntax of a given place. However, our movements can potentially create different alignments, instigate other ways of thinking, and develop alternative relationships and connections between things that are not necessarily in keeping with the normative syntax of a given spatial order. In other words, space can become a poetic practice of place. Crucially, because this practice is embodied, it imbues these spatial alignments, these spaces, with a material meaning amidst the codified syntax of a spatial order. Space, then, becomes a material poetic practice of place. Relating this back to Pair Object III: For Two Rooms, I now suggest that a ‘gap’ or ‘interval’ exists not only between the two rooms, indicated architecturally by the threshold between them, but also between the viewer and the objects, as well as between the objects themselves. Opened through the viewer’s enactment of the artwork, this becomes a space of movement and of contact: a ‘gap’ or ‘interval’ filled with material, indexical meaning that, as will become evident, contributes to the overall meaning of Horn’s artwork.

53



54

p o e tics a n d p lac e

A’: Narrative of Second Encounter Positioned at the point of vantage for the second room (Room A’), a viewer would still be able to see the object in the first room while simultaneously viewing the object in the second room thus as in Fig. 1.8 below. As with one’s initial encounter with the object in the first room, the object in the second room is initially seen as a disc. This disc appears to be identical to the object as initially encountered in the first room, and shares with it the same symbolic-meaning of a geometric circle. This encounter with the object in the second room recalls for the viewer her encounter with the object in the first. (It too, seemed to float in the space, staring at her with its coppercoloured eye. It too, had a line of light like a crosshair across the object’s surface. However, she recalls how differently the shadow of the first object shaped the floor and how the light was more dispersed in the object’s surface. Perhaps it was the daylight from the window in the first room that caused the effect?) Like the object first encountered as a disc in the first room, the object here encountered as a disc solicits the viewer to enact its symbolic-



Fig.1.8

View of object in second room of Pair Object III: For Two Rooms from initial point of vantage of second room from Roni Horn, Things Which Happen Again, catalogue.



o b j e ct , si g n a n d p u n ct u ati n g s p ac e

meaning through a circumferential path around it. However, as was the case with the object in the first room, architectural constraints dictate the need to move, initially, on an elliptical path toward and then into a circumferential trajectory around the object. Moving toward the object in the second room on an elliptical path, the viewer loses sight of the first object, so severing the indexical relation between her body – her eye – and the first object. Meanwhile, as she moves toward the object in the second room, it reveals itself to be a three-dimensional shape (see Fig.1.9 below). The object from this vantage again appears identical to the object in the first room and shares with the object in the first room the symbolic-meaning of a geometric circle and, now, a truncated cone. The objects appear identical, although the viewer knows that this is not the object in the first room: the object behind the wall. Nevertheless, this object in the second room recalls for the viewer her experience in the first room, moving toward and around the object. (But was she standing further away? The scale of the object seems bigger here. Did the object in the first room have that same rhythm to its lucid striation of stripes?)



Fig.1.9

View moving toward object in second room of Pair Object III: For Two Rooms from Roni Horn, Things Which Happen Again, catalogue.

55



56

p o e tics a n d p lac e



Fig.1.10

View moving around object in second room of Pair Object III: For Two Rooms from Roni Horn, Things Which Happen Again, catalogue.

Moving into the circumferential trajectory around the object in the second room, the viewer encounters the fullness of this threedimensional object (see Fig.1.10 below). While the viewer remains cognisant that this object in the second room is not the object in the first, the object fully revealed nevertheless appears to be identical to the object in the first room: it is made from copper, machine-finished, of the same dimensions. It shares the symbolic-meaning of the truncated cone with one slightly convex surface. Moreover, the viewer’s experience of the object in the second room, which is similar to the first, recalls for her that first experience. (But the threshold in the first room – it made a different composition to the spatial order. And she seems to remember the black shadow-line on the underside of the object being much more dense.) Through Horn’s act of doubling identical objects, the object in the second room comes to symbolise the object in the first room and the viewer’s experience of it. In doing so, it develops what the linguist Émile Benveniste terms the ‘symbolic faculty’ in his essay ‘A Look at the Development of Linguistics’ (1962). Benveniste defines this as ‘the faculty of representing the real by a “sign” and of understanding



o b j e ct , si g n a n d p u n ct u ati n g s p ac e

the “sign” as representing the real – the faculty, then, of establishing a relation of “signification” between one thing and another’ (Benveniste, ‘Look’ 21). The viewer is thus able to conceive of the object in the first room and her experience of it by comparing the object in the second room with the object in the first and identifying characteristic features of the first object in this different context. In this sense, the viewer’s movement into the second room and her encounter with the second object therein enacts a shift into a symbolising domain. It is this crucial shift that distinguishes Horn’s artwork from minimalist sculpture, to which it otherwise bears a striking resemblance. In his essay ‘Specific Objects’ (1965), Donald Judd argues that minimalist sculpture (for example, that of Judd himself, as well as Robert Morris and Carl Andre, to name a few) is made of industrial materials such as plastic, steel and copper. Horn’s object is made of such material. Judd then argues that, with the minimalist specific object, ‘[t]he thing as a whole, its quality as a whole, is what is interesting…In the new work the shape, image, color and surface are single and not partial and scattered’ ( Judd 813). Horn’s object also displays these qualities of the minimalist specific object. Elsewhere, in ‘Notes on Sculpture 1–3’ (1966), Robert Morris describes the ‘simplicity’ of the minimalist object, which inheres in the way in which relationships are taken ‘out of the work’ to become a function of ‘space, light, and the viewer’s field of vision’ (Morris, ‘Notes’ 818) – the same can be said of Horn’s object. And, Morris argues, ‘[t]he experience of the work [of minimalist sculpture] necessarily exists in time’ (Morris, ‘Notes’ 818), as does one’s experience of Horn’s artwork. Ultimately, for Morris, one’s engagement with the minimalist object cultivates a perceptual Gestalt where the narrativity of one’s physical engagement with the object over time is condensed into a perceptual phenomenon. Arguably, the encounter with the object in the first room of Horn’s Pair Object III: For Two Rooms does also. However, Horn’s artwork does something different as a result of her employment of the two identical objects, one in each room. By means of this duplicity and locatedness, a viewer’s perceptual experience of the object in the first room is not replete. Instead, it is coupled with a concept of it that is symbolised by the object in the second room. In this sense, the meaning of Horn’s artwork does not inhere in a singular object and

57



58

p o e tics a n d p lac e

the viewer’s relation to it; rather, it inheres between the two identical objects and the viewer’s enactment of this relation. Ultimately, the viewer’s enactment of the spatial narrative in Pair Object III: For Two Rooms thus couples a perception of the object with a concept of it, extending Horn’s artwork – and the language of minimalist sculpture – into what I call a ‘symbolising domain’. What are the implications of this shift into a symbolising domain? Horn herself alludes to this when she says: …in Piece for Two Rooms you go into a space and see a simple disk. It doesn’t look like much: it isn’t, until you walk in and see that it is a threedimensional cone-shaped object which is familiar but has certain subtle formal qualities which make it different, which take away from it being familiar. It becomes memorable. Then you go into the next room and enact exactly the same experience, but of course it’s unexpected and it’s so many minutes later; it’s a slightly younger experience in your life. Whereas when you walked into the first room, you had the experience of something unique, you can’t have that a second time. (Horn, ‘Cooke’ 20)

Horn suggests that through the viewer’s encounter with the identical object in the second room she loses ‘the experience of something unique’ that she had in her encounter with the object in the first room. It would seem that with this shift into the second room, and what I have called a symbolising domain, something is gained (the symbolising faculty) and something is lost (the unique first experience). That said, I propose that, rather than the ‘loss’ of the first unique experience, one’s engagement with the object in the second room actually generates another – equally unique – experience. Moving on an elliptical path towards and a circumferential trajectory around the object in the second room, the viewer experiences the object in the second room, just as she had the object in the first room, as unique. Because the objects are identical, the two experiences may be similar; however, the time of her experience of this object in the second room is different, the space is different, the light conditions are different and the viewer – moments after her encounter with the first object – is, herself, different. All of this combines to make the experience of the object in the second room unique, and as meaningful as her experience with the object in the first room. For, as was the case with the viewer’s enactment



o b j e ct , si g n a n d p u n ct u ati n g s p ac e

of the object in the first room, here in the second room the object emerges as an indexical symbol: one that shares an iconic likeness and the same symbolic-meaning with the object in the first room, but differs in terms of its indexical-meaning, which now refers to this unique experience of the object in the second room. This means that, when comparing the object in the second room with the object in the first, the viewer is able to identify characteristics that the object in the second room holds in common with the object in the first room, concluding that the objects share the same symbolic-meaning and are identical. However, the object in the second room not only solicits a comparison between the objects’ formal geometries and iconicities, it also solicits a comparison of their indexical-meanings. Each experience is unique, and the viewer compares the objects in the two rooms based on these two unique experiences. It is an act of comparison between two indexical symbols that generates the viewer’s recognition of the object in the second room as a sign of the object, and her experience of it, in the first. The viewer’s engagement with the object in the second room is thus a shift into an ‘indexical symbolising domain’. How does the viewer make this act of comparison between the indexical-meanings of the object in the second room and the object in the first? In other words, how are meanings generated in this indexical symbolising domain? The viewer in the second room is, herself, different. Having had the unique experience of the object in the first room, she can draw upon this when engaging with the object in the second. This is key. Throughout the viewer’s encounter with the object in the first room, the object referred, indexically, to the ‘now’ of the viewer’s performance. It did so through the light’s reflection on the object, which changed depending on the shifting position of the viewer’s body in relation to the fixed object throughout the duration of the performance, thereby generating its unique indexicalmeaning. With the object in the second room, the indexical-meaning referencing the viewer’s enactment of the object shifts to the present moment of the viewer’s engagement with this object, or the ‘now’ of the viewer’s performance of the object in the second room. At the same time, the indexical-meaning of the viewer’s experience with the object in the first room shifts its reference to ‘then.’ Comparing

59



60

p o e tics a n d p lac e

the indexical meanings of the objects in the first and second room, a comparison solicited by the object in the second room that indexically-symbolises the object and the viewer’s experience of it in the first room, the viewer draws from her previous experience. That is, the viewer compares her experience of the object in the second room, occurring ‘now’, with the memory of her experience of the object in the first room, which occurred ‘then’. The shifting referentiality of the indexical symbol’s material indexical-meaning compounds the symbolic-meaning generated by the object’s repetition (i.e. its symbolic reference to the object in the first room and the viewer’s performance of it) with an overlay of the ‘now’ and the ‘then’ of the viewer’s experience of each object in a respective spatiotemporal location, given the specific material conditions of each room, as well as the specificity of the viewer’s embodied engagement with the object therein. The emergence of the sign, an indexical symbol understood in the material sense, thus becomes a means whereby the physical experience of the viewer’s present performance, ‘now’, is duplicated in the mind with the memory of her past performance, ‘then’: a duplication of two similar, but unique, experiences that becomes the basis for an act of comparison and, thus, for understanding. So while, for Horn, the encounter with the object in the second room suggests the ‘loss’ of a unique experience, I propose that it in fact suggests the gaining of a unique second experience. And although the first unique experience is lost, it is lost only to memory, where a trace of it – meaningfully – remains. Re-viewing the Plan: Space and the Situation of Discourse I have generated a drawing based on Horn’s floor plan (see Fig. 1.11 below) depicting what I have imagined to be a viewer’s enactment of Pair Object III: For Two Rooms. In this drawing, I am using what I intend to be read as a punctuation mark, a comma, to represent the viewer’s elliptical trajectory towards and circumferential trajectory around the objects in each room. I am using a black comma to represent a viewer’s enactment of the object in the second room (Room A’), while I am using a broken black comma to represent the viewer’s memory of her enactment of the object in the first room





o b j e ct , si g n a n d p u n ct u ati n g s p ac e

Fig.1.11

Pair Object III: For Two Rooms with viewer’s dash between two rooms, enacted symbolic-trajectory around object in second room and memory of enacted symbolic-trajectory around object in first room: Kristen Kreider, drawing (2006) incorporating Roni Horn, floor plan from Things Which Happen Again, catalogue.

(Room A). Meanwhile, I am representing a viewer’s movement between the two rooms by what I intend to be read as another punctuation mark, a dash.7 Compare this drawing with the initial drawing in Fig.1.4 representing the artwork’s spatial order: the artwork as a place potentially enacted by an embodied viewer – and place, we recall, is analogically related to Saussure’s langue or language as a system of signs. There, the two objects were related geometrically by two overlapping circles. In contrast, the drawing in Fig.1.11 represents a viewer’s embodied enactment of the artwork; that is, her practice of place. Keeping in mind de Certeau’s definition of space as a practiced place, we can appreciate that the drawing in Fig.1.11 represents the artwork as a space actualised by the peripatetic viewer – and space, we recall, is analogically related to Saussure’s parole, or the enactment of language through speech. Here, the two objects are related by the viewer’s movement around and between the object in each room. Through this movement, as I have suggested, the two objects emerge as signs: indexical symbols understood in the material sense. We can thus appreciate that the

61



62

p o e tics a n d p lac e

objects in the diagram above are related both phenomenologically and semiotically through a viewer’s embodied spatial practice. This drawing represents my theoretical argument concerning an emergence of a sign, an indexical symbol understood in the material sense, through an imagined enactment of Roni Horn’s Pair Object III: For Two Rooms. In the signifying system I am using to make this drawing, the comma is a sign that signifies an indexical symbol understood in the material sense. I add to this that the comma drawn with a black line is a sign signifying an indexical symbol whose indexical-meaning is located in one specific spatiotemporal location (Room A’), while the comma drawn with a dotted black line is a sign signifying an indexical symbol whose indexicalmeaning is located in another (Room A). The two commas in this drawing each share an iconic likeness; they are both commas. As signs that signify as the indexical symbol, they both share the same symbolic-meaning of the indexical symbol. However, they each have a different indexical-meaning because they are located in a different space and time, each in a room with specific material conditions. The unbroken and broken lines, respectively, are signs that signify these different indexical-meanings.8 The two commas are identical except for the differing quality of the line, broken or unbroken, as well as their position, whether or not they are tilted and to what degree, that make these two lines different, and signifies that they are each unique. I conclude by reading Fig. 1.11 analogically; that is, working with de Certeau’s analogy between spatial practice and speech. In this reading, the two commas in my drawing above represent two indexical symbols, each with a unique indexical-meaning, that are related through an embodied spatial practice or, by analogy, speech. Following this analogy, and introducing Benveniste’s theory of discursive subjectivity that I outlined in the Introduction, I propose to consider the two commas in the drawing above as a representation of two speaking subjects, ‘I’ and ‘you’, in a situation of discourse – and, as we saw in my discussion of Burks as well as Roman Jakobson in the Introduction, the ‘I’ and the ‘you’ are indexical symbols in the grammatical sense. The diagram above therefore represents two indexical symbols in the material sense



o b j e ct , si g n a n d p u n ct u ati n g s p ac e

connected through embodied spatial practice and, by analogy, two indexical symbols in the grammatical sense (‘I’ and ‘you’) connected through speech, whereby they accrue a unique material indexical-meaning. • I posit this complex sign, the indexical symbol understood both in a grammatical and material sense, as a basis for the subject in a material poetics and, therefore, the artworks throughout Poetics and Place.

With this I move into my more subjective engagements with the artworks in subsequent chapters. Positioning the artworks as ‘I’ and myself as their site of reception, ‘you’, I draw out the coded and contextual meanings of each artwork as well as the meanings generated through their material poetics. Through this I offer – and allow others to grasp – an appreciation of how each artwork figures meaningfully, as well as configures meaning, in the wider world of objects and things. I begin with a close engagement with Emily Dickinson’s later manuscripts, understanding each page as a site for Dickinson’s creative, and my critical, writing.

63



2



The Page as Site: A Creative and Critical Performance of Emily Dickinson’s Later Manuscripts

Throughout her writing life, Emily Dickinson developed her poetry through various stages of drafting and forms of self-publication. R. W. Franklin, editor of both The Manuscript Books of Emily Dickinson (1981) and The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson: Variorum Edition (1998), offers the diagram in Fig. 2.1 (below) denoting the different stages in Dickinson’s writing process ([X], [Y ] and [Z]) and the means whereby she either archived or publicised her materials (A, B, C, D, E, F and G). Franklin describes how Dickinson would initiate a work by writing words, phrases, and even whole drafts of a poem on odds and ends of paper in a quick, dashed hand, [X]. Using what Dickinson scholars refer to as her ‘fair copy’ hand or script, Dickinson would then transcribe the poems on these ‘worksheets’ onto sheets of notebook paper, what Franklin calls ‘intermediate drafts’ [Y ]. These copies were then either sent to friends in the form of letters and correspondence, A, or retained, B. If retained, they were placed into what Franklin calls Dickinson’s ‘fascicles’ or ‘sets’, C.1 Once in the fascicles and sets, again the copies would either be sent, D, or the versions retained, E. However, Dickinson often continued to revisit poems, [Z], noting changes and alternate word choices/phrasing with a small mark corresponding to ‘variants’ beyond the actual poetic boundary. These revised versions would then, again, be sent, F, or retained, G. While Dickinson sent copies of her poems to others through correspondence with family and friends, she chose never to publish her poetry in print.2 In Rowing in Eden (1992), literary critic Martha Nell Smith suggests that Dickinson’s choice not to print reveals an awareness of the reader’s participation in the construction of meaning in her poems, whereas ‘print reproductions often erase significant 64

th e p a g e as sit e



Fig.2.1

Diagram of Dickinson’s writing process from R.W. Franklin, ed., The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Variorum Edition.

textual experimentation directed toward prospective readers and their performances’ (Smith 13). The majority of posthumous publications of Dickinson’s poetry would appear to enact such an erasure, with one exception being Franklin’s The Manuscript Books of Emily Dickinson (1981).3 These volumes present all of the poems included in Dickinson’s fascicles and sets in facsimile form, giving readers a sense of the materially specific and process-based nature of Dickinson’s poetic composition.4 And yet, absent from these three volumes of Dickinson’s manuscripts are the poems and poetic fragments in which Dickinson abandoned the process of transcription and binding/grouping altogether, leaving the pages in their ‘worksheet’ state, as she did after 1875. These later manuscript pages do appear elsewhere, in Franklin’s The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson: Variorum Edition, an extremely ambitious and invaluable endeavour for Dickinson scholarship in which Franklin collates each and every bit of Dickinson’s poetic writing, poems and poetic fragments alike. In his introduction to this collection Franklin quotes one of the first editors of Dickinson’s poetry, Mabel Loomis Todd, who refers to the later manuscripts as ‘scraps’: ‘a profusion of shapes, sizes and materials, from brown paper sacks and used envelopes to notebook pages and the backs of recipes’ (Todd cited in Franklin, ‘Introduction’ Variorum ix–x). Franklin then goes on to describe how the physicality of the page in these later manuscripts influenced Dickinson’s writing practice and resulting poetics:

65



66

p o e tics a n d p lac e

Available space ordinarily determined the physical line breaks in Dickinson’s poems…Constraints such as the edges of the paper, the presence of a boss, stains or imperfections, or the overlaps of envelope construction would redirect her pencil or pen. The shapes of her materials – odds and ends of wrapping paper, advertising flyers, notebook leaves, discarded stationary – gave physical contour to her poems as they went onto paper. (Franklin 34)

There is, then, an inherent relationship between the physical quality of Dickinson’s later manuscript pages and her writing practice; however, as readers of the Variorum Edition, we are allowed only indirect access to this poetic particularity. For in this collection, unlike The Manuscript Books, Franklin typesets and prints all of the poetic materials in keeping with the poetic convention of a quatrain or ‘hymn’ metre, the form most widely attributed to Dickinson’s verse. He then envelopes each poem or poem fragment within a complex editorial apparatus recording archival details as well as the specific material qualities of each page/poem. A reader of Franklin’s Variorum Edition is thus offered a sense of the intricacies and idiosyncrasies inherent in Dickinson’s later manuscripts, as well as how these affect the architectonics of her verse, albeit insofar as such details are received through the editor’s verbal description and codification of them. More recently, the editor and Dickinson scholar Marta Werner has worked specifically with the later manuscripts to generate an extensive online archive, Radical Scatters: An Electronic Archive of Dickinson’s Late Fragments and Related Texts (1999).5 The apotheosis of Werner’s editorial engagement with Dickinson thus far, Radical Scatters gathers together over 100 scanned images of Dickinson’s fragmentary later texts in an effort, Werner claims, to encourage investigation of Dickinson’s compositional process as well as the play between autonomy and intertextuality inherent in her later work.6 Evocatively, Werner says this of Dickinson’s later manuscripts: ‘Linked to what is in transit, disappearing, [the fragments] resemble fingerprints, the light touches of the artist who, having submitted fully to the process of writing and constantly reaching new decisions, no longer thinks of finishing any particular text’ (Werner, ‘Most Arrows’ 42). Fragile and unique, the later manuscripts are a trace of

th e p a g e as sit e

the poet-in-process and we, as readers of Radical Scatters, are able to encounter this trace of Dickinson – albeit through the interface of the computer screen. In response to the editorial projects of both Franklin and Werner I began to wonder how one could read Dickinson’s later manuscripts in relation to the visual, spatial and material aspects of the pages and what (else) they might say as a result. This instigated my desire for a first-hand engagement with the manuscripts. Intent on such an experience, I wrote to the Dickinson Archive at Amherst College in Massachusetts for permission to view the manuscripts.7 I included in my letter of request to the Dickinson Archive the following passage from art historian and theorist Hubert Damisch’s A Theory of /Cloud/: Toward a History of Painting (1972) wherein he describes the different elements that comprise what he calls ‘scriptural space’: Even before tackling the literal meaning of a written text, reading is guided by a whole collection of marks that manifest the fact that the text belongs to the space in which it is inscribed and that this inscription constitutes and produces in the guise of a scriptural space. Some of those marks … depend, either directly or indirectly, upon the system of phonetic notation and so belong to the order of signs; others correspond, rather, to the order of inscription … which is not solely linear: the disposition of words on the page, the arrangement of the lines and possibly of the paragraphs, the margins, and so on – not to mention features that may be described as external, such as the quality of the handwriting, the nature of the material upon which it appears, the format, the grain, and so on, and all that requires to be read ‘between the lines’. (Damisch 102–3, emphasis mine)

Reflective of his overall agenda in A Theory of /Cloud/, which is to develop a semiotics of the painted image, Damisch calls particular attention to the visual and material properties of a written text as these manifest through the act of inscription and its consequent reception. As I stated in my letter to the archivists in Amherst, these are the very properties of Dickinson’s later manuscript pages with which I sought to engage, allowing them to guide my reading just as Dickinson had allowed them to guide her writing. Thankfully, the letter was successful and I was granted permission to do so.

67



68

p o e tics a n d p lac e

Suggestively, Damisch’s emphasis on the embodied acts of inscription and reception in his definition of scriptural space resonates with Michel de Certeau’s theory of spatial practice, discussed in the previous chapter. De Certeau’s definition and exemplars of space suggest that the spaces of reading and writing are produced through embodied spatial practices, physically acting out or performing the material aspects of a particular spatial order or place.8 Aligning Damisch and de Certeau, scriptural space – such as that of Dickinson’s later manuscripts – can be defined as an embodied space of writing or inscription as well as, reciprocally, an embodied space of reading or reception. Here one acts out the spatial order or ‘place’ of the page including, crucially, those elements deemed external, such as the visual aspects of the spatial order and material qualities of both sign and substrate. I propose to consider this enactment of the ‘place’ of the page in terms of a mode of site-specific practice, as defined by critic and performance theorist Nick Kaye in Site-Specific Art: Performance, Place and Documentation (2000). Here Kaye bases his conception of site-specific art on performativity, thereby distinguishing it from other definitions of site-specificity that presume a necessary relationship between an artwork and its physical location.9 Citing de Certeau’s definition, ‘space is a practiced place’ (de Certeau 117), Kaye articulates an ‘underlying concept of “site” (Kaye 3) that has more to do with the performance of place than with ‘any given or particular kind of place’ (Kaye 3). This ‘transitive’ definition of site, as Kaye calls it, feeds into his definition of site-specificity as ‘a working over of the production, definition and performance of “place”’ (Kaye 3). I find Kaye’s definition crucial for any understanding of sitespecificity in relation to creative practices that utilise linguistic text. This is because the linguistic meaning of any text lies inherently in a coded or formal system of signs regardless of physical location. With Kaye’s definition of site-specificity, however, we can appreciate that although linguistic meaning per se is not specific to any particular place or location, the acts of generating and receiving a verbal message are specific to the given spatiotemporal location in which these acts are performed. In other words, it is the performance of speaking and listening, writing and reading a linguistic text that is specific to site. Relating this back to the definition of scriptural space above,

th e p a g e as sit e

we can appreciate that the embodied spatial practices – or, in Kaye’s terminology, ‘performances’ – that produce scriptural spaces (i.e. the acts of inscription and reception) are specific to a particular site. In the case of Dickinson’s manuscripts, this suggests that each page can be considered a site for her writerly – and another’s readerly – performance. In relation to my engagement with these manuscripts, this suggests that each page is a site for both Dickinson’s creative and my critical writing performance. Discussions in contemporary poetry and poetics suggest how this performance of the page as a site is capable of generating meaningful relationships between a written text and its referential context, organised through spatial syntax. In his book The Role of the Reader (1979), semiotician Umberto Eco writes that ‘[e]very reception of a work of art is both an interpretation and a performance of it because in every reception the work takes on a fresh perspective for itself ’ (Eco 49). More recently, Language poet and theorist Lyn Hejinian has drawn from this formulation of Eco’s poetics of the open work in her essay ‘The Rejection of Closure’ (2000) when, emphasising the active process of writing and reception, she suggests how this ‘opens’ language up to its context. ‘Language itself is never in a state of rest,’ Hejinian writes. ‘Its syntax can be as complex as thought. And the experience of using it, which includes the experience of understanding it, either as speech or as writing, is inevitably active – both intellectually and emotionally’ (Hejinian 50). Through this active process of engaging with language, the contiguous syntax of a spoken or written text takes on a different spatiality and temporality for Hejinian: ‘The meaning of a word in its place derives both from the word’s lateral reach, its contacts with its neighbors in a statement, and from its reach through and out of the text into the outer world, the matrix of its contemporary and historical reference’ (Hejinian 50). On this point Hejinian’s argument resonates with her contemporary Barrett Watten, also a Language poet and theorist. Writing in Total Syntax (1985), Watten suggests that syntax relates meaning or ‘total sense’ to the organisation of linguistic elements; however, he does not limit this understanding of syntax to the temporal sequence of words – what can be compared to ‘the word’s lateral reach’ in Hejinian’s argument. Instead, like Hejinian, Watten understands that interpretation demands context and that statements

69



70

p o e tics a n d p lac e

are made up not only of an organisation of linguistic elements, but also elements of what he calls their ‘possible contexts’ (Watten 65). He then writes: ‘Syntax has a spatial dimension, if space is taken in the broadest sense to be not only physical but cultural and linguistic’ (Watten 65). Together, these discussions from contemporary poetry and poetics suggest that through the experience of using and understanding language – what I would call the ‘performance’ of speaking or writing – a message opens into its referential context through a metonymic operation. We can use the term ‘spatial syntax’ to refer to the organisation of these meaningful relationships. It follows that, if we consider the acts of creative writing and critical reading in terms of a performance of the page as a site, these performances open a verbal message to its referential context, organising this meaningfully through spatial syntax. I am, however, interested not only in how the verbal message of an artwork extends into its referential context, but also in how the material quality of a verbal message – including that of both the message’s sign and substrate – relates meaningfully to the world of objects and things or, as I have called it, the artwork’s material context.10 I shall use the term ‘material spatial syntax’ to refer to the organisation of these meaningful material and spatial relationships. With this in mind, I turn to my specific engagement with five of Dickinson’s later manuscripts, critically performing the page as a site. My ‘site-writing’, to use the term and method developed by art and architecture critic Jane Rendell, is structured around an intimate engagement with each page.11 What meanings emerge through a sustained engagement with the visual, spatial and material properties of each page in relation to their verbal message? How does this sustained engagement relate the verbal message to aspects of the linguistic code through a metaphoric operation, aspects of its referential context through a metonymic operation (organised through spatial syntax) and aspects of its material context through an indexical relation (organised through material spatial syntax)? How does this engagement span the distance and difference between the poet-in-process in one spatiotemporal context and myself in another, critically engaging with the traces of Dickinson’s script? How does this, in turn, cultivate an embodied subjective relationship between ‘I’ and ‘you’?

th e p a g e as sit e

­Scrap

12

A112, A385/386, A856 [Franklin 1599]: ‘A sloop of amber slips away’ AL. Pencil draft for last line on fragment of wrapping paper. Fr. MANUSCRIPTS: Three (one in part), variant, about 1883, in pencil. One is a trial for the last line, jotted on a scrap of wrapping paper (A112) – p.1402.13



Fig.2.2



Fig.2.3

Emily Dickinson, ‘A Woe of Ecstasy’, poetic fragment of ‘A sloop of amber slips away’ (Ms. A112, recto) from Emily Dickinson Archive.

Emily Dickinson, ‘A Woe of Ecstasy’, poetic fragment of ‘A sloop of amber slips away’ (Ms. A112, verso) from Emily Dickinson Archive.

71



72

p o e tics a n d p lac e

The Dickinson Archive at the Amherst Library describes manuscript A112 as a ‘pencil draft for last line on fragment of wrapping paper’ (Dickinson Ms. A112). The use of the term ‘fragment’ here is suggestive for a reading of this manuscript. In an essay entitled ‘On Fragments and Fragmentation’ (1980) literary critic Paul Ray argues that the fragment can be understood in terms of spatial synchronicity in contrast to the temporality of narrative construction. Through the course of his argument, Ray writes: ‘a pure fragment is unimaginable. It exists only by virtue of the whole of which it is a shard’ (Ray 224). With this in mind I note, firstly, the fragmentation manifest at letter-level in Manuscript A112 (see Fig. 2.4 below). Here in the manuscript one finds three seemingly disconnected gestural lines, each the fragment of a letter. Across the small gap of the page, I make sense of these lines, one as a letter ‘t’ and one as a ‘y’, when interpreting them in relation to their wider context, the word ‘ecstasy’. This splintering in the scripted word extends into the even wider context of the manuscript itself. The manuscript is both a page and poetic fragment, the former because it is a scrap of paper cut from a larger sheet, and the latter because this scripted line is actually a fragment of the ‘whole’ poem, ‘A sloop of amber slips away’. This poem appears in A386, A836 and in the transcription of the poem by Mabel Loomis Todd in A836a (all below). The fact that these other manuscripts evidence a re-drafting process means that A112 falls into the class of what Franklin calls a Dickinson ‘worksheet’, a part or fragment of her poetic process overall. How can we begin to interpret the meaning of the phrase ‘A Woe of Ecstasy’ in manuscript A112? I begin by looking at the handwriting. A112 is scripted in Dickinson’s rough copy hand. In her introductory essay to Emily Dickinson’s Open Folios entitled ‘Lost Events: Toward a Poetics of Reading Emily Dickinson’s



Fig.2.4

The word ‘Ecstasy’ cropped from Emily Dickinson, ‘A Woe of Ecstasy’ (Ms. 112, verso) from Emily Dickinson Archive.

th e p a g e as sit e

Late Writings’, Werner describes Dickinson’s style of writing in the rough copies as ‘a way of writing in speaking … [a] “hearing” of what demands to be written even before one’s thoughts have been ordered’ (Werner 21). Werner thus implies that the rough copy script demonstrates a stage in Dickinson’s poetic process where thought emerges through an attentiveness to that which is ‘heard’ in the mind. Elsewhere, in ‘“Most Arrows”: Autonomy and Intertextuality in Emily Dickinson’s Late Fragments’, Werner specifically describes the temporality of Dickinson’s process: Composed in neither the past nor the future tense but in what might be called the process tense, many of [the fragments] reveal the kinesthetics of writing-as-dictation, the inscription of energeia, in which the hand that has begun to move across the page is seized and directed by an unknown agency, an other who, as Dickinson wrote, ‘comes’ and ‘over takes the mind’ (‘Most Arrows’ 46–47).

Werner’s interpretation of Dickinson’s scriptural practice resonates, for me, with poet and theorist Denise Riley’s more general discussion of the act of composing poetry, and particularly lyric poetry, in The Words of Selves: Identification, Solidarity, Irony (2000): ‘Poetry in its composing is an inrush of others’ voices. Words crowd in uninvited, regardless of sense,’ argues Riley (Riley 65–66). This exemplifies, for Riley, the notion of ‘thought being made in the ear’ (Riley 66), whereupon she writes: ‘Sound runs on alone, well ahead of the writer’s tactics’ (Riley 66) and, later, that the act of writing is ‘in practice a febrile “being written” which seems to turn halfmechanically on the very stuff, the active materiality, of words’ (Riley 67). Riley’s argument throughout Words of Selves suggests that poetic composition is, effectively, an act of listening to a maddening crowd of voices, harnessing its resounding material quality into thought, thereby amalgamating the ‘inrush of others’ voices’ into the poet’s ‘own’ and, ultimately, formalising this into the speech of the lyric ‘I’. Bringing this discussion of Werner and Riley to an appreciation of A112, I suggest that this manuscript demonstrates a stage in Dickinson’s process where there is not (yet) an ordering or control over thought: where the poet is overwhelmed by an ‘inrush of others’ voices’ and overwritten by the ‘active materiality’ of words. There is

73



74

p o e tics a n d p lac e

no lyric form here (yet), nor the ‘I’ with what Riley describes as its ‘simulacrum of control under the guise of form’ (Riley 66). Instead, there is only a fragment: ‘A Woe of Ecstasy.’ I thus interpret the phrase ‘A Woe of Ecstasy’ to mean an emotional state accompanying the poetic process with its inrush of others’ voices and lack of a unified sense of self.14 This is the mindset of the poet-in-process amidst an overwhelming polyphony of voice. How else does Dickinson’s script contribute to an understanding of the phrase ‘A Woe of Ecstasy’? To answer this, I draw attention to two manuscripts that contain the full poem ‘A sloop of amber slips away’ (A386, A836), of which the phrase ‘A Woe of Ecstasy’ is a poetic fragment. I first offer a description of the two manuscripts, followed by a close reading of the phrase ‘A Woe of Ecstacy’ as it appears – or does not appear – in the scriptural spaces of each of the three manuscripts A112, A386 and A836. In A386, Dickinson has transcribed the entire poem ‘A sloop of amber slips away’ on a single page along with the poem ‘The clock strikes one’ (A385) (see Fig.2.5 below).15 Dickinson’s fair copy script here indicates that the poems have been revised and redrafted. While the poems are not included in Franklin’s numbering system for manuscripts and sets, the page layout here is similar to how Dickinson presented her poems in such groupings. Franklin attests to this in the Variorum Edition where he describes A386 as a ‘record copy, which shares a leaf of stationery with “The clock strikes one”, somewhat in the manner of a fascicle or set’ (Franklin, Variorum 1403). In this draft of the poem, the poetic fragment ‘A Woe of Ecstasy’ appears as a variant line choice ‘outside’ of the poetic boundary, indicated by the poet with a small ‘x’ to the side of the lines ‘The Son of / Ecstasy – ’ and ‘A Woe of / Ecstasy –’, respectively. Noticeably, in A836, the variant ‘A Woe of / Ecstasy – ’ does not appear at all (see Fig. 2.6 below). Instead, the manuscript represents only ‘The Son of / Ecstasy – ’. Moreover, the handwriting in this copy is even more fair than A386: the letters calligraphic with their swooping ‘S’ shapes, voluminous ‘A’s and extended sweep of the crossed ‘T’s. The manuscript was apparently drafted in preparation for a letter or correspondence: a ‘gift’, as indicated by the phrase ‘Please accept a sunset.’ written at the top of the page. The name ‘Prof Tuckerman’ also appears, perhaps



Fig.2.5

Emily Dickinson, ‘The clock strikes one’ and ‘A sloop of amber slips away’ (Ms. A385/386, recto) from Emily Dickinson Archive.



Fig.2.6

Emily Dickinson, ‘A sloop of amber slips away’ (Ms. A836, recto) from Emily Dickinson Archive.

th e p a g e as sit e

indicating the person for whom the draft was intended; however, Franklin writes in his description of the manuscript that, although ‘Prof Tuckerman’ appears, the draft ‘may not have been intended for him’ (Franklin, Variorum 1403). Having just described these two further manuscripts, how can we read ‘A Woe of Ecstasy’ in the context of the scriptural spaces of all three manuscripts A112, A386 and A836? The writing of ‘A Woe of Ecstasy’ in A112 (Fig.2.2) is angular and jagged, its letters blocky compared to the rounded letter forms and flowing style of the fair copy drafts A386 (Fig.2.5) and A836 (Fig.2.6). Each word, and each letter of each word, in A112 is set apart, less so than in the other manuscripts where the left-to-right motion sweeps each letter and word fluidly into the next. Rather than flowing in a spatiotemporal ‘tide’ of script, the words in the poetic fragment A112 are suspended. This vertical suspense is emphasised by the way that the words buoy the top of the page: the line above them a gestural mark of the surface that contains them; the scissored edges physical boundaries containing the volume of page-space. I see this as indicative of the spatial containment and temporal stagnation of ‘A Woe of Ecstasy’. Bearing this in mind, I turn to literary critic Sharon Cameron who, in Lyric Time: Dickinson and the Limits of Genre (1979), argues that ‘[t]he least mimetic of all art forms, the lyric compresses rather than imitates life; it will withstand the outrage of any complexity for the sake of being able to present sequence as if it were a unity’ (Cameron 241). In the moment of lyric compression: all time converges on the poem in whose one space splintered temporal fragments lodge and totalise. The poem lifts the fragments out of a severative reality. It prolongs, exaggerates, speeds up, subordinates, and, simultaneously, seals its moments off from the world so that, unlike the sand in the proverbial hour glass, they do not sift through. (Cameron 258)

The lyric form, according to Cameron, seeks to thwart the ordered rendering of past, present and future in order to recreate, verbally, the expanse and sensation of a single moment. In A112 (Fig. 2.2), this lyric compression is cultivated less verbally than through the spatial layout of the writing on the page. The line here does not flow from

77



78

p o e tics a n d p lac e

left to right, as do the lines in manuscripts A386 (Fig. 2.5) and A836 (Fig.2.6). Instead, it is stagnant and drowning in ‘A Woe of Ecstasy’. This image of ‘A Woe of Ecstasy’ drowning in the space of the page in A112 resonates with an interpretation of the poetic fragment ‘A Woe of Ecstasy’ within the context of A386 (Fig. 2.5) where, as we have seen, it appears as the variant line choice for the poem ‘A sloop of amber slips away’. Here the poem begins with an allusive image of sunset depicted through metaphor as a ‘sloop of / amber’ (1–2), ‘sloop’ being a nautical term referring to a boat with only one mast. The amber sloop of the setting sun ‘slips away / Upon an Ether / sea’ (2–4); the ‘ether sea’ I interpret as the sky.16 I imagine a crescent of intense light – a fragment of the sun’s full circumference at its zenith – slipping over the horizon. This transition is quick: an intensity of speed indicated by the sibilance of ‘sloop’ and ‘slip’ (sound as a material quality of language thus informs the meaning of the poetic imagery). The result is that the sloop – the sun, the ship – ‘wrecks’ (5) in the next line. Speed, light and intensity, as well as the violence of the event, are all, however, cushioned by the next two lines: it wrecks ‘in peace a / Purple Tar – ’ (6–7). The formlessness of the soft purple smear or ‘tar’ in which it drowns is, using the variant line choice, ‘A Woe of / Ecstasy – ’ (8–9 variant). One can locate Cameron’s ‘lyric compression’ here in the poem given that the motion of the sun slipping over the horizon takes, in reality, only seconds, possibly less; however, the depiction of the setting sun here is extended: time compresses as the lyric moment expands. This moment expands throughout the time it takes one to read the entire poem, extended even further when one re-reads the poem in order to fully grasp the meaning – or sensation – of the moment’s relation to the variant line ending. The fact that there are two variants for the last line of ‘A sloop of amber slips away’ means that the lyric compression in the language of the poem becomes even more pronounced through the temporality of the reader’s pace. The sequence stutters as we re-turn (re-verse) our reading to include ‘A Woe of / Ecstasy – ’ in the place – or, rather, in the time – where the poem reads ‘The Son of / Ecstasy – ’ (8–9). Typically reading left to right and always forwards, we are here solicited by the variant to go back, to re-read, to rethink the poem in relation to the content of each variant line. Scriptural time is halted in a stop-time, a syncopation of

th e p a g e as sit e

line, just as the language of the poem represents a compression of experiential time. We have seen that in Dickinson’s circulation of the poem through correspondence, manuscript A836 addressed to Professor Tuckerman (Fig.2.6), the variant ‘A Woe of / Ecstasy – ’ does not appear at all. As a result, there is no halt in the progression of the poem: no syncope. Instead, one reads the final lines ‘The Son of / Ecstasy’ (9–10) as the end of the poem. Comparing the two variant line endings offers some insight into the meaning of ‘A Woe of / Ecstasy –’. The variant ‘The Son of / Ecstasy – ’ begins with the article ‘the’, thus signalling the particular, the definite. In contrast, ‘A Woe of / Ecstasy – ’ begins with the article ‘a’: the referent is indefinite and unspecified. Now compare the subjects of each phrase, ‘Son’ and ‘Woe’. A son is the offspring of a father and mother, gendered masculine. In conjunction with the definite article and the capitalisation of ‘S’, ‘The Son’ resonates with Christian connotations – with Jesus, ‘the Son’ of God. In contrast, ‘Woe’ is a state of mind, a feeling or emotion. It is indefinite, non-specific and, hence, cannot be specifically gendered. It may, however, be aligned with femininity in conventional binaries that equate ‘femininity’ and ‘passivity’ since a state of woe – of sadness and depression – is often thought to be a passive state of inactivity. Between the two variants there is, then, a clear difference in meaning. In the first variant, we can interpret the ‘Son’ as the offspring of an ecstatic coupling when one loses oneself in relation to another. In contrast, ‘A Woe of / Ecstasy –’ is a state of mind induced by the ecstatic moment, more akin to the deep purple – the woe – that followed the rapturous decline of the sun in the poem. Read in this way, one variant shows that something is produced by the intensity of the ecstatic moment – the ‘Son’ – while the other drowns, swallowed up in a residual depressive state. The former, then, is procreative, there is something concrete that results, whereas the latter has no object: it is a nebulous residue rather than a thing birthed. Given that Dickinson’s public transcription of the poem here is accompanied by the words ‘Please accept a Sunset.’, she is offering the gift of the sunset, but only when it contains something concrete at the end: the ‘Son’ or ‘offspring’ of ecstasy. If Dickinson’s rough copy script in A112 (Fig. 2.2) is indicative of the poetic process with, in Riley’s terms, its ‘inrush of others’ voices’,

79



80

p o e tics a n d p lac e

what of the fair copy script in A386 (Fig.2.5) and A836 (Fig. 2.6) where the writing is more legible, the representation of thought more clearly ordered in a linguistic frame? Used for archiving and correspondence, I consider the fair copy script of these latter manuscripts in terms of the means whereby the poet extends herself: a publicly projected ‘voice’, which I place in quotations to denote an extended appreciation of the speaking voice to include the written or scriptural ‘voice’. Through this scriptural ‘voice’, Dickinson’s lyric ‘I’ is cultivated in relation to others who are the recipients, ‘you’, of her gestural address. On the one hand, this suggests that the subjectivity of the lyric ‘I’ is relational. On the other hand, it suggests that the polyphonic quality of the lyric voice inheres not only within the act of generating a poem – the poetic process with what Riley has called its ‘inrush of others’ voices’ – but also within the act of receiving the poem. Further considering the polyphony inherent in the lyric voice within the act of receiving it, I look specifically at one’s reception of the poem ‘A sloop of amber slips away’ through each of the manuscripts above. I firstly note that, although both A386 and A836 are copied in Dickinson’s fair copy script – or, as I have called it, her publicly projected ‘voice’ – there is a differential quality to the scriptural ‘voice’ in each of the two manuscripts. This differing quality of scriptural ‘voice’ results in different line breaks in each of the manuscripts. In ‘On the Function of the Line’ (1979), the poet Denise Levertov argues that line breaks can be construed as a kind of punctuating practice that change the rhythm as well as the pitch or, in her terms, ‘the melos of a poem’ when performed by a reader (Levertov 269). With a change in line breaks comes a change in ‘[t]he intonation, the ups and downs of the voice’, she writes (Levertov 270). Bearing in mind Levertov’s understanding that line breaks have a bearing on the vocal performance of the reader, I draw attention to the different line breaks in each of the manuscripts A386 (Fig.2.5) and A836 (Fig.2.6). Through Levertov, we appreciate how this has an effect on the melos of the poem, contouring the reader’s vocalisation, whether this is spoken out loud or to oneself. So, while handwriting is typically considered ‘external’ to scriptural space, here we see how it influences the line breaks to have a bearing on a reader’s vocal performance, whereby

th e p a g e as sit e

it becomes intrinsic to an enactment of the lyrical voice. In this sense, one’s reception of the poem can be considered a commingling of Dickinson’s scriptural ‘voice’ with the reader’s performing voice, whose melos differs depending on the different qualities of Dickinson’s scriptural ‘voice’. Herein lies the polyphony inherent in the lyric voice through the act of reception. The polyphony inherent in the act of reception also carries implications for thinking about the subjective encounter between the (lyric) ‘I’ and ‘you’ through one’s reception of the poem. In the introduction, I looked at how, in ‘The Grain of the Voice’ (1972), Roland Barthes writes that the ‘grain’ is ‘the body in the voice as it sings, the hand as it writes, the limb as it performs’ (Barthes, ‘Grain’ 188). I then suggested that, through Barthes, we can appreciate how the embodied acts of speaking, writing and performing imbue speech, writing and performance with a material quality or ‘grain’ that is specific to one’s unique corporeality. This, I argued, means that any embodied enactment of language generates a verbal message as a composite of indexical symbols understood in the material sense, and that the body’s ‘grain’ is intrinsic to the indexical-meaning of this message. In terms of our discussion of a reception of Dickinson’s poem in the manuscripts above, we can now appreciate that there is a unique ‘grain’ to Dickinson’s scriptural ‘voice’ through which the lyric ‘I’ sends its address to its recipient, ‘you’. Moreover, each recipient reads the poem out loud or to oneself through her own unique quality or grain of speaking voice. As a result, the relation between the lyric ‘I’ and ‘you’, as established through the scripted poem, is specific to each enactment of the poem with its reciprocity – through this, polyphony – of ‘voice’. To conclude this section, I introduce the last manuscript relating to ‘A sloop of amber slips away’, A836a (see Fig. 2.7 below). The poem in this manuscript is copied in the ‘foreign’ script of Todd, Dickinson’s first editor. In Todd’s transcription of the poem, preparing the manuscript for print, the draft is replete with editorial amendments including line breaks in keeping with the quatrain metre and a lack of internal capitalisation. The line breaks here are constructed in relation to poetic convention rather than through one’s specific and embodied encounter with the manuscript drafts

81



Fig.2.7

Emily Dickinson, ‘A sloop of amber slips away’, transcribed by Mabel Loomis Todd (Ms. A836a, recto) from Emily Dickinson Archive.

th e p a g e as sit e

and the ‘grain’ of Dickinson’s scriptural ‘voice’ in each. Here ‘A Woe of Ecstasy’ is, again, occluded in favour of the active, procreative, giftor object-bearing variant so that in this copy of the poem transcribed for printed publication, the poet’s ‘woe’ remains a private one. Flap A449 [Franklin 1323]: ‘The vastest earthly Day’ AL. Pencil draft, with alternatives on the flap of large (sealed) envelope. Fr. About 1874, in pencil on the flap of an envelope (A449) – p.1147.



Fig.2.8



Fig.2.9

Emily Dickinson, ‘The vastest earthly Day’ (Ms. A449, recto) from Emily Dickinson Archive.

Emily Dickinson, ‘The vastest earthly Day’ (Ms. A449, verso) from Emily Dickinson Archive.

Always camera shy, Dickinson only ever allowed one photograph of herself to survive, preferring to represent herself verbally, as in this description of herself sent to her friend and mentor, Thomas Wentworth Higginson near the beginning of their correspondence: ‘I am small, like the Wren, and my Hair is bold, like the Chestnut Bur – and my eyes, like the Sherry in the Glass that the Guest leaves’ (L268). The Dickinson of this correspondence, much like the Dickinson of the manuscript pages, composes a poetic image made manifest through handwritten script – here as a form of self-representation, and this

83



84

p o e tics a n d p lac e

as opposed to capturing her image with a camera (a mechanical apparatus, as is print technology). The impression Higginson would have had of the poet was thus dependent upon his engagement with her script and his interpretation of her language, rather than upon an optical encounter with Dickinson’s photographic portrait. Encountering Dickinson, Higginson would not actually have seen the poet’s face but, rather, imagined it in his ‘mind’s eye’ from her self-description in this penned portrait. Dickinson’s aversion to being photographed anticipates her later reluctance to being seen, even in person, by anyone other than her immediate family. In an essay on Dickinson in The Sense of an Interior: Four Writers and the Rooms that Shaped Them (2004), Diane Fuss looks at how Dickinson, becoming more hermetic as she approached her thirties, retreated further into the recesses of her family home; more specifically, the south-west corner of a south-west room in the Dickinson Homestead on Main Street where, seated at her 17inch square writing table, she began writing poetry with an almost feverish compulsion. Unwilling to show her face, Fuss describes that when guests came to visit, Dickinson would speak to them only from around corners or from the top of the staircase. Fuss quotes Mabel Loomis Todd as saying: ‘although our interviews were chiefly confined to conversations between the brilliantly lighted drawingroom where I sat and the dusky hall just outside where she always remained, I grew very familiar with her voice, its vaguely surprised note dominant’ (Fuss 45). Elsewhere, Fuss describes how Todd’s daughter referred to Dickinson as ‘the invisible voice, the phantom in the enchanted corridor’ (Fuss 45). Fuss goes on to make an interesting comparison between Dickinson’s spatial occupation of the Homestead and her choice of the lyric as a poetic form: ‘Dickinson lay claim to poetic authority by transforming herself entirely into a voice. In doing so, she was enacting the most influential notion of lyric poetry of her time: John Stuart Mill’s definition of the lyric as an utterance that is overheard’ (Fuss 49). Fuss goes on to describe Dickinson’s ‘eccentric’ relation to space as ‘poetic’ rather than phobic: a means of ‘lyricising space, recreating in the domestic interior the very condition of poetic address and response’ (49). All of this suggests that Dickinson’s reclusive nature and resultant architectural or spatial

th e p a g e as sit e

occupation of the Homestead actually enacts a certain understanding of poetic lyricism. I shall now suggest how her spatial occupation of the page in the ‘flap’ A449 reveals an alternate enactment of lyric: less ‘voice overheard’ than ‘encounter face-to-face’. I shall approach this understanding first by looking at the incarnation of the poem ‘The vastest earthly Day’ in the edited collections of Johnson and Franklin before turning to its appearance on manuscript A449. The poem as shown in Fig.2.10 (below) is taken from The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, edited by Johnson. Here the poem is presented as a single sentence with line breaks in keeping with grammatical syntax as well as the standard metrics of quatrain verse: the poem is divided into a four-line stanza ending with a straight dash – . Defined by Richard Bradford in Roman Jakobson: Life, Art, Language (1994), a ‘stanza’, the Italian word for ‘room’, is ‘a physical space within which movement, along the syntagm or across the paradigmatic field, is confined’ (Bradford 185). Related to this, a quatrain is defined by T.V.F. Brogan in The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (1993) as ‘[a] stanza of 4 lines, normally rhymed. With its many variations, the quatrain is the most common stanza form in European poetry, and very probably in the world’ (Brogan 1011). Bearing in mind this relationship between a poetic stanza and a room, I see the quatrain stanza form as akin to a standard room: four walls, right angles. In this presentation of the poem, we find a depiction of ‘self ’ such as Jane Donahue Eberwein, writing in Dickinson: Strategies of Limitation (1985), sees as typical of Dickinson: a contained or bounded ‘self ’, encountering the unknown. Eberwein argues that allusions to circuitry in Dickinson – including the cycles of time – refer to the



Fig.2.10

Emily Dickinson, ‘The vastest earthly Day’ from Thomas H. Johnson, ed., The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson.

85



86

p o e tics a n d p lac e

‘self ’ as a bounded consciousness or ‘private self ’ in relation to the awesome, sublime, ‘vast sea of general space representing infinity, immortality, and that empowerment beyond human limitation to which the self aspires’ and that remains ‘swirling outside’ (Eberwein 166). In line with this understanding of self in Dickinson’s work, the subject of the poem ‘A vastest earthly Day’ – ‘Day’ (1) – may be read as a self that is contained in circularity since this word evokes the entirety of day as a temporal circuit. The accompanying adjectives then posit this self as expansive (‘vast’) and human (‘earthly’): this is a full life. This vast earthly day or, as I am reading it, this self in the fullness of life, becomes ‘shrunken small / By one Defaulting Face/ Behind a Pall – ’ (2–4).17 The predicate here, the ‘Defaulting Face’, in being located ‘Behind a Pall’ is positioned in death, a pall being a heavy cloth draped over a coffin. Is this the face of one dead? If so, the self could be ‘shrunken small’ in grief for another’s life. But consider, now, that the adjective ‘Defaulting’ means, in legal terms, a failure to appear. As Dickinson often used legal terms in her poetry, the ‘Defaulting Face’ can be understood as the face that did not appear – that never appeared. It begins now, for me, to take on theological overtones, also prevalent in much of Dickinson’s verse: the face of the Christian God never appears. He is the voice on high, who giveth and taketh away. In doing the latter, God is associated with Death. My supposition that this is the ‘Defaulting Face’ of God is strengthened by means of the second meaning of the word ‘pall’: a square of linen used to cover the chalice. The ‘shrinking small’ of the ‘vastest earthly Day’ is here understood less in terms of grief for a human life than awe in the face of God – or, through association, fear in the face of Death. As such, the fullness or conceit of the vast expansive self shrivels or dwindles through this encounter with the unknown: with what lies ‘outside’ the limits of what is known by the self. Such an interpretation, in keeping with Eberwein’s understanding of Dickinson, suggests that the construction of self is here constituted through the binary inside/outside. Now compare Johnson’s version of the poem with the one that appears in Franklin’s Variorum Edition (see Fig.2.11 below). Here the editor notates all of the permutations of the poem in its manuscript form, including variants. Although the standard quatrain metre is

th e p a g e as sit e



Fig.2.11

Emily Dickinson, ‘The vastest earthly Day’ from R.W. Franklin, ed., The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Variorum Edition.

maintained, Dickinson’s writing process exceeds the poetic structure. For example, outside of the poetic structure, words such as ‘shrivelled’ (2, variant) and ‘dwindled’(2, variant) are variants of the word ‘shrunken’ in line 2. The variants open up the stanza, serving as thresholds into and out of the ‘room’. Franklin also notates how Dickinson has provided variants for the last three lines of the poem: ‘Is chastened small/By one heroic Face/that owned it all’ (2–4, variant). There are, then, two ‘faces’ in this poem: that of the ‘Defaulting Face’ and that of the ‘heroic Face’. The latter of these loses the theological overtones given that a ‘hero’ is a mythological, dramatic or narrative character who must achieve something: attain a goal or show strength. This ambitious striving is a human trait. Because the lines relating to the heroic face are presented outside of the poem – in the editorial apparatus – a reader must return to the poem, inserting the variant selections in the lines indicated. In this process, the poem refers to either one face or another: the ‘heroic Face’ that appears as a variant is necessarily inserted back into the four-line stanza in place of the ‘Defaulting Face’, and vice versa. The relationship between the two faces is one of displacement. A singular

87



88

p o e tics a n d p lac e

position is maintained, as only one face can inhabit the poem at any one time. Moreover, the boundary between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’, this time of the poetic structure, remains intact so that Franklin’s editing of the poem recalls the binary inside/outside above as the basis for the construction of self that Eberwein claims for Dickinson. Turning now to A449 (Figs 2.8 and 2.9 above), we see the poem scripted on the tattered scrap of an envelope folded once down the centre. The writing on this manuscript appears on the outside of the envelope-page fragment, which I understand because the glue strip appears on the verso of the manuscript. On this verso, a single tear meets the centre-fold amongst a virtual topography of creases, as viewed from above – a bird’s-eye view. The page itself reminds me of a bird’s wing: light and delicate. Torn from the edge of an envelope, this ‘flap’ carries a trace of the bird’s action in its very name. Meanwhile, the edges curved into aerodynamic lines likewise connote flight through their cut. On the recto of the manuscript (Fig.2.8), the two faces in the poem appear on either side of the fold. This indicates that the images of these faces – rendered in script – are located, architecturally, on the outside of the page. However, when one folds the manuscript over in keeping with the direction of the crease, the outside becomes inside and, here, the two faces meet. Because of their position and location on the page, each face remains distinct. They are brought into a relationship not of displacement, but rather proximity: a haptic encounter occurs as the surfaces of the outside come together. This manuscript thus presents the two faces not across a divide between inside/outside, but through a material encounter as the two scriptural surfaces osculate through the crease, the crease that is a directional trace of the poet’s embodied spatial gesture. More broadly, this interpretation of the manuscript ‘flap’ reflects my own encounter with the poem through an embodied engagement with the manuscript. I touch the page – small, like the wren – and read the poem through the directional trace of the poet’s scriptural gesture. A gesture enacted in a room, with four walls, at right angles. One that opens up to the outside – to the reader, to ‘you’ – such that the lyric enacted becomes less voice overheard than an encounter face-to-face, surface touching skin.

th e p a g e as sit e

Strip A 403 [Franklin 1613]: ‘The lassitudes of contemplation’ AL: Pencil draft, with alternatives, on a 21” strip of grey paper. Fr.: MANUSCRIPT: About 1883, in pencil on a narrow strip of paper twenty-one inches long, three quarters of an inch wide (A 403). p.1413. Emily Dickinson, ‘The lassitudes of contemplation’ (Ms. A403, recto) from Emily Dickinson Archive.



Fig.2.12



Fig.2.13

Emily Dickinson, ‘The lassitudes of contemplation’ (Ms. A403, verso) from Emily Dickinson Archive.

My initial engagement with manuscript A403 was with its non-scripted verso: smooth, brown, thick paper with reddish flecks throughout. The flecks remind me of the reddish ringlet of Dickinson’s hair that I was allowed to view when visiting the archives at Amherst College. The archivist, noting my interest, retrieved from the basement a folio in which this circlet was encased. I watched as she opened the institutional-looking folder to expose a block of white Styrofoam with one small square cut out. Lifting this white square from its equally white exterior, I could see two small ribbons tucked under a box. She lifted these two ribbons together and the small box popped out. Next, she opened the small box with its bounded edge to reveal, inside, a small white envelope. This she opened and, at last, I encountered the ringlet: bright red and bold, ‘like the Chestnut’, it curled in on itself: a snake eating its tail. The imprint of the oil from this circle of her left a printed yellow mark on the folded-out edge of its envelope encasement. I looked for a moment at this trace of the poet curled neatly and exquisitely in this most interior of interior spaces and felt privileged to have experienced such an intimate denouement. The manuscript A403 is, itself, a composite of equidistant folds and, as with the ringlet, there is a performative aspect to viewing it. Five folds divide the page into six sections. These sections are infolded twice, from both the right and the left. In its complete involution, the

89



90

p o e tics a n d p lac e

scripted text folds in on itself and the two ‘wings’ of the strip meet in a V shape: ‘recto’ meeting ‘recto’, ‘outside’ touching ‘outside’. From the discrete parameters of this folded rectangle measuring ¾ inch by 3½ inches, the serpentine scroll of manuscript A403 unfolds outwardly into a lengthy 21-inch ‘strip’. Having made a paper model of the manuscript, I experimented with different ways of unfolding the text to beget different readings suggestive of a relationship between the folded structure of the page and the scripted poem (Figs 2.14–2.19 below). I open the page once to the smoothness of page-space (Fig. 2.15). I contemplate this for a moment: its bipartite nature, the gap in the centre between the two sections revealing just a hint of scripted text. I unfold it again, first from the left (Fig. 2.16), to read: ‘they are the / spirits still vacate’ (5–6).18 Once more from the right and I read: ‘That him/refresh-/the dre’ (7–10) – the word cuts off (Fig. 2.17). Through this first act of unfolding, I encounter stillness and refreshment. I unfold the manuscript completely (Fig. 2.18). On either side of the calm centre is activity and force. In the folded sections directly before (that is, to the left) of this centre section, is ‘a force’ (3–4) begot by thinking: by the fatigues of thought or ‘the Lassitudes/ of contemplation’ (1–2). Meanwhile, in the section after (that is, to the right) of this centre section, are ‘the dreams’ (10) that ‘consolidate in action / What mettle fair’ (11–14): what courage has allowed one to fair or face which, by implication, refers to facing one’s fears. Through this particular act of unfolding, a calm centre sits in the midst of the force begot by the fatigues of thinking, on the one hand, and dreams actively consolidating or dealing with one’s fears, on the other. This is the calm eye in a maelstrom of thought and fear. Eight diagonal lines (/) appear throughout the expanse of the manuscript, these having been used to visually separate different sections of writing. These eight diagonal lines coupled with the line breaks in the poem and the five folds of the manuscript embody a rhythmic syncopation of visual, verbal and material elements. The diagonal line at the ‘end’ of the manuscript is akin to a musical repeat: the sign for a reader to return to the beginning of the poem. This would entail connecting the end of this poem with its beginning. I

th e p a g e as sit e

do so physically with the manuscript model so that the page becomes a physical ring of writing: eight visual (written) and six structural (folded) units (see Fig.2.19). On the ‘outside’, one reads the smooth, brown surface of the page while on the ‘inside’ is a literal circus where the force of thought and the action of dreams encircle the spirit’s still vacation as this scriptural ‘snake’ turns, circles back, as though to eat its own tail.

Figs 2.14– 2.19

Folding model of Emily Dickinson, ‘The lassitudes of contemplation’ (Ms. A403) from Emily Dickinson Archive.

91



92

p o e tics a n d p lac e

Stain AL 466/466a [Franklin 1150]: ‘These are the nights that beetles love’ AL: pencil draft, with alternatives on embossed (wreath & crown) stationary, ink-stained; verso: conclusion Fr.: MANUSCRIPT: About 1868, in pencil on a fragment of stationary, stained from having been used subsequently as a pen wipe (A466) – p.999

Figs 2.20–2.21

Emily Dickinson, ‘These are the nights that beetles love’ (Ms. A466a, recto above/ verso below) from Emily Dickinson Archive.

th e p a g e as sit e

The poem in this manuscript begins with a scrawling into the night (see Fig.2.22 below). ‘These These are the Nights that the Beetle loves Beetles love – ’ (1–3).19 As I read (through) the line, I re-read words: my performance of the poem enacts a visual-verbal ‘stutter’ Susan. This suggests Dickinson’s poetics of ‘hesitation’, as described by Howe in My Emily Dickinson: Pulling pieces of geometry, geology, alchemy, philosophy, politics, biography, biology, mythology, and philology from alien territory, a ‘sheltered’ woman audaciously invented a new grammar grounded in humility and hesitation. HESITATE from the Latin, meaning to stick. Stammer. To hold back in doubt, have difficulty speaking. ‘He may pause but he must not hesitate’ – Ruskin. Hesitation circled back and surrounded everyone in that confident age of aggressive industrial expansion and brutal Empire building. Hesitation and separation. The Civil War had split American in two. He might pause, She hesitated. Sexual, racial, and geographical separation are at the heart of Definition. (Howe, My Emily 21)

Dickinson’s ‘hesitation’ can be viewed in light of the social and political climate in which Dickinson was writing. Her verse, as Howe suggests, serves as a counterpoint to the ‘aggressive industrial expansion’ of the age reflected in the verse of some of her contemporaries; for example, the sprawling fields of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (1855). Another visual-verbal ‘stutter’ appears on the opposite side of the page – ironically, it occurs ‘in progress’ (see Fig.2.23 below). The words ‘in progress’ are crossed out and, above them, the letters ‘pro’ begin the word ‘progressive’. This act is also stopped short, only to be taken up again in the margin where the word is scripted in its entirety at the edge of the page. Here the perpendicularity of the word ‘progressive’ echoes, spatially, the ‘ponderous perpendicular’ (6–7) alluded to in the poem scripted opposite on the page. The progress of the scripted horizontal line in Fig.2.23 is interrupted and redirected, albeit still within the boundary of the page. This shifts the protocol from a scriptural order to that of a visual design. Compare the obliteration of the words made by these pencil marks to the obliteration of the words resulting from the stain seeping from the verso onto the recto of the manuscript (see Figs 2.24 and

93



94

p o e tics a n d p lac e



Fig.2.22

‘Scrawling’ from Emily Dickinson’s ‘These are the nights that beetles love’ (Ms. A466, recto) from Emily Dickinson Archive.

2.25 below). While he does not show the image of this manuscript, Franklin writes in his description of it in the Variorum Edition that this stain was made as a result of the page ‘having been used subsequently as a pen wipe’ (Franklin 999). The fluid boundaries of the stain spread down, into, through and across the page surface at a time actually following Dickinson’s drafting of the poem itself. Because it is ink, the stain is, materially, more permanent than the pencilled marks – not just the pencil marks used to cross out or over words, but those used to construct the words and phrases themselves. The stain, unlike the words, cannot be erased. Writing in ‘Lost Events’, Werner notes how after 1869 Dickinson abandoned any use of pen, preferring instead to work with pencil. Werner links this exchange to Dickinson’s increasingly acute sense of transience. For, unlike the pen, which produces a permanent memory trace, the lines drawn by the lead point of the stylus are easily erased or retraced so that each act of copying constitutes a new performance – improvisation or extension of a thought-event (Werner 23).

Werner’s assertion suggests that, through her pencilled acts of writing, Dickinson enacts the improvisation or extension of a thought-event into verbal or symbolic language. Reading this in relation to the inkblot on this manuscript, the permanent pen stain obliterates this action and obscures this event. However, rather than couching the relationship between pencil marks (words) and pen ink (stain) – verbal and visual signs – in oppositional terms, I read the pen stain as an extension of the poetic thought-event into the domain of the verbal and the visual, to be performed and interpreted by a reader-viewer.



Fig.2.23

‘In progress’ from Emily Dickinson’s ‘These are the nights that beetles love’ (Ms. A466, recto) from Emily Dickinson Archive.

th e p a g e as sit e



Fig.2.24

Seeping stain from Emily Dickinson’s ‘These are the nights that beetles love’ (Ms. A466, recto) from Emily Dickinson Archive.

The verso of the manuscript shows more definitively how the page, already folded centrally so that the poem could be scripted in two halves of the sheet, was folded again to allow for the pen wipe (see Fig. 2.25 below). This shift in the location of the fold reflects a shift, temporally, from one engagement with the page to another: from that of writing the poem to that of wiping the pen. Temporality is thus suggested less by the words and grammar of the poem than by the page and the actions implicitly performed when it was folded in a particular way. Within this spatial and temporal transition from the act of writing to that of wiping, the left-of-(page)-centre fold becomes the central divide. This solicits a visual reception of the symmetrical halves of the stain resulting from the ink combined with a folding over of the page. This symmetrical stain brings to mind a Rorschach inkblot test and, for me, the stain suggests a face,



Fig.2.25

Seeping stain from Emily Dickinson’s ‘These are the nights that beetles love’ (Ms. A466, verso) from Emily Dickinson Archive.

95



96

p o e tics a n d p lac e

a cat’s paw, the profile of a bird. These images are ghosted or mirrored in the light brown stains that result from the manuscript having been restored to its initial, central fold after the ink had stained the paper. Such a shift ‘back’ to the original centre fold implies a ‘return’ to the performance of the writing: the ghosted stains are the afterimage, the trace of a displacement from visual to verbal. Overall, the combination of reading the folds together with the ink blot image and its after-image implies a shift from the verbal to the visual and back again. Enacted through an embodied spatial practice of the page, and indexed by the shadowed blot, the two ‘languages’ can be read in relation to one another. Cut AL 499 [Franklin 1312]: ‘’Twas later when the summer went’ AL: Pencil copy, marked for alternative on slit (quadrille) envelope, prepared for mailing [with a scissored address to Samuel Bowles, from The Republican & a stamp affixed, and later cut away for other use]. Fr: MANUSCRIPT: About 1873, in pencil on the inside of an envelope addressed to Samuel Bowles by means of a clipping from the Springfield Republican (A499). A stamp, once affixed, was cut away before the poem was written. p.1133.

Manuscript A499 reveals a physical ‘cut’ – a wounding of the page indexically related to the poet’s act. This omission of the page affects Dickinson’s scriptural space. The cut contours the site of the page, while the layout of the text indicates that Dickinson wrote the poem specifically in relation to this contour. In the top left of the manuscript, around the cut, the letters ‘me’ break from their counterparts in the word ‘meant’ (7). This incorporates the ‘blankness’ of the cut into the construction of the poem itself. Acts of mutilation, Werner argues in ‘Lost Events’, are an integral part of Dickinson’s creative process. Speaking of the Otis Lorde correspondence specifically, Werner argues that ‘scissoring may be read as integral to Dickinson’s compositional process – as a rejection of closure, an extreme version of passing a work through proof, or as part

th e p a g e as sit e



Fig.2.26



Fig.2.27

Emily Dickinson, ‘’Twas later when the summer went’ (Ms. A499, recto) from Emily Dickinson Archive.

Emily Dickinson, ‘’Twas later when the summer went’ (Ms. A499, verso) from Emily Dickinson Archive.

97



98

p o e tics a n d p lac e

of her method of radical inquiry’ (Werner 31). Beyond legislation – the legible – these acts of cutting or scissoring are, for Werner, viewed in light of another kind of inscription: ‘Scissoring may be the inscription of a crossing – into extragrammatical spaces,’ Werner writes (Werner 31). For my part, I understand the ‘cut’ as an extension into – or even exchange between – different spatial orders and semiotic systems. The location and shape of this cut indicates that Dickinson cut off the stamp affixed to the verso of the manuscript, putting it to what the archival description of the manuscript (above) calls an ‘other use’. Jeanne Holland discusses such ‘other use’ in ‘Scraps, Stamps, and Cut-outs: Emily Dickinson’s Domestic Technologies of Publication’ (1994). Holland describes the manuscript of ‘Alone and in a Circumference’ (A129) where Dickinson ‘wrote the poem on the front and back of a half-sheet of standard notepaper’ to which she ‘affixed sideways on the face an unused three-cent stamp and two strips cut from a review of George Sand in Harper’s Magazine, May 1860’ (Holland 144). Holland then looks at the connections between the poem and what she terms the ‘visual/visceral’ qualities of Dickinson’s integration of these elements into the manuscript. Given Holland’s argument, the cut in manuscript A499 could refer, through omission, to an erstwhile and an elsewhere: an instance in which Dickinson used this stamp in a visual-verbal collage. I thus begin to interpret the absence of the page in A499 as indexing an addition made into another space of representation, one that uses both word and image, thus integrating verbal and visual spatial orders. This suggests a shift in emphasis from Werner’s discussion of cutting as elision and a form of (negative) inscription to one of cutting as the sign of addition and the possibility for an intersemiotic spatial order. This shift in emphasis, in turn, suggests that rather than a poetics of opposition where the cut is conceived of as a movement ‘outside’ of language and into an ‘extragrammatical space’, to use Werner’s term, the cut reveals a poetics of connection where it can be conceived of as an interchange across or between semiotic systems. If the cut in A499 becomes the sign of addition to another space, the verso of A499 reveals the sign of an addition from another space. The words ‘SAMUEL BOWLES SPRINGFIELD MASSACHUSSETTS’ are affixed to the verso of A499, clearly the

th e p a g e as sit e

sign of an elision from the pages of a newspaper (see Fig. 2.27 above). Samuel Bowles, with whom Dickinson was in correspondence, was the editor of the Springfield Republican. From Franklin’s description of the manuscript – and having, myself, looked through microfiche of old copies of the newspaper while in Amherst – it is evident that Dickinson took this cut-out from that particular newspaper. This grafted sign has the effect of extending the manuscript, referentially, into Dickinson’s social and political context both symbolically, through the proper names of Samuel Bowles and the Springfield Republican, and materially, through the indexicality of the grafted sign. All of which cultivates a meaningful relationship between the manuscript and its referential and material context, organised through a material spatial syntax. Bearing in mind this extension of the grafted sign into Dickinson’s social and political sphere, I note the significance of the material of the manuscript page as well as the lyric composed on the recto. Holland argues: Dickinson probably first learned the art of using scraps from The Frugal Housewife by Lydia Maria Child. Edward Dickinson presented the second edition to his wife, Emily Norcross, in 1832… The Frugal Housewife opens, ‘The true economy of housekeeping is simply the art of gathering up all the fragments, so that nothing be lost. I mean fragments of time, as well as materials.’ (Holland 154–55)

I now interpret the material quality of the page scrap as an index to the private or domestic realm. In contrast, the cut-out taken from the pages of the Springfield Republican indexes a public realm of print media. The cut-out therefore introduces the public sphere of print media into the personal sphere of domesticity through the indexicality of the sign. It also introduces a ‘proper’ name into the ‘private’ space of the poet and her lyric composition of ‘’Twas later when the summer went’ on the opposite side of the page. Dickinson’s technique of cutting and grafting thus puts the disparate contexts or spatial orders of the public and the private together in the symbolic, visual and material spatial order of her manuscript page, all of which is, again, organised through a material spatial syntax. Significantly, the position of the cut-out on the manuscript page is in the place of an address, which recalls for me Dickinson’s practice

99



100

p o e tics a n d p lac e

of letter-writing. Through her spatial practice of correspondence with others, Dickinson shared her lyric ‘I’ with a plurality of others or another ‘you’. Similarly, the reader’s spatial practice of turning over A499 from recto to verso performs a mediation between poem and address, the private and public realm. While the trajectories and temporalities of these two spatial practices may differ, an encounter between ‘I’ and ‘you’ is, nevertheless, suggested through both. There is another way in which this cut – but, more generally, Dickinson’s poetics – extends into a relation with ‘you’, the reader. In Werner’s ‘Lost Events’, she develops a notion of ‘writing as cutting’ (Werner 33). Referring to one letter, manuscript A740, which is cut in five places, Werner likens the cuts to ‘an enigmatic, albeit negative, kind of handwriting’ that ‘open[s] up blanks in our own commentary, [so that] reading approaches the experience of writing’ (Werner 33). For Werner, the ‘blanks’ in Dickinson’s manuscript open up a space for her critical commentary. In filling this blank, Werner approaches ‘the experience of writing’. The blanks Werner describes here resonate with what Smith describes as Dickinson’s ‘elliptical strategies’ in Rowing in Eden, although Smith, unlike Werner, is not referring to physical cuts, but to the poet’s elliptical grammar and use of variant word choices ‘outside’ the frame of the poem. These elliptical strategies, Smith argues, invite a reader’s participation in the construction of meaning: ‘Through various elliptical strategies, Dickinson invites readers to author connections between her texts and patterns within texts’ (Smith 13). Dickinson’s elliptical strategies, like the physical cut in Werner’s reading of Dickinson in Open Folios and, I would suggest, the ‘cut’ in manuscript A499, turn reading into a performative act of meaning-making contingent upon the reader’s engagement and enactment of her poems.20 Werner’s description of the ‘blanks’ in Dickinson’s manuscript and Smith’s discussion of Dickinson’s elliptical strategies return me to a discussion of Henry Sayre’s call for critical performance in The Object of Performance (1989), as discussed in the Introduction. In that previous discussion I suggested that what Sayre describes as ‘gaps’ can be understood in terms of the ‘silences’ in an artwork – ‘silences’ that, as I argued, are filled by the artwork’s material qualities. I suggest that the cuts, ellipses, gaps or blanks that one finds in Dickinson’s manuscripts

th e p a g e as sit e

are filled with such material meaning, which are intrinsic to her ‘voice’. A ‘voice’ to which I, receiving her pages, am able to ‘listen’, perceive and respond. All of which suggests that, even amidst the inherent traumata of these pages, there is communication; there is ‘voice’. It is just this capacity for an artwork to communicate, and its recipient to ‘listen’ and respond to that which evades narrative capture, which becomes increasingly important, ethically and politically, for the artworks and my engagement with them in the remainder of this study.

101



3

Projecting the Voice: Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Passages Paysages and the Ethics of Aesthetic Relation

Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Passages Paysages (1978) is a three-channel video piece with accompanying multi-track voice narration. The video piece comprises a meticulously time-coded concatenation of gestures, images and words fading one into the next. Cha attained this effect by first developing photographic or filmic stills into slide transparencies, then dually projecting these through cross-beams of light before cross-dissolving the single images together in sequence. These dissolved sequences were then videotaped to produce three independent yet interrelated sequences of slowly dissolving/evolving imagery. Spatialised onto three television monitors arranged in a line, the image sequences play in time with the artwork’s vocal incantation ranging from intimate whisper to distant address; heard in English, French, Korean and, at one point, in music. Different modalities of speech are also implemented: word and image, soliloquy, direct address, poetry, silence, correspondence and, finally, the spoken credits. The entire sound-image cycle runs 11 minutes and 30 seconds and is looped so that it repeats continually, what feels like compulsively. Memory is fundamental to Passages Paysages, as to much of Cha’s work. An artist’s statement written by Cha in 1978, the year she made Passages Paysages, reads: ‘My work, until now, in one sense has been a series of metaphors for the return, going back to a lost time and space, always in the imaginary’ (Rinder 30).1 Cha describes just such a metaphor in her specific description of Passages Paysages as a ‘narrative drawn from memory as passages in the word passages, as in path, way, physical, geographical space – also functions metaphorically retrouver 1. a. passages-of memory, to inconscient, collective and personal memory [sic].’2 Writing in Relating Narratives: Storytelling and Selfhood (1997), the philosopher Adriana Cavarero 102



p r o j e cti n g th e v o ic e

argues that in each of us lies the impulse to spontaneously recount our unique life story, thereby existing as the self of our own narrating memory. In doing so, Cavarero argues, we give ourselves over to another (Cavarero 85). Elsewhere, in Giving an Account of Oneself (2005), Judith Butler draws upon Cavarero to stress her own point that whenever we offer an account of ourselves, this act takes place within a scene of address where we need another to whom we address our account. The ‘you’ becomes, in Butler’s terms, the ‘I’s necessary site of reception and, as such, any act of self-representation – the ‘autobiographical exercise’, as Cavarero calls it, or the ‘giving of an account of oneself ’, in Butler’s terms – is dependent upon an interrelational encounter between ‘I’ and ‘you’ (Butler 67). Taking into account these theoretical arguments alongside Cha’s description of Passages Paysages and my own experience of it, I understand the artwork in terms of a narrative of self-representation.3 It is so, not in the autobiographical sense of telling a single story of the author’s life; rather, in the sense that it utilises a number of different registrations of media, sign systems, languages and modes of address to construct a performative enactment of memory. This construction is then received and ‘edited’ by the various listener-viewer-readers walking in and out of the gallery space at different times, dividing and focusing attention according to their relative positions and various capacities and inclinations to understand. More subjectively, Passages Paysages is an act of self-representation that sets up a scene of address where I, as the listener-viewer-reader, effectively become the artwork’s site of reception: a ‘you’ receiving fragments of a life story – shown to me, told to me – that I am entreated to reciprocally recollect. Through this reception, I engage in the act of another’s self-making: the poiesis of a life drawn from memory. Important for my purposes, Butler’s Giving an Account of Oneself posits an ethical contract for the discursive subjects ‘I’ and a ‘you’ within the situation of discourse. Butler bases this on her understanding, through the psychoanalyst Jean Laplanche, that any account we give of ourselves is marked by a fundamental opacity: that which, in the history of the subject, evades narrative capture. Drawing from Laplanche, Butler argues, firstly, that underlying any discursive scene of address between ‘I’ and ‘you’ is

103



104

p o e tics a n d p lac e

a primary (pre-subjective, pre-historical, pre-grammatical) scene of address that constitutes us fundamentally. Within this primary scene we are confronted with the enigmatic signification of another: an overwhelming signification that comes to us through voice and touch (Butler 54, 70). This enigmatic signification is, for Laplanche, in fact the unconscious of the other, unknown even to herself. Laplanche labels this experience ‘primary trauma’ (Butler 71). Critically, the recipient in this primary scene has not yet acquired a symbolic faculty and, with this, any ability to translate and respond to another’s address with recourse to learned gestural and linguistic codes. The recipient therefore represses the overwhelming signification of another to what Laplanche calls ‘thing-presentations’. Interiorising the unconscious desires of the other, the subject is, thereafter, never able to present or know herself fully. Moreover, argues Butler, this prehistory continues to happen every time I enunciate myself. In speaking the ‘I’, I undergo something of what cannot be captured or assimilated by the ‘I’, since I always arrive too late for myself…The ‘I’ is the moment of failure in every narrative account of oneself (Butler 79).

Ultimately, this primary scene is, according to Butler, a very real part of the history of our bodies, but inaccessible through language or narration because we have no recollection – no conscious memory – of it (Butler 72).4 And it is this irrecoverable primary scene of address within the subject’s pre-history that, argues Butler, constitutes the ‘I’s fundamental relation to ‘you’.5 Thereafter, she argues, any form of selfdisclosure, which any act of address implies, requires a recipient, ‘you’, of the communicative act since this other (the receiver, ‘you’) establishes ‘a certain site, a position, a structural place where the relation to a possible reception takes form’. ‘The forms of this relation are many,’ she continues, ‘no one can hear this; this one will surely understand this; I will be refused here, misunderstood there, judged, dismissed, accepted, or embraced’ (Butler 67). The ‘you’ – equally opaque – is therefore the ‘I’s necessary site of reception, even if they reject or are incapable of understanding the address. Drawing all of this together, Butler calls for an ethics based on these two points: the ‘I’s fundamental opacity and, with it, the ‘I’s necessary relation to ‘you’.



p r o j e cti n g th e v o ic e

Setting out this ethical contract between ‘I’ and ‘you’, Butler argues for an acceptance of the inherent epistemological limit in ourselves and a tolerance of it in others. Stating that the transparency of the ‘I’ presupposed as the ‘ethical ideal’ girds a moral expectation – that is untenable – to fully account for one’s actions, behaviours and motivations, she call for an ethics ‘in which self-acceptance (a humility about one’s constitutive limitations) or generosity (a disposition toward the limit of others) might find room to flourish’ (Butler 80). Based on the opacity rather than transparency of the ‘I’, Butler argues that we need to remain aware of and appreciate the sense of our own and another’s fundamental vulnerability and dependence: that which presents a limit to what we each can know of ourselves and our actions and, therefore, of what we are capable of saying of and for ourselves. Sensitive to this vulnerability, one would seek to engage with others without harming them either through words or with actions and, respecting this limit, one would strive to listen to others, regardless of one’s capacity to comprehend. Butler posits non-violence and a tolerance for opacity as the ethical basis of our social contract. Butler’s argument relates to Cha’s Passages Paysages insofar as the artwork’s compulsively repetitious and performative act fabricates a self-representation that I consider to be marked by opacity both at the level of its narrative and at the level of the cinematic apparatus itself. For me, a question then arises. Does the ethical contract that Butler suggests, based on a tolerance for opacity, extend into the realm of aesthetics and criticism? Arguably, many artworks – including Cha’s – attempt to communicate, and their receiver to understand, precisely what evades full articulation and comprehension. Is it then possible – (desirable? ethical?) – to receive and respond to an artwork’s opacity? Can we do so without needing, necessarily, to fully comprehend its meaning; that is, with respect to its sayable limits? Positioning myself in relation to Cha’s artwork as its site of reception, ‘you’, these questions become very important. Throughout my critical engagement with and response to Cha’s Passages Paysages, I attempt to consider how the artwork communicates in and through a fundamental opacity. Moreover, I

105



106

p o e tics a n d p lac e

consider such opacity as intrinsic to the artwork’s ‘voice’ and my own embodied reception and perception of it. How, then, do I ‘listen’ and respond to the artwork’s address? In order to account for the fullness of the artwork’s communicative capacity, as well as my own capacity to receive and respond to it, I must take into account the physical engagement that I, myself, had with Passages Paysages. For this purpose, I devised a critical strategy that would enable me to restructure – or remember – my experience of the artwork. I began by generating a working drawing (see Fig. 3.1 below). On the left-hand side of this working drawing I placed Cha’s manuscript and timeline of her artwork. Loosely aligned with this timeline are video stills documenting Passages Paysages and making up the middle part of the drawing. On the right-hand side are notes that I took while engaging with the artwork. These notes describe the texture of Cha’s voice, transcribe fragments of the spoken words, indicate which languages were spoken at different times and note my subjective response to



Fig.3.1

Working drawing of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Passages Paysages (1978): Kristen Kreider, drawing (2006) incorporating Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, manuscript and video stills of Passages Paysages from Constance M. Lewallen and Sabine Breitwieser, eds, Der Traum des Publikums/The Dream of the Audience.



p r o j e cti n g th e v o ic e

the piece as I watched and listened to it, again and again, in the gallery space. After making the working drawing, I divided it into six horizontal sections, each corresponding to a particular temporal sequence or what I call a ‘passage’ of Passages Paysages.6 From these divisions, I produced six images: one for each ‘passage’. I did this by taking digital photographs of each divided section, starting from the lefthand side of the drawing and moving across to the right (that is, from the timeline, through the photographic images and into my personal notes). I captured one image sequence for each horizontal section of the drawing or ‘passage’. From here, I took each image sequence and, using digital image manipulation, made a composite so that each respective ‘passage’ is condensed into a single palimpsest of image and text. I use these images to trigger the memory of my encounter with Passages Paysages and, thus, as springboards for my critical engagement with the artwork. The chapter is thus divided into six sections corresponding to each ‘passage’, while two sections – ‘Beginning (Voice “Outside”)’ and ‘Ending (Light “Outside”)’ – relate to the interval between the looped sonic and visual sequence. Beginning (Voice ‘Outside’) When I went to see Passages Paysages, I happened to walk in during the interval between the looped filmic/sonic cycle: into silence and the darkness of three black screens. From (or into) this void emerged a voice and, through this voice, I heard: Gone. Not yet. Not gone notchet. It should be. It should be as… It should be as gone. A few remaining Yet remaining moments. A few remaining moments.7

This voice spoke softly and with an accent I could not quite place. This voice spoke slow in a deliberate monotone. This voice, pitched high, was a woman’s voice. Such qualities – accent, intonation, timbre

107



108

p o e tics a n d p lac e

– are particular to the voice and, more particularly, to this voice. They indicate, to use Roland Barthes’ term, the voice’s ‘grain’: ‘The “grain”,’ he writes, ‘is the body in the voice as it sings, the hand as it writes, the limb as it performs’ (Barthes, ‘Grain’ 188). The ‘grain’ is an index to the body in the act of speaking, writing and performing, as we saw when engaging with Dickinson’s manuscripts. This quality relates to what philosopher Mladen Dolar, writing in A Voice and Nothing More (2006), would call the intrinsic value and positive difference of voice: a quality that distinguishes the voice from the negative differentiality of the linguistic signifier. Coupling this negative differentiality of linguistic signification with intrinsic value and positive difference – ‘grain’ – voice thus couples symbolic-meaning with indexical-meaning, imbuing vocalised speech with indexical-meaning. With this in mind, I turn to an essay entitled ‘Vox Clamans in Deserto’ (1986) where philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy specifically references Barthes’ ‘Grain of the Voice’ when positing that the ‘human voice is in fact the privileged (eidetic) locus of difference’ (Nancy 236). The difference that Nancy is alluding to here, via Barthes, is not one of self-same, oppositional difference but, rather, of unique – non-substitutable – difference which recognises each particular voice. ‘You have to listen to each voice,’ Nancy writes, ‘No two are the same … Don’t you know that our vocal impressions are the most unique of all, even more impossible to confuse with one another than finger prints which are, after all, particular to each of us?’ (Nancy 236). Understanding these vocal impressions in terms of Barthes’ ‘grain’, and this in terms of the index, we can appreciate that the uniqueness of the voice stems from the indexical relation that it has to each particular body with its own unique corporeality. Crucially, Nancy’s continuing argument suggests that voice, aligned with corporeal uniqueness and non-substitutable difference, is nevertheless multiple: each person has not one, but several possible voices. Nancy then identifies some of these possible voices as ‘the speaking or articulated voice, the singing or melodious voice, and the pathetic or accented voice, which serves as the language for the passions’ (Nancy 237). Such a multitude of voices is evident in Cha’s artwork which, as I described above, includes different modalities of speech. However, the artwork employs not only speech, but also



p r o j e cti n g th e v o ic e

writing and gesture. This, to me, implies that there are not only multiple voices in Passages Paysages, but also multiple ‘voices’, which I place in quotations to denote an expanded sense of this term to include the scriptural and gestural ‘voice’. It follows that Cha’s artwork embodies not only the ‘grain’ of the speaking voice, but also the ‘grain’ of her scriptural and gestural ‘voice’. If, then, we appreciate that ‘grain’ is an index to the body, it follows that the indexicalmeaning of Cha’s artwork is filled with multiple incarnations of her ‘grain’ of ‘voice’. ‘Passage’ 1 : Dissolves (Syntax) (Fig.3.2) Onto the darkness of the three black screens – thus, into the space where the voice first resounds – the title of the artwork is revealed through a sequence of letters shown one after the next on each of the three screens:

P A S S A G E S P A Y S A G E S8

Reading the words, letter by letter, I experience darkness intermittently between recognising each shape as a unit of sound. The meaning of the word as it emerges is unhinged from its signified for this duration, existing ‘outside’ of language in an experience unfolding, in a spacetime before the word. Following the sequence of individual letters, the words appear as units on the screen: PASSAGES

PAYSAGES

109



110

p o e tics a n d p lac e



Fig.3.2

‘Passage’ 1: Kristen Kreider, image developed from working drawing of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Passages Paysages (2006) incorporating Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, manuscript and video stills of Passages Paysages from Constance M. Lewallen and Sabine Breitwieser, eds, Der Traum des Publikums/The Dream of the Audience.

As I understand what I have been reading, the concept eclipses the process of engaging with each individual letter form. Visually, the two words of the title resonate with one another, their similar letters – and concomitant sounds – repeating, echoing. The meaning of each word exists, however, in a particular place: the first in English or French and the second only in French. There is a shift – a transition – implied in the slippage between the two as, like the technical manipulation of the images on screen, the sound-sense of these two words cross and dissolve in a blurring of cultural and national boundaries. In the next image sequence, the word PAYSAGES of the title transitions into a landscape (a paysage) of bedclothes, a crossing and dissolving of the word into image. In this intimate scene, the sun shines in through the window and onto the white sheets, apparently rumpled from a night of sleeping. A chiaroscuro of shadow and light shifts as the position of the camera moves in closer and closer with each dissolving frame.



p r o j e cti n g th e v o ic e

In my own construction of ‘Passage 1’ (Fig.3.2 above), the front layer of the palimpsest image brings me even closer, conflating the screen with the scene itself. I view this through the crosshairs of white created by the boundaries that separate the photographic documentation of Passages Paysages that I used in my working drawing. This creates a window effect in the image layering so that, even in my proximity to the sheets – to the scene/screen of white bedclothes – I feel slightly removed. Voyeuristic. I am looking into this space of lovers, where they touch and where they dream. I am listening to the whispering pillow-talk entreaty as it resounds in the space: Remember Remember. just the other day Yet remaining moments. Do you remember? Closing my eyes. Just the other day wait… (Had you?) (Patience. We wait.)

Through Cha’s choice of personal pronouns, ‘I’ enter this scene: ‘I’ am the ‘you’ to whom she shows and tells, part of the we – the audience – who wait for the ‘story’ to unfold. ‘I want to be the dream of the audience,’ says Cha (Lewallen 225). Poet and theorist Sharon Morris writes in Shifting Eyes (2000): ‘I speak to you, the air molecules vibrate in your inner ear and you interpret my speech, a complex series of events reliant upon the indexical relation between my speech and your hearing.’ (Morris, Shifting Eyes 24). The speaking voice thus establishes an indexical relation between the speaker and listener in a discursive exchange. Phrased differently, the contact of a speech event is an indexical relation between speaker and listener. If, as I argued above, the ‘grain’ of the speaking voice is an index of one’s unique corporeality, it follows that this indexical-meaning is also intrinsic to the contact, or indexicality, between a speaker and listener. Extrapolating this in terms of Passages Paysages, Cha’s ‘grain’ of ‘voice’ – an index to her unique corporeality – is intrinsic to the contact, or indexical relationship, between the artwork, speaking as ‘I’, and myself, positioned as its site of reception, ‘you’.

111



112

p o e tics a n d p lac e

The opening sequence fades into another word – a word in French, the lovers’ tongue: etteindre

This word is a conflation of two French words: éteindre and atteindre. I speak them, their sonic quality crossing and dissolving on my tongue. The former means to extinguish, put out, switch off. The latter means to accomplish, attain, reach. Together, what can they mean? To have reached extinction? (In our sleep, we ‘switch off ’ – and attain another language when we close our eyes…) Another word appears on the screen next to it:

allumer

This is a verb meaning to light, to kindle. Here, the light shining in through the window and onto the landscape of bedclothes in the first image sequence is translated into language: into action – to light. The possible meanings compound even more with the two wordimages presented together: to extinguish, to attain, to light. While the verb tense is not grammatically in keeping, I nevertheless hear the phrases: ‘to extinguish the light’ and/or ‘to attain the light’. In the image I have constructed above (Fig.3.2), my transcription of the spoken word ‘remember’ using a typewriter appears next to the verb allumer to read: remember allumer

Remember. To light. ‘Remember the light.’ (Remember this – it will return …) From the words on-screen, the image sequence moves into one of two fingers holding onto an object I do not recognise. Only later, reading Cha’s timeline, am I able to identify it as a candle. So this opening sequence enacts a series of transitions: from the light shining in through the window and onto the sheets where two lovers slept; to the light shining verbally out through the meaning of the word allumer (‘to light’); to the light in the object held by the hand in the lightest of fingertip touches. These transitions all hint at this light without ever fully explaining its significance. What is this significance of the light and how might I grasp it?



p r o j e cti n g th e v o ic e

‘Passage’ 2: Projection (Gesture) (Fig.3.3) The video scene transitions from the handheld candle into an image sequence of a gesturing hand. If we use Barthes’s terminology, the gesture embodies the ‘grain’ in the ‘limb as it performs’. I have no way of reading these gestures as a direct translation of spoken words since they are not a sign language – or at least not as far as I understand. So I interpret them as I would the body gesticulating, punctuating speech: a complement to the speaking voice that, softly, touches my ear, saying: remember I keeps playing the same.9 That is what you would say to them… I have forgotten everything.

The open palm is a gesture of release and, at the same time, a gesture towards me, the recipient. In relation to the words spoken, I interpret this gesture of release as a forgetting – a letting go of something – that



Fig.3.3

‘Passage’ 2: Kristen Kreider, image developed from working drawing of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Passages Paysages (2006) incorporating Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, manuscript and video stills of Passages Paysages from Constance M. Lewallen and Sabine Breitwieser, eds, Der Traum des Publikums/The Dream of the Audience.

113



114

p o e tics a n d p lac e

is, simultaneously, a gesture toward me, as the ‘you’ who is entreated to remember. Through this gesture ‘I’ am handed over a sense of responsibility. (Will I be able to respond?) Open, the gesturing hand yearns to connect. I imagine that if I reach out, I might touch this hand, feel the grain of its gestural ‘voice’ as I press my palm against the skin of her screen. I suggested above, via Nancy’s ‘Vox Clamans in Deserto’, that the gesturing ‘voice’ is one of the multiple ‘voices’ in Passages Paysages, the others being the scriptural ‘voice’ as well the speaking voice, each with its ‘grain’. However, a continued reading of Nancy attests that none of these multitude of ‘voices’ is what he calls ‘the voice itself, the vocalization of voice, or its essence as voice’ (Nancy 237). What is the ‘voice itself ’ of which Nancy speaks and how does it figure in Cha’s Passages Paysages? Nancy locates ‘voice itself ’ in the infant’s cry that, he argues, is both anterior and exterior to language: an historical precedent to one’s acquisition of the word, a material specificity exceeding it (Nancy 236). Preceding and exceeding language, ‘voice itself ’ is nevertheless coextensive with speech. It is what Nancy calls ‘the veritable actuality of speech, which in turn is itself a being in the act of discourse’ (Nancy 237). But this is not, Nancy stresses, because ‘voice itself ’ is the material quality of voice – the two are not to be confused. Rather, ‘voice itself ’ is one’s projection into the world. We can understand this in terms of Hannah Arendt’s philosophy of appearance, discussed in the Introduction. Like that point of one’s primary exposure in Arendt’s phenomenology where ‘Being and Appearing coincide’ (Arendt, Life 19), Nancy’s ‘voice itself ’ marks one entry into a relational existence with a plurality of others. As a result, Nancy argues, ‘there is polyphony at the basis of every voice. Because voice is not a thing, it is the means by which something – someone – takes distance from the self and lets that distance resonate’ (Nancy 240). Drawing Nancy and Arendt’s arguments together, the actuality of the material voice opens onto the spacing of ‘voice itself ’ which, in essence, is shared and sharing: a polyphonic projection through which one takes distance from oneself and lets that distance resonate, thereby opening the singular being up to a plurality of existence.



p r o j e cti n g th e v o ic e

In my view, ‘voice itself ’ figures iconically in Cha’s gesture, which I read as a sign of opening and release. More than that, ‘voice itself ’ is embodied, as it is experienced, through the polyphonic resonance of Cha’s multiple ‘voice’ projected into the gallery space and establishing contact between myself and the artwork. I will call this vocal projection of/from one being toward another or others – or, in this instance, from Cha’s artwork to myself as its embodied recipient – an act of ‘material spacing’. Through this, there is distance and, thus, spatial positioning. However, this is a distance and positioning that, resounding with a polyphony of ‘voice’, establishes a materiallycontiguous spatiality of relation between the artwork, as ‘I’, and myself as its site of reception, ‘you’; it is the contact between ‘I’ and ‘you’ filled with indexical meaning. But in all of this discussion of voice, what has happened to the light from the first section? The voice, itself, is light: soft and gentle. It tells me: ‘I have forgotten everything’ as the hand releases, passing (what?) on to me. Might ‘I’ have forgotten the light? Perhaps I am being entreated to remember – or else I have misunderstood. If, in fact, the light has been forgotten, buried within memory, then how would it be possible for me to ever remember – I who cannot fully understand? To answer this, I turn to Cha’s cinematic apparatus. Cha develops the cinematic apparatus in Passages Paysages by means of taking photographs or filmic stills and turning them into slides: slides that, like a film, are projected in a moving series through a beam (or beams) of light. This sequence of moving, crossing and dissolving images is then videotaped. Through this analogue technology, the ‘original’ light flowing into the coils of the electromagnet causes the magnetic material on the video tape to align in a manner proportional to the original signal. By means of this process, the light initially ‘captured’ in the photographic or filmic stills is registered on tape, to be presented to the viewer who perceives it as a visual image. Engaging with Cha’s Passages Paysages, the embodied recipient is therefore, at one and the same time, interpreting the words and images as they cross and dissolve on screen while perceiving, through the cinematic apparatus, the indexicality of the light from the original objects and things photographed.

115



116

p o e tics a n d p lac e

In ‘The Fiction Film and Its Spectator: A Metapsychological Study’ (1976), film theorist Christian Metz argues that superimposition (or ‘cross’) and dissolve techniques in cinema relate to condensation and displacement in dream-work.10 There is, however, a fundamental difference between cinema and dreams: ‘Filmic perception is a real perception (is really a perception),’ Metz argues, ‘it is not reducible to an internal psychical process,’ as is a dream (Metz 379). The difference, Metz continues, between the psychical effects produced by the dream and the film, respectively, ‘derive from an entirely material difference, the presence of the film, without equivalent in the dream, of images and sounds chemically inscribed on an external support, that is to say, the very existence of the film as “recording” and as bande.’ Because of this, Metz adds, ‘the film image belongs to that class of “real images” (tableaux, drawings, engravings, etc.) which psychologists oppose to mental images’ (Metz 379). Since Cha is working with cinematic perception and not with dreams, I thus understand the cross-dissolve technique in Passages Paysages less in terms of the condensation and displacement of dream-work and more in terms of a manipulation of the registration of light: a means of physically or materially overlaying and dissolving the light from two different images. In this sense, the cross-dissolves work less with unconscious (latent and psychical) memories than with the indexicality of light as a ‘material memory’ inherent in the photographic or filmic exposure, manipulated through Cha’s apparatus. Cha’s cinema and the message it sends is thus one configured through a material poetics. ‘Passage’ 3: Sound (Echo) (Fig.3.4) When I note that I hear a speaking voice in Passages Paysages and, through this, recognise the distinct and singular ‘grain’ of the one speaking, this recognition is not because the body of this voice is co-present with me in space and time. Rather, I encounter this voice in and through an act of mediation: from the recording of the voice onto electromagnetic tape in its particular location in time and space, to my own reception of the piece in situ and, ultimately, into my recollection of experiencing the artwork. The phenomenological and ideological implications of this are



p r o j e cti n g th e v o ic e

suggested by film theorist Kaja Silverman, who argues in The Acoustic Mirror (1988) that cinema has, historically, been at pains to recover – or at least to cover over – the phenomenal loss intrinsic within cinematic production: to restore or to mask the ‘profilmic event’, thereby staving off the symbolic castration inherent in filmic representation. For Silverman, this attempt to mask film’s artifice is inherent in sound recording, generally, and the recorded voice, specifically. This is especially evident, she argues, in film theory’s attempt to assure us, time and time again, that there is no difference between sound and its recording and that, as such, ‘the apparatus is miraculously capable of capturing and retransmitting the profilmic event in all its auditory plenitude, without diminution or distortion. And with each new testimonial to the authenticity of recorded sound,’ Silverman contends, ‘cinema seems once again capable of restoring all phenomenal loss’ (Silverman, Acoustic 42).11 However, Silverman presents an interesting rejoinder when she argues that sound – as it is performed and received – is inseparable



Fig.3.4

‘Passage’ 3: Kristen Kreider, image developed from working drawing of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Passages Paysages (2006) incorporating Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, manuscript and video stills of Passages Paysages from Constance M. Lewallen and Sabine Breitwieser, eds, Der Traum des Publikums/The Dream of the Audience.

117



118

p o e tics a n d p lac e

from the reverberant conditions of its context. As such, there will always be a difference between sound and its recorded copy, the latter of which would necessarily be removed from its site of production if not in space than in time – or both.12 Since recorded sound is dislocated from the original sound in time and space, the recorded voice cannot, therefore, be authentic or ‘real’: it is not a sign of presence. Which implies that, even as I hear the ‘grain’ of Cha’s voice and, through this, recognise the body in the voice as it speaks, the body designated by this unique voice is, in fact, absent. This absence or, rather, mediated presence of the bodily referent, its echo, is characteristic of Passages Paysages – indeed, it is intrinsic to the meaning of the artwork that, for me, resonates with such an absence. What is echo? I stand in a canyon and call out. My voice reverberates – echoes – in the acoustic chamber of rock. I receive the sound, belatedly and externally. A mimetic repetition comes ‘back’ to me through the trace of my voice, dislocated and transformed by its physical surroundings. Echo is thus both icon and index: a repetition pointing back to its source, but materially transformed by its context. As such, echo is never the ‘same’ as its original. The sound recording of Passages Paysages is, in this sense, an echo of Cha’s voice. It is her voice that I hear, but the voice – as echo – is dislocated in time and space, its grain slightly disintegrated through a context: specifically, the mediation of the tape and its inevitable disintegration over time. In the opening sound sequence of Passages Paysages, this voice is layered multiply so that the words one hears are repeated. The voice echoes itself. (Later in the filmic sequence, the words on screen will read ‘Mot de PASSE Magnetique’, meaning ‘electronic/magnetic passwords’. In this way, the meaning of the words on screen resonates with the materiality of ‘voice’ recorded onto magnetic tape.) An echo effect is also manifest imagistically on the screen where, by means of the slow fades and cross-dissolves, the images presented on the three screens linger in an optical reverb. At a point near the middle of the sequence – the temporal point in Passages Paysages corresponding to the image above (Fig. 3.4) – the multiple voice track is distilled into a single speaking voice:



p r o j e cti n g th e v o ic e

flickering dim dusk she could have (she could have) been leaving her shadows cut out (cut out) on white on on white screen door covering her own (her own) darkens as the remnants (as the remnants of ) light – lower them clothe eyes (clothe eyes) with sleep with fading sigh

This line is scripted with white chalk on a blackboard and displayed as part of the image sequence, embodying the ‘grain’ of Cha’s scriptural ‘voice’. It is also spoken in the voice track, embodying the ‘grain’ of her speaking voice. The speaking voice repeats (echoes) certain words and phrases in the poetic line while the word-images on the screen fade one into the next through the cross-dissolves, creating visual line breaks over time. The images together with the spoken words create a syncopated visual and verbal rhythm. In my image of this passage (Fig.3.4), my own handwritten transcription of Cha’s speech in this section can be read alongside Cha’s handwritten text imaged on the screen and scripted in the timeline: my scriptural ‘voice’ a haptic echo of Cha’s. In The Words of Selves: Identification, Solidarity, Irony (2000), poet and theorist Denise Riley suggests that echo ‘might be taken as a figure or a trope for the troubled nature of lyric poetry … condemned to hapless repetition of the cadences and sound associations in others’ utterances’ (Riley 111). This becomes evident in the poetic process where, Riley states, the poet is overcome by an ‘inrush of others’ voices’ (Riley 65) echoing around in the mind and, elsewhere: ‘There’s a characteristic excess in working with lyric, that buzz of ramifications, through sound-echoes…There’s a feeling of being seized by too much language or of being inscribed by language’ (Riley 104). Riley

119



120

p o e tics a n d p lac e

thus conveys the sense of being overwhelmed by the multitude of sound-echoes – resonances of other(s’) voices – within the act of poetic composition. Having discussed this in my engagement with Dickinson’s manuscripts, this is now echoed in my experience of the image and sound-sequence in Cha’s Passages Paysages. Throughout my encounter with this piece, I experience Cha’s ‘voice’ as multiple and polyphonic. It surrounds and envelopes me so that the total effect in the gallery space is that of a lyric atmosphere not dissimilar from the mindset of the poet as described by Riley and extended through Cha’s material poetics. With the looping of the sound and image sequence in Passages Paysages, the listening process is repeated so that the artwork’s entire construction embodies echo. Through this looped repetition and a recipient’s continued engagement with the piece the ‘“I” keeps playing the same’, as Cha’s voice attests. But does ‘I’ play ‘the same’? According to the linguist Émile Benveniste, the ‘I’ and the ‘you’ echo one another within a dialogic exchange. ‘I use “I” only when I am speaking to someone who will be a “you” in my address … “I” posits another person, the one who, being, as he is, completely exterior to “me,” becomes my echo to whom I say “you” and who says “you” to me’ (Benveniste ‘Subject’, 225). Echo greets us from the outside. As the site of the artwork’s reception, I am its discursive echo: the ‘you’ to your ‘I’ who becomes ‘I’ to and through ‘you’. This does not mean that ‘I’ am ‘you’; rather, in speaking to each other, we are each others’ context so that the indexical symbol ‘I’ that I speak comes back to me, transformed, both grammatically and materially (i.e. vocally), into the indexical symbol ‘I’ that you speak. (Echo greets us from the outside.) As such, the ‘I’ in Cha’s artwork – the ‘I’ with what Riley calls its ‘simulacrum of control under the guise of form’ (Riley 66) – plays over and over, the ‘same’; however, as this ‘I’ is received, at different times and in different ways by the listenerviewer-reader – by ‘you’, the artwork’s context or site of reception – this repetition of ‘sameness’ constructs, each time, a different relational identity. The ‘I’ in this artwork is multiple, through its relation to ‘you’.



p r o j e cti n g th e v o ic e

‘Passage’ 4: Screen (Touch) (Fig.3.5) The speaking voice resounding in the space is silent throughout the next section. Into the cinematic space, a plethora of typed words appear, white on black screen: entice paysages mesmeric passe



LuLL



passé

Mot de passe Magnetic

I read these words in the image I have made (Fig. 3.5 below). These words, as image, are taken from the video stills of Passages Paysages. In the image they sit alongside the words that I had transcribed during my engagement with the artwork in situ, and that I included in my working drawing. These transcribed words read:



BACK

ALLURE there then AGAIN13

These are words of passage, enticing me into the past. ‘Magnetic passwords’, perhaps referring to the words spoken on magnetic tape or the words videotaped here, magnetically. Through them I am lulled – lured – into the landscape of the past, the mesmeric past, this past with its own allure. Resounding throughout this seduction is my recollection of the light – allumer, the verb to light – from the first section: remember allumer

The words on screen float in and out of sight. The assonance entices me to remember the light. I am lulled – lured, allured – into the past, into the light. (Back there, then, again.) ‘There’ and ‘then’ are both linguistic shifters. They are, to use Arthur Burks’ terminology from ‘Icon, Index and Symbol’ (1949), indexical symbols in a grammatical sense. Through them I am being shifted into the past, both symbolically and indexically.

121



122

p o e tics a n d p lac e



Fig.3.5

‘Passage’ 4: Kristen Kreider, image developed from working drawing of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Passages Paysages (2006) incorporating Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, manuscript and video stills of Passages Paysages from Constance M. Lewallen and Sabine Breitwieser, eds, Der Traum des Publikums/The Dream of the Audience.

I am also shifted into the past indexically through Cha’s technical apparatus. Previously I described Cha’s Passages Paysages as working with different registrations of light from the original exposure of photographic image or filmic still, through its development into projected slides and its recording onto video tape. Through these different registrations of light, this artwork engages with photographic and filmic signification’s indexical relation to real objects and things: from objects, things and events which were ‘there’ comes my experience of them ‘here’. This is the index, understood in a material sense. It is through these various registrations of light that we receive, imagistically, Cha’s ‘voice’ and its grain. Still, something interrupts my easy transition into – this transmission of – the past. Now (here) on the surface of the screen, flecks, spots and moving debris confront my vision, disrupting the optical image. This is an effect of video ‘dropout’ where, either in the actual recording of the video or over time, the magnetic tape drops out bits of the image or, over time, decays. This degeneration of the image either precludes



p r o j e cti n g th e v o ic e

and/or ‘forgets’ the registration of light. As this offers us Cha’s voice on screen, the effect of the dropout distorts this ‘voice’ and also contextualises it within the historical past of this analogue technology. The dropout, interrupting my reception of ‘voice’ and, therefore, my conscious registration of what it ‘speaks’, suggests an opacity within the artwork’s structure and, thus, Cha’s narrative of self-representation. While viewing the piece, I engage with this choreography of absent light, but in no way comprehend its meaning. It remains, for me, enigmatic. I mark on my drawing a broken black line to indicate this point where, in my viewing, the scene degrades. How can I interpret this opacity in Cha’s self-narrative: an opacity I experience, even as it eludes symbolisation or my attempt, here, to narrate it? In ‘Video Haptics and Erotics’ (1988), film theorist Laura Marks discusses a number of video art works in terms of their quality of ‘haptic visuality’, a term drawn from art historian Alois Riegl. Marks describes how haptic visuality, in contrast with optic visuality, ‘draws from other forms of sense experience, primarily touch and kinaesthetics’ with the result being that ‘the viewer’s body is more obviously involved in the process of seeing than is the case with optic visuality’ (Marks 332). The hapticity of the video screen, argues Marks, results from ‘the constitution of the image from a signal, video’s low contrast ratio, the possibilities of electronic and digital imaging, and video decay’ (Marks 339). I now propose that the video dropout in Passages Paysages can be understood in terms of a haptic visuality that communicates to and through my body and the contact I have with the artwork. The opaque granularity of the haptic screen – an uncoded message amidst the more coded, albeit poetic, meanings articulated visually and verbally throughout the piece – ‘speaks’ the ‘material memory’ inherent in the photographic and filmic stills or, more precisely, signals its absence. And as the artwork’s site of reception – the embodied listener-reader-viewer, ‘you’ – I experience this paradoxical sign of presence and absence, even if I do not (yet) comprehend it. ‘Passage’ 5 : Recipient (Correspondence) (Fig.3.6) The air around me fills with sound in a near-cacophony of voices. A man’s voice. Cha’s voice. A woman’s voice speaking French. All of them, I surmise from the tone, content and salutation, are reading out

123



124

p o e tics a n d p lac e

letters. Meanwhile, on each of the screens I see packaged letters: these objects are the signs, the traces, of a written correspondence stacked and tied together, layer upon layer. The speaking voices perform this image, multiply and polyphonically enacting the temporality, distance and sequencing typical in written correspondence within the spacetime of this section of Passages Paysages. What is the significance of letter-writing as an act of correspondence for an appreciation of Passages Paysages? Letter-writing is a spatial practice of writing and circulation: an interactive address between ‘I’ and ‘you’ that is predicated on one person constructing a message in a particular spatiotemporal context that is received by another in a different spatiotemporal context. Similarly, Cha’s artwork is an address and, like a recipient who reads her letter at a later time, in another place, I receive Cha’s address in London’s Peer Gallery some 30 years after its production. Suggestively, in a previous section, ‘Projection (Gesture)’, I interpreted the image of the gesturing hand of the artwork as letting go of something and, simultaneously, opening up: an entreaty to me,



Fig.3.6

‘Passage’ 5: Kristen Kreider, image developed from working drawing of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Passages Paysages (2006) incorporating Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, manuscript and video stills of Passages Paysages from Constance M. Lewallen and Sabine Breitwieser, eds, Der Traum des Publikums/The Dream of the Audience.



p r o j e cti n g th e v o ic e

the recipient, to remember. A sense of responsibility was handed over to me, as the artwork’s site of reception. My question then was: ‘Will I be able to respond?’ At a remove from my experience of the artwork, I have responded. My interaction with Cha’s artwork throughout this essay thus constitutes an act of correspondence: an active (co)response, belatedly and from a distance.

Dear Theresa,

‘I’ and ‘you’ – we – correspond; thoughts and ideas circulate in a reciprocity of ‘voice’. This material and spatial dynamic of correspondence recalls my earlier description of Nancy’s ‘voice itself ’ as opening and projection: that point where the singular being opens up to and meets a plural existence. Whereas Nancy’s description, itself, recalls my even earlier discussion of Hannah Arendt in the Introduction; specifically, her understanding of primary exposure as that point where ‘Being and Appearing coincide’ (Arendt, Life 19). For me, Nancy’s phenomenology of voice thus echoes Arendt’s phenomenology of appearance. Indeed, the active projection of ‘voice itself ’ is not unlike the urge for selfdisplay described by Arendt. Meanwhile, Arendt’s understanding that we actively appear to one another through the shape of our body and the unique sound of our voice resonates with Nancy’s that our embodied voice, when projected, leads onto ‘voice itself ’. But if gaze positions us, voice directs our unique corporeal selves in relation to others. Someone speaks and I turn my head. Toward a soft voice, I move closer. When someone shouts, I run away. So, with echo as our guide, we can now situate ‘voice itself ’ and the dyadic relation between ‘I’ and ‘you’ in the political public sphere as theorised by Arendt. All of which holds implications for thinking about Passages Paysages insofar as I have argued that ‘voice itself ’ is experienced through the resonance of Cha’s multiple ‘voice’. We can now appreciate that, through its projection of ‘voice’, the artwork does more than open up a relationship between the artwork, as ‘I’, and myself as its site of reception, ‘you’. More broadly, it opens into relation with a plurality of ‘you’. All of which suggests the potential for an artwork such as Cha’s, with its intimate scene of address and material poetic strategies, to use such aesthetic strategies as a means whereby to ‘speak’ a message publically, and politically.

125



126

p o e tics a n d p lac e

‘Passage’ 6: Photograph (Wound) (Fig.3.7) The cinematic sequence transitions into the image of a landscape as seen through a window. We can read this image in relation to the following passage from Barthes’ Camera Lucida (1980), which I allude to parenthetically in my working drawing: The Photograph belongs to that class of laminated objects whose two leaves cannot be separated without destroying them both: the windowpane and the landscape, and why not: Good and Evil, desire and its object: dualities we can conceive but not perceive. (I didn’t know yet that this stubbornness of the Referent in always being there would produce the essence I was looking for.) (Barthes Camera 5–6)

The construction of Passages Paysages is predicated on the photograph and filmic still with, as Barthes says, its ‘stubbornness’ of the Referent or, as I am calling it, its ‘material indexicality’. However, we only encounter these photographic and filmic images in Passages Paysages through Cha’s complex cinematic apparatus. Tellingly, the



Fig.3.7

‘Passage’ 6: Kristen Kreider, image developed from working drawing of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Passages Paysages (2006) incorporating Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, manuscript and video stills of Passages Paysages from Constance M. Lewallen and Sabine Breitwieser, eds, Der Traum des Publikums/The Dream of the Audience.



p r o j e cti n g th e v o ic e

image of the landscape as seen through the window (above, Fig. 3.7) does not offer a view of the landscape directly through a pane of glass, as in Barthes’ analogy to the photograph; rather, we view the landscape through a window that is across the interior space of a room. Extending Barthes’ analogy, I liken this interior space and window frame to Cha’s cinematic apparatus, built up as it is around the photographic and filmic stills. The apparatus constructs a passage through our embodied and imaginative engagement with the artwork into this landscape or paysage: the faraway time and place imaged by the photograph; referential site of Cha’s personal history. After a series of image transitions into the landscape, looking ‘back’ at the room with the windows, the cinematic sequence settles on the photograph of a young girl seated next to a woman. In the manuscript for the piece Cha writes in this section: ‘CU of me’, which stands for ‘close-up of me’. The photograph is a close-up of Cha with (I am presuming) her mother. Something in this image affects me. How? What? I turn again to Barthes’ Camera Lucida where he describes the wound or punctum of the photographic image. On the one hand, the punctum alludes to a psychic wound or trauma: something ‘touches’ me in the photograph, triggering an unconscious wish or desire. On the other hand, the wound or punctum of the photograph is the historical force of the Referent that, importantly, can succeed death. Barthes recognises this second wound or punctum when gazing at a photograph of his mother, then dead, who stood as a young girl in the Winter Garden. What is traumatic for Barthes, what affects him in the image, is not the absence of his mother but her overwhelming presence in the image that fills him, he says, with a sense of ‘too-muchness’. ‘(I didn’t know yet that this stubbornness of the Referent in always being there would produce the essence I was looking for)’ (Barthes Camera 6). The essence or noeme is the superimposition of reality and the past within the photograph: it is the certainty that ‘the thing has been there’, and necessarily so. What Barthes intentionalises in the photograph – what he actively strives for in the production of its meaning – is this essence, this certainty. It is an assurance of the objective reality of the referent. What Barthes calls the ‘Referent’ I have called ‘index’, and it is this, I surmise, that affects me in this final sequence. For the trace of light from the photographic image is

127



128

p o e tics a n d p lac e

physically and existentially (i.e. indexically) related to Cha’s material presence: her face, and her face as affect.14 Tragically, Cha was killed in a street attack at the age of 31. Given the context in which I am engaging with this work, a spatial and temporal context some 30 years after her death, this triggers for me the recognition, now and overwhelmingly, of her absence in the world. Traces of this absence have registered in what I described previously as the haptic screen through which, I suggested, I experienced an opacity in the midst of Cha’s narrative of self-representation (see above ‘Passage’ 4: Screen [Touch]). I would now like to look at this haptic quality in Cha’s artwork in relation to what Thomas Elsaesser calls the ‘negative performance’ of trauma. Writing in ‘Postmodernism as Mourning Work’ (2001), Elsaesser argues that trauma – which eludes narrative integration or assimilation – is performative. ‘But if trauma belongs to the category of the performative,’ he writes, ‘it is nonetheless a special case: one would have to invent the category of the “negative performative”, because trauma affects the texture of experience by the apparent absence of traces’ (Elsaesser 199). The video dropout amidst Passages Paysages, becoming more pronounced over time as the videotape degrades, is such a ‘negative performance’ of trauma. The result, the hapticity of the screen image, affects the texture of my experience of the artwork through the absence of traces or what I have called elsewhere a ‘forgetting of light’. I am touched, affected, by this – by Cha’s material absence: an uncoded meaning within the artwork. Intrinsic to the ‘voice’ through which I am addressed and, thus, to my perception and reception of the artwork, this opacity at the heart of Passages Paysages has informed my performance of critical writing. With this in mind, I recall the discussion of Butler’s Giving an Account of Oneself with which I began. There I asked, does the ethical contract that Butler suggests, based on a tolerance for opacity, extend into the realm of aesthetics and criticism? Having experienced and responded – however obliquely – to the opacity inherent in Passages Paysages, I would now like to extend Butler’s ethical contract for the purposes of aesthetic relation. I propose an ethics of aesthetic relation that acknowledges and respects the limits



p r o j e cti n g th e v o ic e

of understanding even whilst attempting to communicate precisely through this. As I see it, the aesthetic strategies of the artworks in the next two chapters, in particular, operate under such an ethical contract. These artworks are each marked by fundamental opacity, a traumatic referent, through which they attempt to communicate, and of which they attempt to ‘speak’. Which is not to say that they attempt to fully represent what can be called their ‘fundamental opacity’ – to fully know or master it. This would, in fact, undermine the basis of the ethics of aesthetic relation that I am proposing. However, they do work with aesthetic strategies as a means of acknowledging, and respecting, their limitations whilst still endeavouring to communicate, thereby connecting with another or others in different ways, at different times, through different means. This ethical contract will, in turn, underpin my reception of these artworks as I endeavour to ‘listen’ and respond to that which is said, and that which is unsaid, in the artworks’ address. Ending (Light ‘Outside’) In her manuscript for Passages Paysages, Cha has written a note that falls ‘outside’ of the timeline: *Don’t forget the light15

Given my discussion throughout this chapter, this note is important. As it was in her personal manuscript, this note was written, presumably, to herself – and now it is received by me. This note echoes the entreaty in the first section of Passages Paysages materialised through the combination of Cha’s spoken voice and my scripted echo of this voice in my working drawing, alongside my transcription of Cha’s typed words on the screen: Remember remember allumer

I consider my engagement with this artwork an endeavour to honour this request: to remember Cha. Her exposure in the world. Her light.

129



4

Performing the Line: Fiona Templeton’s Cells of Release as Poetical/Political Activism

From 2 April to 17 May 1995, Fiona Templeton performed and installed a continuous line of poetry in one wing of the abandoned panopticon Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. Each day during the six weeks of her site-specific writing performance, Templeton entered the cellblock at Eastern State Penitentiary and wrote in solitude, one cell per day, while moving up through the cells on the left-hand side of the corridor and then down through the cells on the right-hand side. Without having read through any of her previous writing, Templeton would resume writing each day from the point where she had left off the day before. The resulting poetic line was continuous in that it was enacted daily and progressively throughout the duration of the project. The continuity of Templeton’s writing performance is reflected in, as much as it was enabled by, its material substrate: the end of one roll of paper was sewn directly onto the next to create an extensive, unbroken page. As Templeton moved through the cellblock, this page was draped across, hung over, threaded through, fastened onto and tied together with various elements of the prison’s architecture such as walls, ceilings and doorframes. Inhabiting each individual cell, Templeton also draped across, hung over, threaded through, fastened onto and tied together the page with the objects and things left therein. Templeton’s installation of the poetic line was left on site: a remnant – a trace – of her thoughts and her actions for visitors to experience, who were invited to the project only after its realisation and installation. Templeton’s project, entitled Cells of Release, was realised in collaboration with Amnesty International with the aim of bringing to light some of the organisation’s most urgent cases of human rights 130



p e r f o r m i n g th e li n e

violations worldwide. Each of the 37 cells in the prison block was dedicated to a then-current prisoner of conscience, with the old prison furniture serving as writing ‘stations’ for visitors to the installation. At each station, visitors found Amnesty International documents pertaining to a particular prisoner’s case as well as pen and paper to write, should they be so inclined, in petition on the prisoners’ behalf. Cells of Release remained on site for two years following Templeton’s performance (1995–97), during which time the case studies in the cells were updated in keeping with Amnesty International’s policy of urgent action.1 Since Templeton’s installation was removed prior to my engagement with the piece, my reception of Cells of Release has been through the project’s documentation in Templeton’s book of the same name (see Fig.4.1 below).2 The documentation of Cells of Release reads as a poem in its own right. This page-based poem is divided into a number of sections corresponding to the artwork’s installation on site. Laid out in lines centrally justified on the page, the poem begins with entrance and moves through the sequence of even-numbered cell and corridor spaces on the left-hand side of the block before turning to move through the mirroring sequence of odd-numbered cells and corridor spaces on the right. The lines printed on each page of the book correspond with those that were



Fig.4.1

Cover from Fiona Templeton, Cells of Release.

131



132

p o e tics a n d p lac e

scripted on the line on site in each respective cell or location in the corridor space. In Templeton’s reflective essay ‘Notes on Making Cells of Release’ (1996), which is published in the book Cells of Release, the poet describes how the central justification of the poem on the page relates to the prison’s architecture as well as to the human body’s symmetry. The following passage also alludes to the difficulty Templeton had representing her performance of the poem on site within a page-based format, as well as the difficulty that a reader might have grasping a sense of the performed poem through its published form: It is hard to represent on the pages of a book the physical continuity of the original writing…The breaks and new beginnings of pages are often false to my dailiness; often that was interrupted by my turning to face a new view into or out of a cell, or a scribble on a wall; often ‘I’ could write no longer in darkness or cold or damp; often ‘I’ was overwhelmed by my subject matter and my relation to it or lack of means of writing it. But the centralising of the phrases one above the other on the page is familiar as the block’s symmetry, that of the cell, of the central observation tower, and of the body. (Templeton, ‘Notes’ n. pag.)

The statement following this one refers to Templeton’s arduous search for poetic imagination amidst the concrete reality of the prison wing and the equally hard, unyielding facts presented within the Amnesty International case studies: Harder still to imagine on the page, perhaps, is the strange linearity of the writing that lost its past, went only on, structured only by the very physical awareness of repeated enterings and leavings, which seemed respectively single and general, and the long downward inward movement to the end of the block and up back out. Inside the cells my mind would circle reduced, looking for imagination but stubbing on the walls, the facts, yet again, yet again. ‘I’ could hardly keep myself in. The corridors stretched away, scale, the many, the walk. The writing probably says it. (Templeton, ‘Notes’ n. pag.)

Templeton communicates here, in prose, aspects of her poetic process in Cells of Release that potentially become lost – or simply remain undetected – in the documentation of her artwork within the space of the book. I, myself, found it difficult to fully appreciate the line’s generation and reception on site through the book format of Cells of Release.



p e r f o r m i n g th e li n e

I began to sense that meaningful connections inhered less ‘in the lines’ of the highly personal, meditative language of the poem and more ‘between the line’ and the site: that is, between the performed and installed line in the Eastern State Penitentiary and the prison’s architectural order and material qualities, the prisoners who once inhabited the cells, the prisoners of conscience whose case studies were placed in each cell and its eventual reception by a readerviewer. As it happens, when I ordered a copy of Cells of Release for my research, I received one copy direct from the publisher (Roof ) and another from a small bookshop. This accidental over-ordering on my part proved fruitful. Knowing that one copy of the book would remain ‘untouched’, I decided to engage physically – some might say intrusively – with the other copy. Taking the book itself as a site, I devised specific tactics for performing it that I hoped would offer some insight into the performance of Templeton’s line on site at the Eastern State Penitentiary. First, I grafted a poem out of Templeton’s own by going through the book, page by page, and selecting a single line of text from each section, ultimately comprising another poem. I imagined that this process of moving page-by-page and ‘composing’ a poem in the process would shed light on Templeton’s movement cell-by-cell when composing her poem Cells of Release. Second, I drew a line through the book, in pencil. I thought that this act would offer insight into the physicality of Templeton’s act of writing the line. Considering that I needed a way to structure my line drawing through the book – also taking into account my interest in the subjective relation between ‘I’ and ‘you’, generally, and in the poem, specifically – I decided to connect all of the instances of ‘I’ in the poem together with my hand-drawn line. I then drew another line connecting together all of the instances of ‘you’. Aimed at yielding insight into the performance, installation and reception of Templeton’s line on site, I employed each of these tactics to aid my performance of critical writing. In this chapter, I discuss each tactic employed before moving into the critical response that each has yielded.

133



134

p o e tics a n d p lac e

Tactic 1: Grafting Grafting a poem from Cells of Release, I moved through the book and selected one of the centrally justified lines from each section (e.g. entrance, cell 2, corridor, etc.), underlining it with black ink. I then linked one chosen line with the next by drawing a straight black ink line between the two. Just as Templeton did not read over any previously written text upon entering the prison block each day, neither did I read over any of my previously selected lines as I ‘entered’ each section of the book. Moving from one section to the next and selecting lines, I found myself repeating a previous line or lines. Sometimes I would say the words out loud, other times I would allow them to resound silently in my mind. Spoken or silent, the recent history of my emerging poetic line reverberated into each present moment, sustaining a sense of continuity throughout the selection process. Echo became the guide for my poetic construction: a means of holding words and phrases, their sound and their sense, within my short-term memory in order to establish connections between one line and the next. I found that I could easily hold in my mind a previous phrase, or even up to three phrases; however, I struggled to recall what I had selected all those minutes, hours, pages ago. Progressing through the book, any hope of prolonging a long-term cohesion between past selections with present and ensuing ones waned. This process of ‘writing’ was very unlike that in which coherence is established by means of an overarching generative or organisational structure, narrative or rhetorical argument. Rather, continuity was short-lived and ephemeral, interrelationships fleeting and never fixed. The entire process was a becoming of the ‘now’ in relation to its near past and I was afraid to begin again now I don’t want to alter its time-drawn maps my world is small but I add it to yours through these spaces

Fig.4.2

Example of five lines grafted from Fiona Templeton, Cells of Release.



p e r f o r m i n g th e li n e

near future, cultivating a continual present through the repetition, selection and connection of lines.3 I experienced Cells of Release through this tactic of grafting as a cumulative effect of remembering throughout momentary repetitions of the ‘same’: those echoing phrases that morphed and changed with each ensuing connection. This was coupled with a recognition of memory’s inevitable loss over time. Relating this particular performance of the book as a site to Templeton’s poetic process, I look at how repetition, difference and memory figure in the Eastern State Penitentiary, Templeton’s embodied spatial practice of it and the language of the poem Cells of Release. Repetition and Difference in the Eastern State Penitentiary Foremost in all prison design is the sense of repetition of identical elements (the cells) evident internally as much as on the external façade: the Eastern State Penitentiary is no exception to this rule. The plan of the building reveals the configuration of a Panopticon, a central surveillance tower surrounded by seven radiating blocks or ‘arms’ beaded with individual cells along the length of their two sides (see Fig. 4.3). In Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (1975), Michel Foucault discusses the relationship between Panopticon architecture



Fig.4.3

Plan of Eastern State Penitentiary taken from Fiona Templeton, Cells of Release.

135



136

p o e tics a n d p lac e

and disciplinary power. Looking closely at the ideal architectural model of the Panopticon as it was formulated by Jeremy Bentham, Foucault argues that the configuration of the Panopticon, with individual cells made visible at all times to those inhabiting a central watchtower, intentionally instilled in the inmate a sense of permanent surveillance. Foucault compares the configuration of cells to ‘so many small theatres, in which each actor is alone, perfectly individualized and constantly visible’ (Foucault 201). Architecturally, the prisoner in the Panopticon was, at one and the same time, both on display and isolated.4 This combination of isolation and visibility was intended to ensure order as well as to ‘induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power’ (Foucault 201). The awareness of being continuously the object of a powerful and disciplinary gaze would conceivably encourage law-abiding, good behaviour in prisoners less from the fear of repercussion for bad behaviour and more from an internalised sense of the mechanics of power. The allusion here to Foucault is particularly resonant given that, in The Practice of Everyday Life (1974), Michel de Certeau presents his theory of spatial practice, which I have drawn from in previous chapters, through recourse to Foucault’s Discipline and Punish. Deeming the city founded by utopian and urbanistic discourse as the ‘Concept-city’, de Certeau argues that the Concept-city reflects the attempt of a ‘panoptic administration’ to regulate or eliminate the ‘swarming activity’ of a walker’s everyday movements or spatial practice: ‘microbe-like, singular and plural practices which [this] urbanistic system was supposed to administer or suppress’ (de Certeau 96). The spatial order or place of the Concept-city relates to Foucault’s notion of ‘disciplinary power’, as embodied by the Panopticon: as a mode of organisation, it manages movement and, along with it, human relations. For disciplinary power to be effective, a society’s collective movements or spatial practices must operate in accordance with the spatial order of such apparatuses. However, de Certeau argues, ‘spatial practices in fact secretly structure the determining conditions of social life’, not the apparatuses themselves (de Certeau 96). As such, a reappropriation of the spatial order on the part of an individual – the enactment of a



p e r f o r m i n g th e li n e

spatial practice contradicting the ‘collective mode of administration’ (de Certeau 96) – has the potential to, in effect, restructure the determining conditions of social life. De Certeau’s analysis of Foucault helps us to better appreciate the power dynamic inherent in the spatial order and spatial practices of the Eastern State Penitentiary. What I shall call the ‘disciplinary spatial order’ is reflected in the architectural syntax of the prison itself: the centralised watchtower with radiating ‘arms’, the walls, corridors and cells of each block (see Fig.4.3). This repetitive order was enacted through the equally repetitive structuring of inmates’ time as well as through spatial practices moving in accordance with the functioning of the Law, be they those that represent the Law (guards and wardens) or those whom the Law seeks to control (prisoners). For example, a watchman entering the cellblock would, encouraged by the architectural syntax of the space, move into the block and up through the corridor to look into all of the cells on the left-hand side, then turn to move down through the corridor and look into all of the cells on the right-hand side, before exiting the block from its point of entry (see Fig.4.4). In this manner, the guards and watchmen embodied the disciplinary gaze of the Panopticon. The movement of the inmates, when accompanied by a guard, would be channelled through the long corridor space in keeping with its architectural syntax before entering their private cells where movement was confined and controlled by the four walls, one window and one door of each cell. The architectural



Fig.4.4

Plan of corridor in Eastern State Penitentiary from Fiona Templeton, Cells of Release.

137



138

p o e tics a n d p lac e

syntax thus structures the enactment of a prisoner’s ‘sentence’. A prisoner who broke with this order of movement and confinement would be, in effect, breaking the Law. (Having said this, a prisoner might, for example, be able to move through a space more slowly or more quickly than deemed appropriate; move while singing, shouting or with an inappropriate gait or style. This could, conceivably, enact a resistance to the disciplinary order through a deviant performance of it, even if not breaking formally with its dictation.) If the architectural syntax reflects the disciplinary order of the prison, I understand the placement of objects and things in each cell to construct a ‘personal spatial order’. This personal spatial order would have been enacted through the spatial practices of individual and isolated bodies in the cells. So, for example, an inmate may have moved between the bed, desk and chair as well as other objects in the cell that, altogether, made up its particular order. Conceivably, the spatial order of the cell and an inmate’s practice of it could offer the capacity for some resistance to the disciplinary apparatus and its pattern of architectural and temporal repetition. For example, each prisoner inhabiting the cell could arrange the objects and things in it in their own particular configuration, or place personal items that they might have brought or been given amongst the standard prison furniture. An inmate might also write on the walls, use the chair to bang against the bed, sleep on the floor or stay up all night. Having said this, the internalisation of a disciplinary gaze would, presumably – and in keeping with the notion of disciplinary power – keep the isolated prisoners in each cell from such deviant activity: in other words, keep them in line. Repetition and Difference in Templeton’s Performance of Cells of Release The disciplinary and the personal are the two spatial orders, albeit in a ruined and decaying state, that Templeton encountered upon entering the derelict wing of the Eastern State Penitentiary. Beginning at the entrance and moving through the cells on the left-hand side, then down through those on the right-hand side before exiting, it would appear that the disciplinary order reflected in the Eastern State Penitentiary’s architectural syntax determines Templeton’s overarching trajectory; hence, the structure of Cells of Release. In an



p e r f o r m i n g th e li n e

interview I held with Templeton in 2004, she alludes to this when describing how the architectural conditions contributed to the overall shape of the piece: One thing was the repetitive nature of the prison – and particularly those kinds of prisons that have an individual and another individual and another individual. Each has to be subject to the same conditions so that when you go there, you experience following a trajectory which then detours into a particular individual and then comes back out, the trajectory follows, you detour into another individual – and that’s necessarily how you visit the place because that’s what it physically makes you do…That very necessary physicality impressed me as the necessary shape of the piece. (Templeton, ‘Interview’ n. pag.)

In like manner, Templeton’s ritualistically repeated act of returning to the prison each day echoes the temporal order of the prison’s disciplinary regime. And yet, while the spatiality and temporality of Templeton’s performance would appear to mimic discipline, in fact her embodied spatial practice of moving, writing and installing the line reveals a deviant enaction of it. For rather than a straight line moving down the corridor, like the straight line of a warden’s gait or a prisoner moving in accord with the Law, the installed line – a trace of Templeton’s peripatetic performance of the prison’s order – droops, hangs, elevates and criss-crosses (see Fig.4.5 below). And rather than simply peering into the cells (as a warden might) or entering into only one cell (as an inmate might), Templeton physically and imaginatively entered into each of the cells flanking the corridor, as evidenced by the line installed therein. Moreover, while the daily routine of Templeton’s six-week writing performance suggests disciplinary regime, the experiential specificity inherent in her durational poetic process would undoubtedly syncopate – and thereby disrupt – any such strictness. Templeton’s repeated inhabitation of each identical cell bred continual difference as she engaged, differently each time and in each cell, with the personal spatial order of objects and things therein. For example, in one cell Templeton threaded the line through bedsprings that once supported an inmate’s body (see Fig.4.6 below). In another she draped the line across an object that once mirrored an inmate’s reflection (Fig.4.7 below). Templeton’s act of inhabiting the identical

139



140

p o e tics a n d p lac e



Fig.4.5

View through corridor space from Fiona Templeton, Cells of Release.

cells thus reveals a differential practice of each, informed by their respective personal spatial order. This cultivates a different relation to each of the former inhabitants. For the objects and things found in each cell refer to bodies who once inhabited the now-defunct architecture: bodies that moved through the order of objects and things, bodies that touched their surfaces. And while the relation between these objects and the inhabitants is not immediate, the objects allow one to imagine the bodies and movements of these people now gone. Meanwhile, Templeton’s scripted line becomes a trace – an index – of her hand as it writes. It also traces her trajectory: her body’s movements and fluctuating positions through the site. When installed amongst these objects and things in the cells, Templeton’s line weaves a trace of the poet’s scriptural ‘voice’ and movements together with the imagined movements and touch of the inmates’ bodies. Templeton’s corporeal presence and the imagined presence of the former inmates can therefore be ‘read’ together, differently each time, as when, in the examples above, her line is read in relation to the bedsprings or the mirror across which it is draped. Woven and read together, the poet and the former inmates are brought close – into contact – and yet respected in their difference, just as the line in the images above is physically distinct from the objects it touches.



Fig.4.6



Fig.4.7

Line woven into bedsprings taken from Fiona Templeton, Cells of Release.

Line draped across mirror from Fiona Templeton, Cells of Release.



142

p o e tics a n d p lac e

Along with Templeton’s detour into individual cells, the material quality of the prison itself leads her to deviate from a trajectory strictly in keeping with the disciplinary spatial order of the site. For example, in Fig. 4.8 the darkness of a corner inclines the poet toward it, while in Fig. 4.9 the vault of a ceiling with its glare of light leads her up to it. That an engagement with the materiality of the prison influenced Templeton’s trajectory is evident in the poem itself. For example, in the following phrase the poet’s words gravitate toward a window: the line rises towards the window

(Cell 6, 22) 5

Here, a stain on the wall is envisioned as a face from which the poet writes away: soiled fingers writing my hands dirty marking time the stain on the wall looks like a face as I write my way away from it

(Cell 10, 84–89)



Fig.4.8

Line inclined toward darkness from Fiona Templeton, Cells of Release.



p e r f o r m i n g th e li n e



Fig.4.9

Line inclined toward light from Fiona Templeton, Cells of Release.

Elsewhere, a root growing into the wall of a cell guides the written line, twining the physicality of the space with the imagined body of a prisoner and the poet’s envisioning of their death: a root growing over in into a man still a child into a wall into the earth

(Cell 12, 56–63)

Ultimately, Templeton’s repeated act of entering and exiting the prison each day for six weeks is seemingly aligned with the disciplinary order of the Eastern State Penitentiary. However, we find that this enactment of the prison is, in fact, marked by detour and difference as her performance of moving, writing and installing the material poetic line cultivates differing relations to the objects and things in each cell, as well as to the material qualities of the site.

143



144

p o e tics a n d p lac e

Repetition and Difference in the Poem Cells of Release Repetition coupled with difference not only characterises the spatial order of Eastern State Penitentiary and Templeton’s embodied spatial practice of it, it is also characteristic of the poem itself. Repeating sounds, words and/or phrases embody fluctuations in meaning that can be read in relation to aspects of the installed artwork, the Amnesty International case studies placed in each cell and the site of the prison itself. Instances of such patterns exist throughout the poem. In this excerpt from the poem in Cell 10, time shifts and changes: time pushes by tears by grinds by pounds by burns by claws by racks by ekes by (Cell 10, 11–18)

Time is perceived actively: it ‘pushes’ (11), ‘tears’ (12), ‘grinds’ (13), ‘pounds’ (14), ‘burns’ (15), ‘claws’ (16), ‘racks’ (17) and ‘ekes’ (18) by relative to a point in stasis: the prisoners in their cells. The implication here is that a prolonged incarceration has radical and dynamic effects on the isolated, confined – often tortured – body. In Cell 18, the word ‘memories’ repeats: memories memories memories memories memories memories memories memories memories (Cell 18, 7–15)

This entire pattern is subsequently repeated in the same cell, with the addition of one word:



p e r f o r m i n g th e li n e

untried memories untried memories untried memories untried memories untried memories untried memories untried memories untried memories untried memories (Cell 18, 23–31)

In the next inhabited cell, Cell 20, the pattern repeats again – with yet another change: no memories no memories no memories no memories no memories no memories no memories no memories no memories (Cell 20, 19–27)

The word ‘memories’ thus repeats and is, ultimately, transformed into ‘no memories’. This reflects, more generally, how throughout the entire performance of Cells of Release memory becomes ‘lost’ over time – as it might, indeed, be lost to a prisoner held in prolonged incarceration. One line in the poem attests to the ‘I’s loss of memory: I’ve come half way up one side of the block and can’t remember what I wrote all those days weeks cells ago. (Cell 20; Corridor, 3)

The inability to recall the line in its entirety produces the ‘strange linearity’ that Templeton refers to in ‘Notes on Making Cells of Release’ when she states, as quoted above, ‘[h]arder still to imagine on the page, perhaps, is the strange linearity of the writing that lost its past’ (Templeton, ‘Notes’ n. pag.) Such ‘strangeness’ is alluded to in yet another line from the poem:

145



146

p o e tics a n d p lac e

I’m fighting the amnesia of this single line of time. (Cell 2; Corridor, 1)

This suggests that even as the performance of the line in Cells of Release was experienced, as it was realised, from one moment to the next, the poem itself and its installation on site, ultimately, has the structure of forgetting. In the Corridor following Cell 26 one finds the following pattern repeating ‘count’ in a number of variations: accounting accountable uncounted you count body count

(Cell 26; Corridor, 5–9)

The first word here, ‘accounting’, (5) brings to mind the seemingly innocuous act of calculating numbers: numbers that, in themselves, bear no relation to the ‘real’ world of objects and things. The next word repeats the syllable ‘count’, but the word used implies that one can be held ‘accountable’ (6) for something: an action, event or deed. The next word, ‘uncounted’ (7) again repeats ‘count’, here introducing the word’s relation to objects or things: the ‘uncounted’ are those objects or things, including people, who remain ‘outside’ of a numerical ordering system. Following this, ‘you count’ (8) introduces volition as the words address a ‘you’ responsible for the act of counting. The final line, ominously, is ‘body count’ (9), a number that refers to people – bodies – now dead. Through the pattern of repeating the syllable ‘count’, the connotation of the line thus shifts from a seemingly benign act of number-crunching through to a very specific relation between the word ‘count’ and human casualty and death. Meanwhile, the transition, itself, introduces moral accountability and ethical responsibility with ‘you’ factored into the equation. In cell 26, the directional nature ‘across’ repeats, while the objective reference of the accompanying noun changes:



p e r f o r m i n g th e li n e

across a sea across a border across a wall across a door across language across skin across eyes across the head across the face (Cell 26, 26–34)

Not only do the objects referred to by the words change, so too does their article: a shift in indication from the universal (‘a’) to the particular (‘the’) accompanies the referent’s transition across spatial boundaries, language and the body. The shift is from an oceanic expanse to the particularity of a human face, which I interpret as the corporeal specificity of the prisoners in each case study that the poet engages with throughout her performance of the line. Elsewhere, in the Corridor outside Cell 30, ‘shut’ repeats, and allows the words accompanying it to change its direction and transform its implication: shut out shut in shut up shut down (Cell 30; Corridor, 8–11)

While the multiple directions – ‘out’ (8), ‘in’ (9), ‘up’ (10), ‘down’ (11) – suggest vectors of spatial potential, coupled with the word ‘shut’ they imply constriction and constraint. Presented in four lines, the pattern offers a sense of cubical containment that relates to the prisoners’ reality: ‘shut out’ (8) of society, ‘shut in’ (9) a cell, ‘shut up’ (10) without the ability to speak, ‘shut down’ (11) since, in many of the Amnesty International cases, the prisoners are either killed or sentenced to death. In the section Outer End Wall that marks the end-point of the cellblock, two words with similar sounds are repeated, shuttling back and forth:

147



148

p o e tics a n d p lac e

message passage message passage message passage

(Outer End Wall, 33–38)

‘Message’ and ‘passage’ are used interchangeably, suggesting a relation between them. Indeed, a message is the passage of communication from one to another. In relation to the artwork, the ‘passages’ in Cells of Release (the passage of time, Templeton’s passage throughout the prison, passages of the poem) become a ‘message’: the performed poem is an act of communication. This idea is strengthened given that, throughout the poem, Templeton uses the first-person ‘I’: the artwork is the ‘passage’ of a ‘message’ (itself the ‘message’ of a ‘passage’) from addresser to addressee, a communicative exchange between ‘I’ and ‘you’. Tactic 2: Drawing Drawing a line through Cells of Release (see Fig. 4.10 below), I moved through each section of the book, from entrance to exit, connecting together all of the instances of ‘I’. I then went through the book again, drawing together all of the instances of ‘you’. Throughout my trajectory I began to realise that the instances of ‘I’ were more pronounced in the first part of the book (in Templeton’s movement into the corridor and through the cells on the left-hand side), while the instances of ‘you’ became more predominant in the second part (in Templeton’s movement out of the corridor and through the cells on the right-hand side). My sense was of ‘I’ becoming ‘you’ until, eventually, the poet’s ‘I’ is written out of the poem altogether. Indeed, it is an ex-prisoner of conscience, T. Kumar, who scripts the line in the last cell. For me, the act of drawing a line through Cells of Release was an exercise in scale and tempo: intimately, my hand moved across the page, curved each middling stanza, slipped into the gutter and then back out again. At the time of its making, the line existed,



p e r f o r m i n g th e li n e



Fig.4.10

Drawing a line throughout Fiona Templeton, Cells of Release.

for me, in the present tense: ‘The line is a visible action,’ says Roland Barthes in ‘Cy Twombly: Works on Paper’ (1979) (Barthes, ‘Cy’ 170). After the act, the line remained as a visual, material trace of my embodied gesture. In ‘The Art of the Written Image’ (1998) literary theorist and poetic practitioner Johanna Drucker writes: ‘The gestural mark is a trace of the very act of production as dynamic action. The trace makes itself in the dynamic pleasure of material making and as such, remains a sign which has not yet reached the threshold of meaning’ (Drucker, ‘Art’ 65). I agree with Drucker that this gestural mark or trace may not (yet) have reached the threshold of symbolic-meaning, but I do consider it to have indexical-meaning, understood in a material sense. The drawn line is a sign whose indexical-meaning references my act of drawing: my embodied gesture as I perform the line in a specific spatiotemporal location. Templeton’s line on site likewise has indexical-meaning,

149



150

p o e tics a n d p lac e

referencing the poet’s embodied gesture through a scriptural trace that is, to borrow the words of de Certeau, ‘a mark in place of acts, a relic in place of performance[s]’ (de Certeau 35). Left on site for visitors to engage with, Templeton’s trace – the material memory of her performative act6 – could be followed (remembered) by visitors to the installation: a relic for their embodied performance. I am interested in how this both situates Templeton’s artwork within a poetic lineage, whilst marking her deviation from this through the particular relation that Templeton’s poetics have to the place of the Eastern Sate Penitentiary, as well as the political imperative behind her project. (I discuss this in the first section below, ‘Cells of Release as a Relic for Performance’). Importantly, Templeton’s line in Cells of Release not only has indexical-meaning, but also symbolic-meaning, reading as a verbal message. The handwritten poem can thus be understood as a composite of indexical-symbols. Through this, Cells of Release is able to ‘speak’ linguistically as well as through its material qualities in order to complement Amnesty International’s goal of soliciting activists to write letters in petition on behalf of prisoners incarcerated and abused worldwide. Moreover, the interchangeability of the firstand second-person pronoun positions in Cells of Release combines with the material quality of Templeton’s handwritten line on site to give ‘voice’ to the prisoners, themselves. (I look at this in the second section below, ‘To Speak on Behalf of Another’). Cells of Release as a Relic for Performance Describing Templeton’s poem as a ‘relic for performance’ resonates with the poet Charles Olson’s phrase ‘score for performance’ in his essay ‘Projective Verse’ (1950). In this essay, Olson discusses the technique of ‘projective verse’ or ‘open form’, realised in and through ‘composition by field’. ‘Projective verse’, Olson argues, implies an energetic transfer between the body of the poet to the reader when the poetic form is determined by process: the process of the poet’s embodied perception, one following another. This correspondence is realised through spaces on the page that, he argues, are the measure of the poet’s breath. For Olson, the breath – or body – of the poet is thus the driving force behind the line: an index to the



p e r f o r m i n g th e li n e

poet and an embodiment of the poetic process. The line, in turn, becomes a ‘score’ through which the reader can relate to the rhythm, tempo and thrust of the body in the poem. The breath and body of the poet in the line are therefore the generating force of poetic construction, allowing for the energetic transfer between poet and reader. Meanwhile, the page – in its entirety – becomes a ‘field’ for this composition by line. Olson’s projective verse, resulting in a page-based composition by field, is exemplified in his published poems such as his major work The Maximus Poems (1960). This important collection is referred to by poet and critic Kathleen Fraser who, writing in ‘Translating the Unspeakable: Visual Poetics, as Projected through Olson’s “Field” into Current Female Writing Practices’ (1988), looks at Olson’s influence on contemporary poets, and particularly innovative women poets making use of visual poetic strategies in their writing. Here Fraser cites, for example, Barbara Guest, Susan Howe and Hannah Weiner (Fraser 646). For Fraser, Olson impelled women poets’ expansion onto the full page where they could employ and experiment with aspects of visual as well as verbal prosody. Moreover, she argues, Olson’s ‘Projective Verse’ served as an ‘antidote’ to mainstream lyric poetries (Fraser 644). Ultimately, Fraser claims Olson as the forebear of contemporary experimental women poets who use the page as a ‘field’ for composition from which is banished what Fraser calls the ‘essential “I”’ as a unitary proposition. Both Templeton and Olson focus on movement and what Olson calls a ‘kinetics of the thing’, emphasising perception as well as process within the generation of poetic form. Given Templeton’s concern with the visual aspect of her poetry, one can compare Cells of Release with the work of her contemporaries who work visually with the space of the page, as discussed by Fraser. Nevertheless, there are significant differences between Templeton’s poetics in Cells of Release and Olson’s, as well as between her artwork and the work of her contemporaries. These differences stem from the particular relationship between Templeton’s poetics and place as well as from the political imperative behind Templeton’s project. I will discuss these in turn. Templeton’s sustained inhabitation of, and engagement with, the prison as a site for her writing, as well as the consequent installation of 7

151



152

p o e tics a n d p lac e

the line on site as a relic for performance, evidences a relation between her poetics and place that distinguishes Cells of Release. Throughout this performance, Templeton enacts the scriptural order of her written text in keeping with the protocol of a Western, phonetic scriptural order – scripting her words on the page from left to right – but she does so with a twist. More precisely, she does so with multiples twists, turns, curves and drapes as she installs the actual page throughout the prison’s spatial order. A reader of the line on site, following along with the scriptural order, would also enact these deviations; however, it is not likely that a reader of the poem on site would actually read the poem from left-to-right, as one would a more conventional page-based poem. It is more likely that the visitor engaging with the poem on site would do so taking into account both the architectural spatial order of the prison as well as the visual spatial order of the installed line, neither of which are tied to a scriptural order’s left-toright protocol. In other words, the spatiality of the poem is organised through a verbal coupled with a visual and architectural order, thereby differentiating Templeton’s poetics of place from that of Olson and many of Templeton’s contemporaries discussed by Fraser, who are working primarily with visual poetic strategies on the page. The relationship between Templeton’s poetics and the place of the Eastern State Penitentiary also implies a different scale of the ‘full page’ for Templeton than for Olson and her contemporaries. For the latter, the page is taken to the extreme of the margins while, for Templeton, the fullness of the page extends beyond even the margins to the site of the prison block. This results in a different ‘composition by field’, with Templeton’s line generating a field at a much larger scale than Olson’s anticipates, moving from the page to the three-dimensional field of the prison block. Templeton’s performance of this field also solicits a different position through which the reader-viewer relates to the poem. With a page-based composition, the reader-viewer is ‘up above’, offered a bird’s-eye view of potential journeys. Looking down onto the page is like looking at a map so that the poem becomes a visual-textual topography for the reader’s engagement. In contrast, Cells of Release enacts a visual and spatial trajectory through a site where the reader-viewer is ‘on the ground’, following in her footsteps. Engaging with the poem on site as a visual-verbal-spatial relic for



p e r f o r m i n g th e li n e

performance, there is no point at which the reader-viewer has a full or complete view of the entire poem: there are always elements of the poem hidden from view, whatever position the reader-viewer takes. In addition to Templeton’s poetic performance of place, the political imperative behind Cells of Release distinguishes her work. In his essay, Olson incites the poet to ‘get on with it, keep moving, keep in, speed, the nerves, their speed, the perceptions, theirs, the acts, the split second acts, the whole business, keep it moving as fast as you can, citizen…’ (Olson, ‘Projective’ 27). This statement, while related to Templeton’s in its emphasis on perception and movement, is anomalous to Templeton’s slow process of enacting her poetic meditation throughout the cellblock in Cells of Release. This slow and contemplative pace is, moreover, solicited of the reader-viewer of the poem, arguably in order to encourage each recipient to take the time to think about the political imperative behind the artwork. The political imperative behind Cells of Release also requires a different embodied relationship to the reader than Olson’s projective verse. With Templeton’s poem, the poet’s body is not registered through breath, as with Olson’s, but through the ‘grain’ of her gestural, peripatetic and scriptural ‘voice’. Installed on site, the line registers her hand’s motion and her body’s progression as she wrote her continuous line through the prison: a site that, itself, was once inhabited by bodies; a site filled with references, in the form of the Amnesty International case studies, to yet other bodies. What becomes ‘transferred’, in Olson’s view, ‘by way of the poem itself to, all the way over to, the readers’ (Olson 27) is not Templeton’s breath and, through this, her individual corporeality. Rather, it is the material ‘grain’ of the body in her hand as its writes and performs; through this, her body’s relation to the site as well as to the multiple bodies of former detainees and those bodies referred to by the case studies. So, where Olson’s score for performance connects, through the poem, the reader’s body with the poet’s, Templeton’s connects the recipient’s body with her own and, through this, a multitude of other bodies. This crucial difference allows Templeton’s artwork to communicate – both through language and through the artwork’s material properties – the plight of the prisoners of conscience referred to by the Amnesty International case studies, ultimately giving ‘voice’ to such people.

153



154

p o e tics a n d p lac e

Related to the political imperative in Cells of Release, Templeton does not reject the reflective ‘I,’ as do Olson and many of Templeton’s contemporaries cited above. Indeed, rather than a ‘break’ from writing that employs a vocalised ‘I’, Templeton sustains a continued engagement with the ‘I’. This reveals the very notion of a unified ‘I’ as untenable. But more importantly for Templeton’s purposes, inhabiting this subject position throughout Cells of Release exposes how the ‘I’ is continually fluctuating in relation to ‘you’ and to others, thereby unveiling the dynamic and intersubjective potential of the ‘I’ not just poetically, but also politically. This is crucial as it enables Templeton to realise the political imperative behind the project, which is to speak on behalf of others. To Speak on Behalf of Another Intrinsic to Cells of Release is the artwork’s solicitation to visitors to write a letter on behalf of the prisoners of conscience referred to by the Amnesty International case studies. Templeton’s inclusion of these case studies in each cell means that the organisation’s particular form of communication is used to solicit this response from the reader-viewer. What interests me, however, is how the communicative capacity of Templeton’s artwork complements Amnesty International’s solicitation, further inciting people to take action. For this, Elaine Scarry’s book The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World (1985) is important.8 Scarry looks at how pain is incontestably, and often unbearably, part of the physical reality of the body; however, the same pain in another’s body, even a body in close proximity, is unverifiable. Pain thus ensures an ‘absolute split between one’s sense of one’s own reality and the reality of other persons’ (Scarry 4). This, according to Scarry, is the reason why torture is even possible: one can be in a room with another person, inflict pain on that person and not actually feel the pain inflicted – to the point of denying its effect; by dissociating oneself from the body in pain, one has the capacity to inflict further injury. This is also what leads Scarry to look at the difficulties inherent in communicating the body in pain. Pain is a completely subjective experience, she argues, and is by its very nature inexpressible in symbolic language: ‘physical pain – unlike



p e r f o r m i n g th e li n e

any other state of consciousness – has no referential content. It is not of or for anything’ (Scarry 5). It is because pain ‘takes no object that it, more than any other phenomenon, resists objectification in language,’ Scarry writes (Scarry 5). This resistance to language means that pain can be evoked through analogy and metaphor, but never, itself, symbolised. Even so, Scarry writes, organisations like Amnesty International attest to a dependence on language to communicate to the general public the predicament of those in pain. ‘Amnesty International’s ability to bring about the cessation of torture depends centrally on its ability to communicate the reality of physical pain to those who are not themselves in pain,’ Scarry writes (Scarry 9). This must be done, Scarry maintains, with ‘the greatest possible tact’ since they are dealing with ‘the most intimate realm of another human being’s body’ (Scarry 9). Their use of language is evident in their publication of objective, third-person narrative accounts detailing the plight of, for example, torture victims, political prisoners and prisoners of conscience. Through these publications, Amnesty International implore readers to write on behalf of persons who are often unable to speak or to write because of their incarceration and abuse. Scarry argues that, in taking political action through letterwriting, the letter-writer is ‘speaking on behalf ’ and ‘speaking in the voice’ of the person silenced so as to provide the hurt person ‘with worldly self-extension’ (Scarry 50). To speak ‘on behalf ’ of another suggests that the letter-writer positions herself as ‘I’ to speak on ‘their’ (the prisoners’) behalf to a recipient, ‘you’, of the letter. To speak ‘in the voice’ of another, however, suggests that the letter-writer, as ‘I’, actually inhabits the voice of the prisoners to speak to ‘you’, the recipient of the letter. But how is it possible to speak ‘in the voice’ of another if, as I have argued, each voice is unique to each corporeal being? If we understand voice solely in terms of its material quality, this is indeed impossible. However, in the last chapter I looked, via Jean-Luc Nancy’s phenomenology of voice, at ‘voice itself ’ as a means whereby the unique being projects herself into the world and into relations with others. I now suggest that, without the sufferer’s own capacity to project her voice into the world, Amnesty International solicits the letter-writer to project herself into that

155



156

p o e tics a n d p lac e

projected space of the sufferer, thereby extending the sufferer into the world. In this sense, to speak ‘in the voice of ’ another is not to inhabit the unique corporeal voice of another but, rather, to speak or write another’s projection of ‘voice’. All of which implies that the letter-writer, in speaking on behalf of another, is thereby speaking another’s projection into the world. Or, reintroducing my discussion of Nancy’s phenomenology in relation to Hannah Arendt’s from the previous chapter, the letter-writer is effectively projecting the sufferer into the political public sphere, where her ‘voice’ is otherwise absent – but absolutely necessary. Throughout the Amnesty International publications, the sufferer is represented through objective, third-person narrative accounts. I suggest that, when speaking or writing the sufferer’s projection into the world, this projection is located, grammatically, in the thirdperson position. Émile Benveniste writes in ‘The Nature of Pronouns’ (1956) that the third-person grammatical position is of an ‘entirely different nature’ than the speaking subjects ‘I’ and ‘you’ in that it is not indicative of the instance of discourse (Benveniste, ‘Pronouns’ 220). The third-person is not tied to the instance of discourse or reflective of the discursive subjectivity of the one speaking or being spoken about. I therefore posit that the letter-writer projects another’s selfextension or ‘voice’ into the world, enacting this projection from the position of her own first-person ‘I’, so that this projection of ‘voice’ – located grammatically in the third-person position and objectively in the world – is held there, intact and outside of either the letterwriter or sufferer, until such time as the sufferer can again take up a discursive subject position within the political public sphere. So how does Templeton’s artwork complement Amnesty International’s aim of soliciting one to write a letter on behalf of a prisoner of conscience – to project the ‘voice’ of the body in pain? As Scarry notes, it is impossible to represent the body in pain using symbolic language. As such, the horrors of incarceration and the body in pain can be regarded as an ‘uncoded’ meaning: the traumatic referent of Templeton’s artwork. It is this meaning that Templeton’s artwork helps to communicate – if, that is, we acknowledge that the architectural syntax and material qualities of the Eastern State Penitentiary are intrinsic to the message of Cells of Release, as I



p e r f o r m i n g th e li n e

do. In doing so, I begin to imagine how these aspects are able to communicate to the artwork’s recipient, and to what effect. For example, when reading of a Capuchin monk detained for nonviolent activism in Argentina, a couple imprisoned for disseminating information in China or an 11-year-old girl raped in custody in India, I imagine that one would understand these horrors differently – that is, experientially and viscerally – when this reading takes place within the cells of an abandoned penitentiary with its flaking paint, thick concrete walls and history of doorframes all draped with a strange and ghostly adornment of paper strips. Enacting Templeton’s poetic line and reading through the case studies in each cell, the cold, the damp and the ruin of it all would, I imagine, combine to make readers aware through their own corporeality of the plight of the prisoners of conscience. The artwork’s capacity to communicate kinaesthetically means that it is able to ‘speak’ that which is verbally inexplicable: sensation, perception and, more specifically, the body incarcerated and in pain. ‘Speaking’ from, of and to the body, the artwork bridges the gap between the recipient and the prisoners of conscience, not simply by explaining their situation through narrative or poetic form, but by engendering a somewhat similar situation within the very act of reading-viewing. This aspect of the artwork’s material poetics fosters a knowledge and awareness of one’s own body that allows one to relate to the bodies depicted in the Amnesty International case studies. Templeton’s Cells of Release thus ‘speaks’ through its material qualities and the contact established between the artwork and its recipient in order that the recipient become aware of the plight of the prisoners of conscience and relate to them in a visceral way. This occurs in order to incite the recipient to write letters of petition on behalf of the sufferer, speaking of their situation and projecting their ‘voices’ into the world. Speaking to and through ‘you’: Upon Leaving Cells of Release Throughout Cells of Release, the poem is spoken from the firstperson ‘I’. For the majority of the poem, this speaking ‘I’ is scripted by the hand of the poet; thus, the indexical-meaning of this ‘I’, understood in a material sense, bears a necessary relation to the poet and embodies her scriptural ‘voice’. Let us now recall Benveniste’s

157



158

p o e tics a n d p lac e

argument in ‘Subjectivity in Language’ (1958) that every instance of ‘I’ in discourse implies an address to you: ‘‘‘I” posits another person, the one who, being, as he is, completely exterior to “me”, becomes my echo to whom I say “you” and who says “you” to me’ (Benveniste, ‘Subjectivity’ 225). Who is addressed as ‘you’ in Cells of Release, and to what effect? The following are the first 13 lines of the poem: where the body begins where in begins turns where you are my body speak it after me sign it with yours unused to it cold used I begin inside with you (entrance; 1–13)

The phrase ‘where the body begins’ (entrance, 1) both references and embodies the initial gesture of the poet’s handwritten line on site. This ‘where’ corresponds with the architectural entrance, ‘where in begins’ (entrance, 2), in the next line. In the following line, the opening of the poem and of the space ‘turns’ (entrance, 3) towards ‘where you are’ (entrance, 4). This ‘you’ is, in the next five lines, entreated: ‘my body / speak it / after me / sign it / with yours’ (entrance, 5–9). I understand this ‘you’ to refer to the reader-viewer who will eventually enact the poetic line on site and write on behalf of the prisoners in the case studies. I also understand the ‘you’ in the final two lines to open this reference up to a multiplicity of ‘you’: ‘I begin inside / with you’ (entrance, 12–13). The ‘you’ of these final two lines can be understood as encompassing the ‘you’ of the eventual reader-viewer, the ‘you’ of the prisoners of the case studies and the ‘you’ of the prisoners who once inhabited each cell. This is confirmed later in the following lines from the poem:



p e r f o r m i n g th e li n e

the you of my voice is both you, reader and you, prisoner the you of body for you I continue this scratching hand even as dark comes (Cell 4; 1–4)

In setting up this address to ‘you’, the language of Templeton’s poem allows the reader-viewer to share with the prisoners, both of old and of conscience, the position of ‘you’ as a site of reception. This shared discursive positioning is reinforced by the fact that the reader-viewer, prisoners of old and of conscience also ‘share’ the same physical place: that of the prison itself. Their bodies are not, of course, co-present. Still, their existence coincides at the point of the reader-viewers’ embodied engagement on site with the objects and things of the former inhabitants and the linguistic and photographic evidence for the prisoners in each Amnesty International case study. I thus understand the reader-viewer and the prisoners not only to share the linguistic position of the ‘you’ as a site of reception, but also their embodied positioning in the prison as a site of writing and encounter. To begin ‘inside / with you’ (entrance 12–13), as does the ‘I’ in Cells of Release, implies an imminent engagement with a multiplicity of those who will inhabit this ‘you’. This engagement entails not only addressing these ‘you’, but actually ‘speaking’ through ‘you’. I have already looked at how the line installed on site amongst the objects and things left in each cell creates a relation between the poet and the prisoners of old. With the line woven through these objects and things, in contact with them, the poem ‘speaks’ through the ‘you’ of the prisoners of old, amidst the traces of their movements and touch. In these instances, the line ‘speaks’ through the ‘you’ of these prisoners in the guise of the speaking ‘I’ and with the embodied or scriptural ‘voice’ of the poet. In harmony with this scripted ‘voice’ is that of the prison, its material qualities or ‘voice’. The ‘I’ also ‘speaks’ through the ‘you’ of the reader-viewer. The following lines are taken from the poem: I imagine each reader bending to read multiplying into a dance so the voice enters the body

159



160

p o e tics a n d p lac e

(cell 2; corridor, 8–10).

This sentiment is echoed elsewhere, in Templeton’s ‘Notes on Making Cells of Release’ where she writes: Like ritual, like exercise, like pilgrimage, like dance, though made simply to experience or for the body, the visitor’s walk reinscribes links on time, on body. The balk, shiver, sign or shrug, the choice to go partially, these too repeat, pattern time. The signature is action and act, points back to the body, (ac)countable in. The walk multiplies name and names. And leaving, turns inside out. (Templeton, ‘Notes’ n. pag.)

All of this suggests, to me, a reciprocity of embodied acts. The words are scripted, initially, through ‘the signature as action and act’ that points back to – indexes – the hand of the poet as she writes and the material quality of her ‘voice’ in the handwritten line. This line is installed through the twists and turns that point back to – index – the body of the poet as she moves and, thus, the traces of her performative movements and gestures enacted in the prison. The recipient then physically performs an enactment of the line through her own embodied spatial practice of reading and moving through the prison and its material aspects: ‘so the voice enters the body’ (cell 2; corridor, 10) of the recipient through her own corporeal enactment of the line, in situ. The line presents a choreography. The dancer enacts the dance. So the speaking and scripting ‘I’ of the poem enters – and becomes – the ‘you’ of the reader who is solicited to ‘speak’ on behalf of a prisoners of conscience. The reader-viewer, in turn, becomes the ‘I’ of the letter-writer, ‘speaking’ on behalf of, and in the ‘voice’ of, the prisoners of conscience, doing so through the letter-writer’s subjective ‘I’ and own unique quality of scripted ‘voice’. Finally, the ‘I’ of Cells of Release speaks through the ‘you’ of the prisoners of conscience. The first instance of this occurs in Cell 38. At this point in the book one finds two blank pages. This blankness in the book documents the cell on site that was woven with the line, but not with a scriptural ‘voice’: there was no trace of any writing in this room. Importantly, the table at the end of the book relating each cell to a specific Amnesty International case reveals that Cell 38 was dedicated to the victim of mutilation in Uganda. A prescient line earlier in the poem suggests the implications that such an act of mutilation entails:



p e r f o r m i n g th e li n e

you disappeared like magic or murder you disappeared like mutilation unrecognizable somewhere I face away your face away facing me you seem a past (Cell 10, 2229–38)

As these lines suggest, the act of mutilation results in a kind of disappearance: ‘you disappeared like mutilation’ (Cell 10, 32). Mutilated, one becomes ‘unrecognizable’ (Cell 10, 33), loses one’s face: the face that – like one’s fingerprint or one’s voice – is so closely tied to one’s unique corporeal identity. Bearing this in mind, I understand this blankness or absence of writing in Cell 38 as an instance where the ‘I’ of the poem becomes ‘you’ of the prisoner, with the ‘voice’ of the poet projected into this space. Let us recall now my discussion in the previous section where I looked at how the Amnesty International letter-writer speaks in the ‘voice’ of the prisoners of conscience, projecting the ‘voice’ of the body in pain into the world. This space of the projected ‘voice’, I argued, is located grammatically in the third person – the position through which the Amnesty International publications articulate the sufferer’s situation and through which the letter-writer, positioned as ‘I’, speaks of the sufferer, extending ‘her’ (‘him’ or ‘them’) into the world. There is not, however, the same grammatical distance between ‘I’ and ‘you’ as between ‘I’ and ‘he’, ‘she’ or ‘them’. When ‘I’ project myself into the space of ‘your’ self-extension, this in fact becomes the space of my own since the ‘I’ and the ‘you’ exist interchangeably in the instance of discourse. It follows that if ‘I’ become ‘your’ projection of ‘voice’ – ‘you’, the victim of mutilation who has lost your corporeal identity and projective capacity of ‘voice’ – then ‘I’, too, lose mine. In other words, ‘I’ become ‘you’ who have disappeared, and so disappear myself. This occurs in Cell 38. The absence of any scripted words in this section is indicative of this dematerialisation: the speaking-scripting

161



162

p o e tics a n d p lac e

‘I’ has fully become the faceless, identity-less, ‘voiceless’ ‘you’ so that all traces of the ‘I’ disappear. This transformation is implied in the lines directly preceding Cell 38, which read: the straightest way in relate join relate tell and I’ve bared what I thought I wouldn’t so let the room speak

(Cell 36; Corridor, 15–21).

I interpret this to mean that the ‘I’ has chosen ‘the straightest way in’ (15) to ‘you’. To ‘relate / join / relate / tell’ (16–19) suggests that the ‘I’s relation to the ‘you’ in Cell 38 is, in fact, a union. That ‘I’ve bared what I thought I wouldn’t’ (20) suggests that the ‘I’ has left herself fully vulnerable and exposed, without protection. The ‘I’ becomes swallowed up by the violent scene in Cell 38 and the ‘you’ as its site of reception. The speaking ‘I’ becomes the ‘you’ of the Ugandan woman and, with the poet’s ‘voice’ projected into this space, falls silent. However, as the last line here indicates, the room is still left to ‘speak’: the ‘voice’ of the prison thus becomes a means for the artwork to express the body in pain, if not verbally and through a speaking ‘voice’, then through the other material qualities of its message. Significantly, this caesura in the scripted line at Cell 38 appears, architecturally and temporally, at the halfway point of Templeton’s trajectory and inhabitation. The ‘I’ becoming ‘you’ can thus be understood to mark a turning point in the piece where the poet’s movements shift from being a movement into the prison and the project (up through the cells on the left-hand side) to a movement out of the prison and Cells of Release (down through the cells on the right-hand side). I understand the ‘I’s inhabitation of the ‘you’ in Cell 38 to mark the beginning of the poet writing herself out of the prison and the poem. In keeping with this logic, all of the other instances where the ‘I’ becomes the ‘you’ of a prisoner of conscience in the poem happen after Cell 38: in Cell 37, Cell 35 and Cell 33. In these instances,



p e r f o r m i n g th e li n e

there is not the loss of the scriptural ‘voice’ that accompanied the ‘I’ becoming ‘you’ as a victim of mutilation in Cell 38. Because the poet retains her scripting ‘voice’, the poem is able to ‘speak’ through the ‘I’ of the prisoners of conscience. One thus hears, in the first person, of rape as a weapon of war in Bosnia (Cell 37); three cases of detention, cruel punishment and civilians deliberately killed in Sudan (Cell 35); and three bodies found in Chiapas, Mexico (Cell 33). In the midst of these different accounts, we hear how ‘I was banned’ (12) in Cell 37, ‘I was lashed’ (30) in Cell 35, ‘I reacted’ (7) in the Corridor following this and ‘I myself was lined up’ (9) in Cell 33. The last instance where ‘I’ becomes ‘you’ ends the poem. In the final cell, Cell 1, we are told in the documentation that these lines ‘spoken’ through the first-person ‘I’ were written on site by T. Kumar, a former prisoner of conscience in Sri Lanka. Here the ‘you’ of a prisoner of conscience ‘speaks’ through his own embodied and unique corporeality of ‘voice’ and, in the guise of ‘I’, extends himself into the world, in turn allowing the poet to exit the prison and the poem: so that the body continues so that the voice continues (exit)

163



5



The Material Reach of the Word: Jenny Holzer’s Lustmord and the Responsibility of Art

During the wars in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina (1991–95), Bosnian Serb and Serb militia, military personnel and other persons of authority brutally committed the rape, often leading to murder, of thousands of Bosnian Muslim women as an act of physical and psychological warfare. The attacks happened in schools, homes and public arenas – predominantly in camps set up expressly for the purpose. Ivana Nizich’s War Crimes in Bosnia-Herzegovina, published in August 1992 by Human Rights Watch, refers to the sexual offences in Bosnia as ‘ethnic cleansing’ and a form of genocide. In Bosnia-Herzegovina: Rape and Sexual Abuse by Armed Forces, disseminated by Amnesty International in January 1993, Tadeusz Mazowiecki reports that the rape of Muslim women was systematic, deliberate and used as a weapon of war. In the article ‘Serbs Raped 20,000, EC Team Says: Assaults in Bosnia Part of “Cleansing”’, published on 9 January 1993 in the Washington Post, William Drozdiak indicates the scale of the sexual violence used to terrorise and traumatise Muslim women. Related to these events, on 19 November 1993, Jenny Holzer published Lustmord as a series of artist’s pages in the German weekly Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin. Holzer’s artwork comprises 28 pages in total, each printed with a full-size image (32×22cm). The images themselves consist of lines of the Lustmord text hand-scripted onto skin with red, black or blue ink; two of the images are of skin without text. Fig.5.1 (below) is one example of a full-page spread of Lustmord as it appeared in Süddeutsche Zeitung.1 This artwork is disturbing, not least because of the text’s depiction of a woman’s brutal rape and murder (lustmord or ‘rapeslaying’) as told from three different first-person perspectives, each located within the scene of violence. In an interview with Beatrix Ruf, Holzer describes how she based this writing on first-person 164

th e m at e r ial r e ach o f th e w o r d

accounts and reports written by the United Nations, Amnesty International and news services about the crisis in Bosnia, also drawing on her personal experience and first-hand testimonials of violence against women. I wrote [Lustmord] from reading first-person accounts and also reports written by the United Nations, Amnesty International and news services. And I should also say, I wrote it about women at large; it wasn’t only about the situation in Bosnia. This sort of stuff goes on everywhere all of the time and I was able to draw on things that I know and have experienced and that other people have told me. It’s not an alien subject. (Holzer cited in Ruf 111)

The horrors of the text are further compounded by the reader’s reception of the words on images of a body, or bodies, fragmented and without corporeal coordinates; skin ‘pages’ inscribed or awaiting inscription. Circulated in the context of post-war Germany, with some of the lines ‘spoken’ in the German tongue, the pages recall Dr Joseph Mengele’s horrific experiments using human skin during the Holocaust, while the script echoes tattoos used to mark prisoners in the camps. This chain of reference does not stop here. Lustmord’s



Fig.5.1

Jenny Holzer, Lustmord.

165



166

p o e tics a n d p lac e

patchwork of flesh and quotes also connote branding, hate speech, a jail sentence, Kafka’s penal colony – all conjured in ballpoint pen like an afterthought or a flippant, sticky note reminder. Meanwhile, the title of the artwork directs us to a disconcerting art historical referent: the artistic trope of the Lustmord that was popular in the early years of the Weimar Republic in Germany (1918–23). Writing in ‘Practice as Thinking: Toward Feminist Aesthetics’ (2003), art historian and theorist Marsha Meskimmon discusses Holzer’s Lustmord in specific relation to this art historical referent of the German Lustmord. Meskimmon describes the iconography of the German Lustmord as typically displaying the mutilated, disembowelled and/or dismembered body of a raped female corpse. The painted depiction of these figures in dirty beds and rundown urban spaces lends to their being read as ‘prostitutes’. This objectification of woman through her status as commodity is echoed by her status as object of the gaze in these artworks. Meskimmon notes how lurid colours, excessive attention to the details of the mutilation and the crudeness of the mark-making both emphasise the violence of the scene and compel the viewer to explore the voyeuristic display. Importantly, Meskimmon contextualises this representation of violence in relation to the actual violence perpetuated against women in the years of the early Weimar Republic, which rose sharply during this period. In doing so, she asks us to consider the artistic trope’s symbolic objectification and destruction of ‘woman’ in relation to the real-world situation of the abusive treatment of women in times of political upheaval. Holzer’s artwork, invoking this historical trope, asks us to do the same; however, as Meskimmon argues, ‘the issues raised by [Holzer’s] Lustmord, go far beyond the histories of art or the particular circumstances of the Weimar Republic and address the manifold abuse of women in modern warfare’ (Meskimmon, ‘Practice’ 227). Meskimmon goes on to cite specific examples where rape and murder have been used as a strategy of war and ‘ethnic cleansing’. These include the ‘Joy Divisions’ of Nazi concentration camps, the Korean women kidnapped by the Japanese army and forced to serve as ‘Comfort Women’ in military ‘brothels’ in China, and the use of rape as a military tactic in Rwanda, all of which ‘suffice to remind us of the unspeakable traumas Holzer’s Lustmord voiced’ (Meskimmon,

th e m at e r ial r e ach o f th e w o r d

‘Practice’ 228). Ultimately, Meskimmon’s reading of Holzer’s Lustmord suggests that, through its particular composite of references, the artwork gives ‘voice’ to ‘unspeakable’ historical – and contemporary – situations of violence against women in modern warfare. Stemming from Meskimmon’s reading I ask: how does Holzer’s Lustmord give ‘voice’ to that which is ‘unspeakable’, and what effect does this have on a recipient or, more specifically, how do we respond? In answering these questions, the artwork’s aesthetic strategies – which I see as a combination of spatial, visual and material poetic strategies – are at stake. To clarify, I consider Lustmord’s spatial strategies in terms of Holzer’s placement of the artwork in Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin, thereby appropriating the newspaper weekly’s spatial practice of public circulation. I consider Lustmord’s visual strategies in terms of the word-and-image composites: Holzer’s use of skin ‘pages’ on which are scripted lines depicting the scene of violence. And I consider the artwork’s poetic strategies both in terms of its verbal poetics, in particular Holzer’s employment of the grammatical firstperson position throughout Lustmord, as well as its material poetics, including the artist’s use of ink mixed with a small amount of blood from women volunteers in Germany and the former Yugoslavia to print one line of text on the front cover of Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin. In what follows, I address each of these strategies, drawing out the artwork’s political imperative and ethical potential. Who (or What) Appears in the Public Sphere: Circulating Lustmord Imagine yourself to be a recipient of Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin on 19 November 1993. Opening the magazine, you encounter Holzer’s Lustmord over breakfast. The effect would, undoubtedly, be shocking, and this could, itself, be effective: as Susan Sontag argues in Regarding the Pain of Others, ‘[f ]or photographs to accuse, and possibly alter conduct, they must shock’ (Sontag 72). However, as Sontag herself notes, we are confronted with shocking images all of the time, and for the most part to very little effect. ‘As one can become habituated to horror in real life,’ she writes, ‘one can become habituated to the horror of certain images’ (Sontag 73). As I see it, the importance of Lustmord – by which I mean its political imperative and ethical

167



168

p o e tics a n d p lac e

potential – does not rest in its shock value; rather, it lies in a different effect that Lustmord’s combination of spatial, visual and (material) poetic strategies has on a recipient. In order to draw this out, thereby suggesting Lustmord’s continuing relevance for contemporary art in times of war, I turn to Hiroshima After Iraq: Three Studies in Art and War (2010) by art critic and theorist Rosalyn Deutsche. In what is unquestionably an important contribution to the ethicopolitical discourse of the Iraq War era, Deutsche’s Hiroshima After Iraq looks at three politically engaged works of art in order to consider their specific critiques of war and more broadly, the ethical task of addressing historical disaster. In doing so, Deutsche considers the potential for visual art practices to intervene into the political space of the public sphere, thereby soliciting an ethical response. Deutsche bases this consideration on a definition of the public sphere predicated on the philosophy of Hannah Arendt. As I have discussed in previous chapters, Arendt’s philosophy suggests how the public sphere can be understood in terms of the phenomenological space of appearance. For Deutsche, Arendt’s stress on appearance intrinsically connects the public sphere to the field of vision. This becomes important for both Deutsche’s and my own argument, as it suggests how visual art, with its capacity to make people and things appear, can determine, at least in part, ‘who’ or ‘what’ appears in the public sphere. All of this implicates visual art practice within the political. In terms of Lustmord, we can appreciate how Holzer’s dissemination of the artwork through the newspaper’s weekly distribution circulates the subject of violence against women – or, more precisely, women subjected to violence – within the public sphere. This is, then, a political move: one through which, quoting Arendt, these female victims of violence are made to appear in the public sphere through ‘the unique shape of the body and sound of the voice’ (Arendt, Human 179). Having said this, it is the particular uniqueness of the bodies and ‘voices’ in Lustmord – more precisely, the unique aesthetic strategies through which these bodies are seen and these ‘voices’ are heard – that suggests the ethical potential behind Holzer’s project. Why is this so? To answer this, I return to Deutsche’s discussion. Deutsche suggests that latent in the notion of the public sphere as the space of appearance ‘is the ethico-political question not of how we

th e m at e r ial r e ach o f th e w o r d

appear but of how we respond to the appearance of others’ (Deutsche 64). Phrased differently, latent in Arendt’s political philosophy, which predicates ontological thinking on our relational existence, lies the ethical question not of how we, ourselves, appear to others, but of how we respond to another’s appearance. Deutsche’s continuing argument then identifies the role that aesthetic practices, and particularly critical aesthetic practices, play in this ethicopolitical question. For if to be public is, as Deutsche writes, to be exposed to alterity, then the task for artists wanting to deepen and extend democracy is twofold: ‘creating works that help those who have been rendered invisible to “make their appearance” and developing viewers’ capacity for public life by asking them to respond to, rather than react against, that appearance’ (Deutsche 64). Whereupon she notes that these tasks are beset with an inherent contradiction stemming from the critique of vision in contemporary art practices, and particularly feminist critiques of representation that have analysed vision ‘as precisely the sense that, instead of welcoming others, tends to meet them in relations of conquest, to make them disappear as other’ (Deutsche 64). How, Deutsche asks, can visual art practice contribute to the space of appearance without participating in the kind of hegemonic vision that is ‘oriented toward triumphalism rather than response’ (Deutsche 64)? All of this suggests, to me, that somewhere between the political question of ‘who appears’ and the ethical question of ‘how do we respond to the appearance of others’ sits the aesthetic question of ‘how does one (or some thing) appear’ which is at the heart of visual art practice – and which is the crux of a critical art practice. This returns us to Holzer’s Lustmord, where the question now becomes: what are some of the critical aesthetic strategies through which the women of Holzer’s Lustmord are made to appear and, ultimately, how do we then respond to that appearance? How One (or Some Thing) Appears in the Public Sphere: The Critical Image and Lustmord We can locate two of the critical aesthetic strategies through which the women of Holzer’s Lustmord are made to appear in the aforementioned skin ‘pages’ coupled with Holzer’s use of text to

169



170

p o e tics a n d p lac e

depict violence against a female victim. In the essay by Meskimmon referenced above, she argues that these strategies effectively thwart conventions of the gaze by locating the brutality that Lustmord references ‘within a time and space’ and calling ‘to the embodiment of the viewers through corporealised texts and objects’ (Meskimmon, ‘Practice’ 230). Meskimmon goes on to locate these strategies, particular to Holzer’s Lustmord, within a practice-based, processoriented model of feminist art practice. Importantly, this alignment of Holzer’s aesthetic strategies with a feminist critical art practice relates to Deutsche’s argument and, specifically, her discussion of Krzysztof Wodiczko’s Hiroshima Projection (1999) in the final essay of Hiroshima After Iraq, which I shall here look at briefly. In this artwork Wodiczko projected moving images of hands onto architectural and urban structures in Hiroshima. These projections, a video work in their own right, are the gestural accompaniment to the spoken testimonials of second- and third-generation survivors of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Wodiczko’s Hiroshima Projection therefore functioned to animate the city’s built environment with the gestural and aural ‘voice’ of victims of atrocity. Suggesting that Wodiczko’s artwork ‘belongs within a feminist practice of contemporary art that produces what have been called critical images’, Deutsche goes on to define the critical image as one that undoes the viewing subject’s narcissistic fantasies ‘that blind us to otherness, either rejecting it or assimilating it to the knowing ego or the Same’ (Deutsche 67).2 We can see how this relates to Meskimmon’s description of Lustmord’s feminist aesthetic strategies that, Meskimmon argues, upset a visual paradigm privileging the ‘one’ through an effacement of the ‘other’; a paradigm that, as previously suggested, both upholds and reinforces real-world violence perpetuated against women. Bearing in mind this relation, I propose to consider Lustmord’s feminist aesthetic strategies in terms of what Deutsche calls the ‘critical image’. This will allow me, ultimately, to consider how Holzer’s artwork solicits what Deutsche deems the ethical and responsive public visuality so crucial in times of war – and that the critical image is capable of soliciting. But first, what is the particular kind of visuality that Deutsche sees as being solicited by the critical image? Deutsche arrives at her

th e m at e r ial r e ach o f th e w o r d

appreciation of an ethical and responsive visuality through the writing of another philosopher, Emmanuel Levinas; specifically, Levinas’ discussion of the ‘face’ upon which he grounds his ethical philosophy. Levinas’ thinking is particularly significant grounds for Deutsche to consider what she has deemed the ‘ethico-political question not of how we appear, but of how we respond to another’s appearance’ because as Levinas’ concern is not with the appearance of the self or ‘I’ but, rather, the way in which one’s exposure to the appearance of another actually calls this self into question and, in doing so, solicits a response. Levinas calls the other who appears the ‘face’, with an understanding that this is not just another person in the world; rather, ‘it is a manifestation of the Other in the sense of that which cannot be made fully visible or knowable’ (Deutsche 65). Crucially, the ‘face’ is therefore not what we see of another: it is not the representation of a face. In fact, the ‘face’ is precisely what evades vision and, with it, knowability. The paradoxical appearance of the ‘face’ thus signals our exposure to that which we cannot see or know of another – what we cannot, therefore, assimilate to what Deutsche calls a ‘triumphalist vision’. Deutsche’s continuing argument suggests that this appearance of the enigmatic other, or ‘face’, is implicated in the political insofar as, when it does appear, the ‘face’ is accompanied by what Levinas calls the ‘third party’: an awareness that the appearance of the other implies a whole possibility of others amongst whom I, myself, appear. This, argues Deutsche, implicates the dyadic relation between oneself and the unknowable other (the Levinasian ‘face’) within the public space of appearance. And this political implication, in turn, carries with it the ethical potential of the Levinasian ‘face’: ‘The other’s approach, or appearance, bespeaks the social world, but tells me that I cannot meet that world from a position of full understanding, which would make it “mine”. The world does not belong to me’ (Deutsche 65). In other words, I cannot meet this other, as ‘face’, from a position of full comprehension or mastery. Rather, exposing the limits of representability, the ‘face’ thwarts knowability and, with it, triumphalism. In this absence of certainty it solicits a response, thereby signalling my ability to respond: my encounter with the ‘face’ thus grounds an ethics of ‘response-ability’ to and for another. In this way, argues Deutsche, Levinas ‘links the question of ethical response

171



172

p o e tics a n d p lac e

to the question of vision or, more particularly to a critique of vision’ and it is on this account that she considers ‘the appearance of the other, which brings public space into existence, [as] not a perceptual event but rather one that calls for a different kind of vision’ (Deutsche 66). Crucially, this call for a different, inadequate kind of vision is also solicited by what Deutsche has called the feminist critical image, and it is on this point that one is able to link the aesthetic strategies that produce such images – such as Holzer’s – to the appearance of the Levinasian ‘face’-of-the-other and, with it, the ethical and responsive mode of viewing that these images, this ‘face’, solicits. Now, if one detects a certain resonance between Deutsche’s description, by way of Levinas, of an ethics predicated the fundamental unknowability of the other-as-‘face’ and the ethics that Judith Butler, by way of Laplanche, predicates on the fundamental opacity of the ‘I’ and an acceptance of such a limit in another, as discussed in Chapter 3, this is not surprising. Levinas is also a key figure in Butler’s thought, appearing in Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence (2004), written one year before Giving an Account of Oneself, and also in the following book, Frames of War (2010). Butler refers to the trajectory of these three books in this most recent one. She describes, firstly, how Precarious Life, dealing with war and representation, considers what it means to be ethically responsive and to attend to another’s suffering, whereupon she draws primarily from Levinas. Giving an Account of Oneself asks about the subjective resources for this kind of responsiveness, and so Butler turns to Laplanche to unpack the psychology behind the dyadic relation of encounter. Finally, Frames of War asks us to consider the ways in which ‘suffering is presented to us, and how that presentation affects our responsiveness’ (Butler, Frames 63). Engaging in this latest book with, amongst others, Sontag’s important essay Regarding the Pain of Others, Butler looks at the critical role for visual culture during times of war. In doing so, she concentrates primarily on the critique of mass media representations of violence, more than on aesthetic practices that, themselves, generate critical representations. Still, Butler is, like Deutsche, a key thinker through which to consider the ethicopolitical implications of aesthetic practice in times of war.3 Indeed, Deutsche herself draws from Butler’s Precarious Life in the course of her discussion of the critical image.

th e m at e r ial r e ach o f th e w o r d

Noting Butler’s claim in this book that one of the first casualties of war is the Levinasian ‘face’, she writes: The task of cultural criticism, according to Butler – what it can offer in the present situation of war – is to return us to the face, to, that is, the human, a return that demands a critique of representation, for it is in the field of representation that humanisation and dehumanisation occur (Deutsche 67).

While here, as in Frames of War, Butler’s primary concern is with a cultural critique of mass media representation, and in this case the American media’s representation of literal Arab faces, Deutsche extends this critical imperative to visual art. Deutsche argues that aesthetic strategies such as those of the critical image – interrupting self-absorption and promoting answerability to the other – themselves have the ability to return us to the ‘face’. This is true insofar as aesthetic practices have the potential to depict the fundamental vulnerability of another as the ‘face’. Importantly, in order to do so, such practices must not only critique but, in doing so, produce new modes of representation and, with it, visuality. And this, ultimately, suggests why such aesthetic practices are so crucial in times of war. Let us now consider these feminist art practices that employ critical aesthetic strategies in relation to the ethics of aesthetic relation that I looked at when engaging with Cha’s artwork. Based on Butler’s ethics of opacity, but extended for the purposes of aesthetics and criticism, I argued for an ethics of aesthetic relation that acknowledges and respects the limits of understanding whilst attempting to communicate precisely through this. As I see it, the critical image does precisely this. However, introducing Deutsche’s argument imbues this previous discussion with an underlying criticality and political imperative. For it suggests that, more than simply acknowledging and respecting the limits of understanding, these feminist art practices actually cultivate this limit as critique, employing critical aesthetic strategies that thwart full knowability. In this sense, the ethical acceptance of opacity becomes the politically active construction of it: one through which these artworks still endeavour to communicate and, in doing so, demand a different engagement from their recipient. Returning again to Lustmord, it is possible to understand the artwork’s aesthetic strategies in light of Deutsche’s discussion

173



174

p o e tics a n d p lac e

feminist critical strategies and the Levinasian ‘face’. More specifically, it is possible to appreciate how Holzer’s feminist aesthetic strategies return us to the ‘face’: that of the women in Bosnia, as well as female victims of violent crimes more generally. In saying this, I am referring to the ‘face’ in the sense that Deutsche and Butler, via Levinas, intend: not a literal depiction of these women’s faces, but a representation of their fundamental humanity with all of its attendant vulnerability. In this way, the work fulfils both a political imperative and ethical potential: the political imperative to give ‘voice’ to these women – to represent them and their situation publically; the ethical potential to do so in a way that thwarts our desire for knowability and, with this, mastery – to solicit, instead, an alternative response to these women and their situation. So, through Holzer’s skin ‘pages’ and text these women are made to appear in the public sphere, but in such a way that they are not fully represented; not fully knowable. Denying the reader-viewer a (privileged) optic view of the entire body – the body as an object before our gaze – and, instead, fragmenting the body into patches of surface and offering the depictions of violence through the verbal image rather than the iconic image, the artwork thwarts our inclination for imaginative projection and mastery over the other and, instead, solicits a different kind of visuality as a means of encountering the ‘face’ of these women. I would like now to suggest that, through the skin ‘pages’, Holzer’s artwork actually solicits a haptic visuality. I used this term in Chapter 3 to describe the screen surface of Cha’s Passages Paysages, and now I use it to describe the skin surfaces of Holzer’s pages. In doing so, I draw attention to Laura Marks’ claim in ‘Video Haptics and Erotics’ that haptic visuality is a ‘feminist visual strategy’: one that supplants a phallocentric model of optic visuality that, in making possible the greater distance between viewer and object, encourages the beholder to project her/himself into or onto the object (Marks 336–7). Marks, like Meskimmon and Deutsche, is critical of the spatiality of optic visuality with its capacity to position objects at a distance, whilst encouraging imaginative projection into or onto the object. In contrast, argues Marks, haptic visuality ‘suggests a way of inhabiting the image without identifying with a position of mastery’, instead coming at it from a position of intimacy (336–7). Haptic

th e m at e r ial r e ach o f th e w o r d

visuality thus solicits a different kind of relation to the image than one of objectivity and mastery. In the case of Lustmord – addressing us from the limits of visibility, appealing more to haptic visuality than our optical faculties – the images touch us. In turn, we are moved: a movement toward the other, whom we encounter not as an image of the self-same but as the ‘face’ of another, and whose overwhelming vulnerability we begin to recognise as, slowly, we turn each page. So we can appreciate how the aesthetics of Holzer’s skin ‘pages’ brings us close – into contact – emotionally with another, even amidst the artwork’s horrific account of a woman’s rape and murder and our encounter with the abject body therein. Interestingly, this contact established through the hapticity in Marks’ argument – and, as I am suggesting, the haptic visuality of the skin ‘pages’ in Holzer’s artwork – recalls, for me, the contact established through a projection of ‘voice’ as I have discussed in previous chapters. Suggestively in terms of this resonance of ‘voice’ and for my continuing engagement with the Lustmord text, Levinas writes: ‘the face speaks’ (Deutsche 67; Levinas 87). The Ethics of Critical Response: Reading Lustmord from the Second Person I have considered Lustmord in terms of the critical image. I shall now consider another critical aesthetic strategy in Lustmord: one that inheres in the text itself. Specifically, I consider Holzer’s particular deployment of the first-person pronominal position throughout the artwork. My interest, in doing so, is again to consider the specific effect that Holzer’s critical strategies have on a recipient, as well as to unpack their ethicopolitical implications. As described, the Lustmord text is comprised of a series of ‘spoken’ statements, each of which deploys the first-person pronominal position. This deployment of the first-person grammatical position is the case whether the word ‘I’ figures explicitly in the text or is implied by the utterance.4 We have looked in previous chapters at how the ‘I’ can be considered in terms of an indexical symbol in the grammatical sense whose indexical-meaning is specific to its spatiotemporal location. In terms of Lustmord, this means that first-person ‘I’ shifts

175



176

p o e tics a n d p lac e

reference within each instance of discourse, whereby it corresponds differently to either the Perpetrator, Victim or Observer of the text’s depiction of a violent rape and murder. In Holzer’s collection Writing/ Schriften (1996), the full Lustmord text is presented in both German and English, with the text organised into the respective categories of Perpetrator, Victim and Observer.5 This categorisation allows one specifically to attribute the ‘speaking’ ‘I’ in Lustmord to one of the three perspectives in the text. However, the text as it appears in Süddeutsche Zeitung offers no such categorisation. In order to determine ‘who’ is ‘speaking’ throughout the text – that is, to determine the indexicalmeaning of the ‘I’ – a reader must make recourse to the textual conditions of each line and/in relation to other lines; bear in mind Holzer’s three attributions of Perpetrator, Victim and Observer; and remain aware of the relationship, generally, between a perpetrator, victim and observer in the dynamic of an abusive situation. Here are three examples: MEINE BRÜSTE SIND SO ANGESCHWOLLEN DASS ICH HINEINBEISSE (MY BREASTS ARE SO SWOLLEN THAT I BITE THEM) p. 22 I WANT TO FUCK HER WHERE SHE HAS TOO MUCH HAIR p. 23 SHE STARTED RUNNING WHEN EVERYTHING BEGAN POURING FROM HER BECAUSE SHE DID NOT WANT TO BE SEEN p. 16

I interpret the first statement here as being ‘spoken’ by the Victim, the second as the Perpetrator and the third as the Observer. Combined, the statements offer a first-person account of an act of brutality, defocalised through the multiple perspectives/shifting spatiality of the ‘I’. What is the effect of this deployment of a multiple and fluctuating ‘I’ through which to depict the violence of Lustmord? To begin to answer this, I, like Deutsche above, turn to Butler’s Precarious Life. Here Butler argues that rhetorical devices of spoken language revolving around the first-person subject position ‘I’ and the narrative construct of ‘victim’ have been used as a powerful weapon

th e m at e r ial r e ach o f th e w o r d

in the global war on terror waged by the United States along with Britain and other US ‘allies’. Such rhetorical strategies are, Butler contends, intrinsic to the framework that arises for understanding violence, concomitant with the experience of it. Since the attacks on the World Trade Center, Butler writes, the United States has reserved this subject position and narrative construction for itself in an effort to rectify the fundamental de-centring that resulted from the attacks: This decentering is experienced as part of the wound that we have suffered, so we cannot inhabit that position. This decentering is precisely what we seek to rectify through a recentering. A narrative form emerges to compensate for the enormous narcissistic wound opened up by the public display of our physical vulnerability (Butler, Precarious 7).

Butler sees the shoring up of the centric ‘I’ as victim as closing off the possibility of hearing other points of view, or of hearing the narrative told from other positions and other beginnings. In other words, it precludes the ability to become involved in what Butler terms a ‘different order of responsibility’ (Butler, Precarious 8). ‘The ability to narrate ourselves not from the first-person alone, but from, say, the position of the third, or to receive an account delivered in the second, can actually work to expand our understanding of the forms that global power has taken,’ Butler writes (Butler, Precarious 8). Lamentably, she continues, our ‘fear of understanding a point of view belies a deeper fear that we shall be taken up by it, find it is contagious, become infected in a morally perilous way by thinking of the presumed enemy’ (Butler, Precarious 8). The result is the continual shoring up of the centred speaking ‘I’ as a position from which the United States speaks, as victim.6 By introducing Butler’s cultural critique here in relation to my discussion of Lustmord, I am in no way attempting to make a direct comparison between the narratives of victims of the World Trade Center attack on 11 September 2001 and those of the women victims of the Bosnian atrocities in the early 1990s. Nor is my intention to argue against the need for victims of violence to offer an account of their experience from the first-person position. Rather, I introduce Butler’s argument in relationship to Lustmord in order to situate Holzer’s artwork – or, more specifically, our reception of the text – within what Butler calls a ‘different order of responsibility’: a situatedness that is compelled by what I see as a critical spatial

177



178

p o e tics a n d p lac e

deployment of this first-person position in her artwork. For it is clear that, given the ‘I’s fluctuating reference between the three different positions of Victim, Perpetrator and Observer in Lustmord, the text’s account of rape and violence is, while narrated from an ‘I’, not narrated from a centric first-person position. Rather, the narrative is structured from three different mobile, fluctuating perspectives with the result that we, receiving it, are given only partial accounts that we must, in turn, piece together. The question becomes, what effect does the spatiality of the ‘I’ in Lustmord have on the recipient and, to echo Butler, how might we become involved – as readers, if not narrators – in a ‘different order of responsibility’? Before looking at the critical potential inherent in the spatiality of Lustmord’s ‘I’ as it is received, I would just like to say a word about Holzer’s employment of the ‘I’ in this text, and about Lustmord generally. Throughout my engagement with this piece, I have actually struggled with Holzer’s use of the ‘I’. This is not to say that either she or I would presume a naïve equation between Holzer, the artist, and the ‘I’ of the text. Nor is it to undervalue the criticality of the fluctuating ‘I’. However, even in its nomadism, this ‘I’ still presumes – if only momentarily – to speak as Victim, Perpetrator and Observer. (This is even more the case given Holzer’s use of the blood-ink to ‘speak’ one of the Victim’s line of text, as I look at in more in detail below.) I discussed in the previous chapter the ethical and political implications of speaking on behalf of another, with specific reference to Fiona Templeton’s Cells of Release and its active solicitation of Amnesty International letter-writers to speak on behalf of prisoners of conscience globally. This, to me, seems a very different thing from Holzer’s text which, taking up the first-person position, tells the experience of another – more precisely, presents itself speaking as another. It is this with which I take issue. However, as I have argued – and as I continue to appreciate – Lustmord does employ feminist critical aesthetic strategies. (One question, however: if I did not know that this artwork was by the artist ‘Jenny Holzer’ would I be so quick to recognise its criticality and the feminist agenda that seems so camouflaged by the artwork’s sensationalism?) In any case, as I see it, Lustmord’s critical strategies become particularly mobilised through the effect that they have on a recipient, which is why I shall focus

th e m at e r ial r e ach o f th e w o r d

on this act of reception in order to draw out the ethical and political implications of the artwork as a critical practice. I would like to suggest, firstly, that Holzer’s deployment of a multiple and fluctuating ‘I’ complicates a reader’s attempt to identify with the ‘I’ and, in doing so, to introduce it into a logic of the selfsame. For example, presuming that most readers would engage with the text by reading the pages in sequence, here they would encounter the following three consecutive lines: I TAKE HER FACE WITH ITS FINE HAIRS. I POSITION HER MOUTH p. 14 MY NOSE BROKE IN THE GRASS MY EYES ARE SORE FROM MOVING AGAINST YOUR PALM p. 15 SHE STARTED RUNNING WHEN EVERYTHING BEGAN POURING FROM HER BECAUSE SHE DID NOT WANT TO BE SEEN. p. 16

Reading the first line, what is my relationship to the ‘I’ of the Perpetrator? Am I inclined to identify with it? Might I enjoy my imaginary identification with this position and relish the sense of control over ‘her’ that it allows? Or, given the context of Lustmord, might I instead reject outright any identification with this ‘I’? – any implication of my own subjectivity in that of this (or any) Perpetrator? Yet, whether secure in my dominance over ‘her’ or in my moral righteousness in rejecting the ‘I’ – or perhaps just complacent in a partial identification with this position – any sense of security or complacency is removed with the next line as the ‘I’ shifts its indexical-meaning to the Victim. Is this position – as Woman, as Victim – one with which I identify, even if only partially? Or is it one that I reject outright? Even as I contemplate each possibility and all of its attendant emotion, the next line’s ‘I’ shifts reference again and, suddenly, ‘I’ am engaging with ‘her’, only this time from the position of Observer. There is an apparent safety in this position as ‘I’ am neither Perpetrator nor Victim and, so, positioned outside of the dyadic violence with which I am confronted. Nevertheless, the guilt and powerlessness that I might feel even in this more or less ‘safe’ position is difficult, to say the least . And so the story

179



180

p o e tics a n d p lac e

goes: with any of my attempts to maintain a centric position – be it Victim, Perpetrator or Observer – continually undermined; with the wild fluctuations of emotion and accountability that this spatiality warrants; with my loss of any sense of control or mastery over the text, the violence, or the Other. Similar to the effect of the critical image discussed above, this effectively undermines any attempt to approach the text from a position of control or mastery, as might be encouraged through my imaginary identification with a stable ‘I’ position. The effect is, ultimately, unsettling. Arguably, my response might therefore be to reject the text outright, labelling it histrionic, pornographic or obscene. Indeed, this was the response of many of the readers of Lustmord when it was published.7 But is there another way to respond? Might I, amidst this unsettling, become involved in what Butler has called a different order of responsibility? Before addressing this question directly, I would first like turn to Levinas’ writing in Totality and Infinity (1961). If reading Levinas through Deutsche allowed us to appreciate the ‘face’ in terms of that which is neither knowable nor representable – in turn, to appreciate how the ‘face’ might appear through strategies of the critical image – then reading Levinas in Totality and Infinity offers a different apprehension of the ‘face’: one that is helpful for us to consider the pronomial ‘I’ of Lustmord in terms of the ‘face’ and, in doing so, to suggest how we, as readers, might respond ethically to it. In this book, Levinas suggests that our relation to the ‘face’, neither cognitive nor optic, is discursive. Whereas our relation to the Other through knowledge and vision is characterised by appropriation, discursive relations are, he argues, characterised by divergence and change. This suggests that the Other, as the ‘face’, is unknowable to me partly because we are always in the process of becoming different through the course of a discursive exchange: an exchange in which I am solicited to respond to another’s expression, be this gestural, verbal, facial. This, to me, suggests that the ‘face’ is, if not a thing seen, than a position taken: a relational position. More precisely, I see it as a discursive relational position. Positioned discursively with the ‘face’, there is contact, but not appropriation: ‘The fact that the face maintains a relation with me by discourse does not range him in the same; he remains absolute within the

th e m at e r ial r e ach o f th e w o r d

relation,’ Levinas writes. ‘For the ethical relationship which subtends discourse is not a species of consciousness whose ray emanates from the I; it puts this I in question. This putting in question emanates from the other’ (Levinas 195). For my purposes, I suggest a relationship to the ‘face’ in terms of a discursive relationship: one in which we are solicited to respond to another’s expression; an expression that does not verify, but – ever enigmatic – calls our very subjectivity into question. With this understanding, I return to my discussion of Lustmord in order to suggest that our encounter with the shifting and multiple pronominal ‘I’ of the text can be considered in terms of the Levinasian ‘face’ in the sense that it is a discursive position that solicits us, and that we are unable to appropriate or master. How, then, do we respond? I would now like to suggest a way that, as readers, we can engage in, to use terminology of art and architectural theorist Jane Rendell, a ‘critical spatial practice’.8 For me, such a critical spatial practice would entail intentionally reading the text from the second person as a means of ethically responding to Holzer’s text. What do I mean by this? I relate this back to the understanding, through Émile Benveniste, that in any discursive instance ‘I’ always implies a relation to ‘you’. Through Benveniste, we can appreciate that the ‘I’ of Lustmord – mobile and fluctuating through its continually shifting indexical-meaning – is also always decentred through its necessary relation to ‘you’. What I am particularly interested in are the implications of inhabiting this decentric position; that is, standing firm in our corporeal embodiment of the second person position in relation to the text, even amidst any spatial fluctuations that may result from our imaginative projection, either partially or fully identifying with each momentary positioning of Lustmord’s shifting ‘I’. I will discuss these implications with specific reference to examples from the text. In the following lines, the relationship between ‘I’ and ‘you’ is stated explicitly – the only instances throughout the text when this explicit ‘I’ and ‘you’ appear together: DÜ VERWECHSELST MICH MIT IRGENDETWAS IN DIR ICH KANN NICHT SAGEN WIE DU’S MIT MIR MACHEN WIRST

181



182

p o e tics a n d p lac e

(YOU CONFUSE ME WITH SOMETHING THAT IS IN YOU I WILL NOT PREDICT HOW YOU WANT TO USE ME) p. 7 THE BIRD TURNS ITS HEAD AND LOOKS WITH ONE EYE WHEN YOU ENTER p.9 DU HAST HAUT IM MUND DU LECKST MICH WIE WAHNSINNIG (YOU HAVE SKIN IN YOUR MOUTH YOU LICK ME STUPIDLY) p.11 MY NOSE BROKE IN THE GRASS MY EYES ARE SORE FROM MOVING AGAINST YOUR PALM p.15 ICH WEISSWER DU BISTUNDESTUT MIRGAR NICHT GUT (I KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND IT DOES ME NO GOOD AT ALL) p. 20 DEINE GRÄSSLICHE SPRACHE UMSCHWIRRT MEINEN KOPF (YOUR AWFUL LANGUAGE IS IN THE AIR BY MY HEAD) p.21 MIT DIR IN MIR BEGINNE ICH DEN TOD ZU AHNEN (WITH YOU INSIDE ME COMES THE KNOWLEDGE OF MY DEATH) p.29

In each of these instances, textual conditions of the utterance suggest that this ‘I’, whether explicit or implicitly stated, designates the Victim whereas the ‘you’ designates the Perpetrator: one who confuses and uses the Victim, enters her, tastes her skin and licks her stupidly, breaks her, whom she knows, who fills the air around her with an awful language and who brings her the knowledge of her death. In these examples, the Victim and Perpetrator exist as relational discursive subjects within the violent textual reality of Lustmord’s depiction of rape and murder. The Victim here is both subject in relation and subjugated to the Perpetrator. However, even as textual conditions suggest that the ‘you’ in the lines above designates the Perpetrator, clearly a reader of the text, when reading from the second person, is also solicited to take up this position of ‘you’ as the site of the ‘I’s address. This, as I see it, carries two important effects.

th e m at e r ial r e ach o f th e w o r d

Firstly, to take up the position of ‘you’ in these instances, the reader, as one who exists in a material reality ‘beyond’ the text, becomes subjectively aligned with the Perpetrator of Lustmord. As per my discussion of the identification with the ‘I’ above, the questions become: would the reader accept this subjective alignment with the ‘you’? If so, I (reader) would enter into the textual reality of Lustmord as ‘you’ (Perpetrator) in relation to ‘I’ (Victim), who I confuse and use, enter, taste and lick stupidly, break, am known by, around whom I fill the air with an awful language and to whom I bring the knowledge of death. Do I feel guilty, ashamed, aroused, exhilarated? My emotional response, as much as my acceptance or rejection of this alignment, would be specific to the range of discursive possibilities available to me together with my particular history, knowledge and experience. In any case, this subjective alignment has the effect of implicating the reader – or, bearing in mind Lustmord’s public circulation, readers – in the violence of the text. Reading these lines of Lustmord from the second person position, ‘we’ as ‘you’, are collectively implicated as Perpetrators. By extension, we are all guilty, in some way, of perpetuating violence against women. This recognition is, I think, an important – if uncomfortable – effect of reading the Lustmord text from the second person. That said, I have stressed my interest in the implications of the reader standing firm in his or her corporeal situatedness ‘outside’ of the text when reading from the second person, even amidst any imaginary projection or, in this case, partial or full alignment with subject positions ‘inside’ of the text. This has a very different effect. I suggest that, by inhabiting the second person position in relation to the Lustmord, standing firm in one’s corporeal reality beyond the text, a reader engages in the kind of seeing and listening that Deutsche calls ‘witnessing’ in the course of her discussion of the critical image with specific reference to Wodiczko’s Hiroshima Projection. Arguing that the kind of seeing and listening known as witness is ‘an act that is crucial in our time of collective, humaninflicted traumas, such as war and torture, that call out for witnesses’, Deutsche goes on to draw on philosopher Giorgio Agamben who theorises the position of witness as the basis of ethicopolitical subjectivity because, as he says, ‘the witness responds to the suffering

183



184

p o e tics a n d p lac e

of others without taking the place of others’ (Deutsche 68). In this vein, reading from the second person is an ethicopolitical subject position: one from which, in the case of Lustmord, a reader sees and listens to the traumatic events that are depicted whilst appreciating that these are happening to another. This is another’s suffering, not one’s own. The reader must therefore accept his or her inability to fully know or comprehend the situation – renounce any will to mastery in order to, as Deutsche writes, ‘bear witness to the truth of suffering over a traumatic event’ (Deutsche 69). I will continue to explore the implications of this with specific reference to the Lustmord text. As noted, the instances above are the only utterances in Lustmord wherein the ‘you’ is explicitly stated in the ‘I’s address. Throughout the rest of the utterances in the text, ‘you’ are addressed, but only implicitly stated. The following utterances are ‘spoken’ by an ‘I’ where textual conditions again suggest that this ‘I’ designates the Victim; however, the ‘you’ of the Victim’s address is implicit rather than explicit: I HAVE THE BLOOD JELLY p.10 IN MIR STECKEN HAARE (HAIR IS STUCK INSIDE ME) p.19 MEINE BRÜSTE SIND SO ANGESCHWOLLEN DASS ICH HINEINBEISSE (MY BREASTS ARE SO SWOLLEN THAT I BITE THEM) p.22 I AM AWAKE IN THE PLACE WHERE WOMEN DIE p.31

Unlike the previous utterances where the ‘you’ was explicit, here the implied ‘you’ of the ‘I’s address is less clear. Arguably, the ambiguity of the implicit ‘you’ in these utterances would allow the reader to step into this position with more ease than in the previous instances where textual conditions more suggestively relate the position of ‘you’ to the Perpetrator. It is even possible to appreciate that the ‘you’ addressed in these utterances is, in fact, the reader. In this case, the indexical-meaning of the ‘you’ actually designates one who exists in the world of objects and things ‘beyond’ Lustmord ’s textual

th e m at e r ial r e ach o f th e w o r d

boundaries: a position in which we, reading from the second person, stand firm. This may offer the reader a sense of distance from the reality of the text since, physically, she is ‘here’, in the world, and not ‘there’, in the scene of violence. Still, wherever physically placed, the reader is textually situated as the recipient of the ‘I’s address, and so positioned as a discursive subject in relation to the Victim’s ‘I’. Privy to the Victim’s statements of self-assertion amidst the violent trauma of the text, the reader is solicited to respond. The use of the first-person pronomial position in the Lustmord text therefore introduces the distant and alien subject of violence – the ‘I’ of Lustmord ’s Victim – into a discursive relation with the reader, implicating the reader within Lustmord ’s textual reality even as she exists in the world ‘outside’ of it. The reader becomes responsible for, in the sense that she is able to respond to, the Victim by listening to – witnessing – the events depicted. In the above examples, I looked at how the relationship between ‘I’ and ‘you’ figures within utterances ‘spoken’ by the Victim. I shall now look at how this relationship figures within utterances ‘spoken’ by the Perpetrator and Observer, implying an address to ‘you’. In the following lines, textual conditions suggest that the ‘I’ designates the Perpetrator, where the ‘you’ is implied as a recipient of the ‘I’s address. ICH SEHE SIE IN DER HORKE SITEEN DAS ÖFFNET SIE UND ICH KANN SIE VON UNTEN NEAMEN (I FIND HER SQUATTING ON HER HEELS AND THIS OPENS HER SO I CAN GET HER FROM BELOW) p.4 ICH LEGE MEIN KINN AUF IHRE SCHULTER SIE REGT SICH NICHT ICH KANN MICH KONZENTRIEREN (I HOOK MY CHIN OVER HER SHOULDER NOW THAT SHE IS STILL I CAN CONCENTRATE) p.13 I TAKE HER FACE WITH ITS FINE HAIRS. I POSITION HER MOUTH p.14

Elsewhere, in the following utterances spoken by ‘I’ where textual and contextual conditions suggest that this ‘I’ designates the Observer, the ‘you’ is also implied as a recipient of the ‘I’s address:

185



186

p o e tics a n d p lac e

ICH MÓCATE IHR HAÄR BÚRSTEN ABER IHR GERUCH TREIBT MICH ANS ANDERE ENDE DES ZIMMERS ICH HABE DEN ATEM SO LANG ICH KONNTE ANGEHALTEN ICH WEISS DASS ICH SIE ENTTAUSCHE (I WANT TO BRUSH HER HAIR BUT THE SMELL OF HER MAKES ME CROSS THE ROOM I HELD MY BREATH AS LONG AS I COULD I KNOW I DISAPPOINT HER) p.12 I FIND HER TOWELS SHOVED IN TIGHT SPOTS. I TAKE THEM TO BURN ALTHOUGH I FEAR TOUCHING HER THINGS p.26 IHR BLUT IST IM AVFNEHMER ICA BIN IN IHN VERNARRT ICH BRINGE DIE FEUCHTEN SPUREN MEINER MUTTER HINAUS ICH KEARE ZURÚCK UM IHREN SCHMUCK ZU VERSTECKEN (HER GORE IS IN A BALL OF CLEANING RAGS I CARRY OUT THE DAMPNESS LEFT FROM MY MOTHER I RETURN TO HIDE HER THINGS) p.30

Notably, throughout all of these statements where the ‘I’ designates either the Perpetrator or the Observer and implies an address to ‘you’ there are instances of the third-person pronouns ‘she’ and ‘her’. In all of these instances, textual conditions suggest that ‘she’ and ‘her’ refer to the Victim. In order to appreciate how the reader, positioned in the second person as ‘you’ in relation to the ‘I’ of the Perpetrator and/or Observer, relates to the Victim as ‘she’ and ‘her’, we must first appreciate how this third-person position operates grammatically and, for this, I turn to Benveniste’s essay on ‘The Nature of Pronouns’ (1956) where he offers an account of the third-person grammatical position. According to Benveniste, third-person pronouns belong to language as a repertory of signs: they do not manifest language actively in an instance of discourse, as do ‘I’ and ‘you’. Third-person pronouns are not actively speaking subjects but, rather, spoken subjects.9 How, then, does a reader, inhabiting the implied ‘you’ of the Perpetrator and Observer’s first-person address, relate to ‘she’ and ‘her’? Taking up this discursive subject position in relation to the Perpetrator’s ‘I’ in the examples above, the reader ‘listens’ as he ‘speaks’ of how he finds the Victim squatting on ‘her’ heels, hooks his chin over ‘her’ shoulder and takes ‘her’ face with its fine hair. The reader, receiving the Perpetrator’s first-person

th e m at e r ial r e ach o f th e w o r d

account, is thus offered insight into the mindset of the Perpetrator as he directs his attack against ‘her’, vicariously standing witness to the event. Meanwhile, when receiving the first-person accounts of the Observer, the reader ‘listens’ as the Observer ‘speaks’ of a desire to make contact with ‘her’, to brush ‘her’ hair, but of how ‘her’ smell keeps the Observer at bay. The Observer also ‘speaks’ of finding ‘her’ towels and burning them, as well as of the gore-stained rags that belonged to ‘her’ that the Observer carries away. The reader, receiving the Observer’s account, is made aware of the effect that the Victim’s abuse has upon the Observer, and vicariously witnesses the aftermath of the attack on ‘her’. As a discursive subject in relation to the Perpetrator and Observer, and a unique being in the world of objects and things, the reader is again solicited to bear witness to the acts of violence perpetuated against ‘her’ as well as the effect of this violence on ‘her’. Engaging with the text in these instances and, in doing so, bearing witness to the events depicted, I, personally, feel helpless. My inclination is to find a way to remove the Victim from the scene. In one reading of this text, I attempted this removal through a critical and imaginative sleight-of-hand wherein I read the Victim in relation to the objects and things that also inhabit the third-person position in the Lustmord text: a bird, her knowledge, her face and her death. Aligned with this position, I argued that ‘she’ was at ‘at least allowed to remain alone with her own mind, body and demise’. I am, however, uncomfortable with that reading now. I question my feeling of satisfaction in being able to imagine ‘her’ way out. In any case, it has nothing to do with the violent reality that the Lustmord text references. Perhaps, then, it is more appropriate for me – for us – to sit uncomfortably in relation to this text. Indeed, perhaps it is important generally, when engaging with critical aesthetic practices such as Lustmord, to sit amidst their discomfort rather than finding clever ways of avoiding it. Arguably, it is from such a place of discomfort that we – as a body of recipients, a multiple ‘you’ bearing witness – might build up the collective moral outrage that such artworks impel and that, if effective, can instigate change. And yet, as we shall see in the case of Lustmord, the artwork’s particular relationship to the threat of violence – through this, the recipients’ – ultimately proved too uncomfortable for many to bear.

187



188

p o e tics a n d p lac e

Material Poetics and Lustmord: The Dis-easing of Public Space In a conversation with Christian Kämmerling that appeared in Süddeutsche Zeitung along with Lustmord, Holzer speaks of her desire to communicate through the artwork the horrors of the Bosnian atrocity to her readers by using, in her words, ‘something real that would confirm the terror’ (Holzer, ‘Interview Kämmerling’ 123). This resulted in her decision, along with graphic designer Tibor Kalman, to use ink mixed with a small amount of blood donated from women volunteers in order to print one line of text. Holzer’s exchange as it appeared in the magazine is as follows: JH: I was opening my mail one day and there were bananas and plums inside. It was an appeal for money and a gift of fruit. Maybe this is the connection to our cover page: we wanted to use something real that would confirm the terror. Any kind of thing…a body part. We even debated using sperm and finally decided on blood. At first it seemed absolutely unrealistic to realize it … doctors, chemists, lawyers and printers all just shook their heads. They pondered as if we were going to use a crazily dangerous high-explosive like nitro-glycerin or something. Here we’re talking about our natural life juices. That’s the irony of the whole affair. Hardly anyone is disgusted by how much blood is spilled in this world. But just as soon as it gets into our living rooms, we panic. Is the blood germ-free, is it lab-tested, medically inspected, ethical, legal? And on and on… CK: There is no need to panic. Dr Marcel Heim, the director of the blood transfusion center in Madgeburg, has worked out an extremely complicated procedure especially for this situation which takes the pure coloring agent out of the tested blood. Coloring technicians developed the substance so that it would be usable with normal printing ink. Women volunteered their blood for this signal action. Some of them were from the former Yugoslavia. JH: It’s a shame we couldn’t bleed the commanders and the soldiers who were involved. A few hundred thousand litres would have been great…Instead of the murderers, the women who still survive were asked and they volunteered their blood. I thank them for that. (Holzer, ‘Interview Kämmerling’ 123)

th e m at e r ial r e ach o f th e w o r d

Related to this, Fig.5.2 (below) shows is the front cover of Süddeutsche Zeitung with one of the lines of the Lustmord text printed as an offset on card (30×23cm). Throughout this book I have been discussing what I refer to as a ‘material poetics’. In doing so, I have argued that aspects of an artwork such as light, voice and handwriting – as well as aspects of an artwork’s material substrate such as screen, page and the built environment – can be considered as intrinsic to the communicative capacities of a material poetic practice. More than any of the other artworks I have discussed, this line from Lustmord evidences the most intentional deployment of a material poetics by an artist in an effort to communicate the horror, atrocity and suffering of others through, in Holzer’s words, ‘something real’ that would confirm the terror. This ‘something real’ is the blood of the women volunteers, some of whom were survivors of the Bosnian atrocity and others of whom were German women sympathetic to Holzer’s artistic cause, mixed in with the ink used to print the line of text on the card that was attached to the front cover of Süddeutsche Zeitung. Interestingly, it would only have been by reading the interview with Kämmerling that a recipient would come to appreciate the significance of this line of text on the



Fig. 5.2

Cover image of Lustmord from Jenny Holzer, Lustmord. (Translates as ‘I AM AWAKE IN THE PLACE WHERE WOMEN DIE’)

189



190

p o e tics a n d p lac e

front cover. So, a reader would already have handled the magazine, encountered the artwork and, if compelled, read the interview before becoming aware of the implications: the fact that we have blood on our hands. Keeping with the terminology I have been using to describe a material poetics, the front cover of Süddeutsche Zeitung, printed in blood-ink, becomes a composite of indexical symbols, in a material sense, whose symbolic-meaning is generated through language as a system of signs and whose indexical-meaning is generated through the material quality of the ink. This indexical-meaning couples the symbolic-meaning of the utterance here ‘spoken’ by the first-person pronoun ‘ich’ (‘I’). With the ‘ich’ (‘I’) in this instance printed in the blood-ink, it thus becomes an indexical symbol, both in a grammatical and material sense, whose grammatical indexical-meaning refers to the Victim within the textual parameters of Lustmord and whose material indexical-meaning refers to the women survivors of the Bosnian atrocity as well as women volunteers in Germany who donated their blood for the purposes of the artwork. In this sense, the ‘I’ who appears and who speaks does so through the collective body and polyphonic ‘voice’ – embodies, in Levinas’ terms, the ‘face’ – of women subjected to violence’. In turn, we, the readers – as ‘you’ – are positioned in relation to these women. But not just positioned, we are in contact with these women. Through the artwork’s circulation in Süddeutsche Zeitung, the material poetics of Holzer’s blood-ink thus becomes a point of contact. Phrased another way, a material indexicality of relation is established between women subjected to violence, those who empathise and the recipients of Lustmord. We can now appreciate that the ‘ich’ (‘I’) of the Victim ‘speaking’ on the front cover of Süddeutsche Zeitung is decentred not only in relation to the discursive ‘you’, but also to ‘them’: the women survivors of violence as well as the volunteers. Through the Victim’s ‘I’, decentred through ‘them’, we are able to ‘listen’ to a story told from a different perspective: ‘their’ story. This is important, especially when bearing in mind my call above for a critical spatial practice of reading in the ethicopolitical subjective position of ‘you’: a position from which we bear witness, without taking the place of another or others. With the blood-ink of the ‘I’ indexically related to ‘them’, this further

th e m at e r ial r e ach o f th e w o r d

thwarts any attempt we might make to appropriate the position of Victim; that is, to inhabit the ‘I’ through our imaginative projection in an act of identification. Instead, we need to read this blood as ‘their’ blood; hear this story as ‘their’ story. We must listen and, if compelled to speak, we must do on behalf of ‘them’ – not ‘I’. With this in mind, however, I recall the quote from Butler above where she states that our fear of understanding a point of view different from our centric ‘I’ ‘belies a deeper fear that we shall be taken up by it, find it is contagious, become infected in a morally perilous way by thinking of the presumed enemy’ (Butler, Precarious 8). There is an unfortunate parallel between Butler’s statement and the reality of the readers’ reception of Lustmord in Süddeutsche Zeitung in 1993. At the time that this text was disseminated, there was an incident in which a blood bank in Germany was contaminated by the AIDS virus. Holzer’s blood-ink, circulated in this context, signified to many readers a threat to their own health as readers associated the blood in Holzer’s artwork with this contaminated blood. The public’s fear of contamination – in addition, undoubtedly, to the long-established cultural taboos about blood, and particularly women’s blood – caused a scandal and uproar (Holzer, ‘Simon Interview’ 31). On the one hand, this resulted in widespread attention being drawn to Holzer’s artwork and, through this, to the murderous acts committed in Bosnia as well as to violence perpetuated against women more generally, as referred to by Lustmord. However, for those recipients of the artwork who conflated the threat of disease with their own corporeal reality, fear overshadowed the possibility of their ‘listening’ to the artwork’s message. The space between the artwork, its recipient and its referential and material context became infected by fear and disease, emerging as a ‘diseased space’: one that, perceived as a threat by the reader, was to be avoided like the plague. The readers’ fear of becoming infected by another corporeality thus kept many from hearing another’s point of view. In one sense, this signals the artwork’s failure to communicate the horrific violence that its message embodied as, ironically, the material poetics through which Holzer had hoped to foster such communication through ‘something real’ became the very source of its corruption. Which is to say, the material poetics drew attention to the artwork’s message

191



192

p o e tics a n d p lac e

and, in doing so, made it inaudible to many who received it. And while not intentional, this failure can, I think, can be viewed in light of the artwork’s critical strategies that, as I have argued, are still relevant today. Speaking to ‘real’ bodies about the violence done to other ‘real’ bodies, circulating this in the public sphere through a mediated representation that physically and existentially brings these bodies into contact, the unintentional failure of reception that arose within the framework of the artwork’s intended address actually exposes our incapacity to hear another’s suffering amidst the cacophony arising from a fear of our own corporeal vulnerability. Should this have any continuing relevance, it might be to solicit us to examine other mediated constructs that incite such a fear. Those that keep us loud and raging – unable to listen to others’ ‘voices’; unable, then, to respond.





Conclusion Leaving Poetics and Place: Opening Questions onto the Material and Spatial Potential of Empathic Process

At the outset of this book I invoked the sense of ‘death in language’ that, for philosopher George Steiner, leaves the poet in silence. I have since looked at how certain artworks, amidst this silence, are yet able to communicate through a material poetics and, so doing, solicit us to respond. How do the artworks ‘speak’, and how do we ‘listen’ and respond? Such was the question underlying this project. I posited the indexical symbol understood in a material sense as a basis for the sign in a material poetics and, therefore, the artworks throughout Poetics and Place. Coupling the symbolic-meaning of the linguistic sign with the indexical-meaning of its material properties, a composite of such signs within an artwork’s message is capable, potentially, of addressing situations and events that lie beyond comprehension, things that resist verbal representation alone. Any embodied enactment of a verbal message, I argued, can be considered in terms of a composite of indexical symbols insofar as the material qualities of ‘voice’ – be this the quality of the speaking voice or, by extension, the quality of the scriptural or gesture ‘voice’ – has an indexical-meaning that is specific to the spatiotemporal context of the utterance. This indexical-meaning is, moreover, intrinsic to the indexical relation or contact that is established between one who ‘speaks’ and one who ‘listens’ within the act of communication. The indexical symbol in a material sense therefore relates to my understanding of the discursive subjects ‘I’ and ‘you’ as a basis for the subject. Arguing that the ‘I’ and ‘you’ can be considered in terms of indexical symbols both in the grammatical and material sense, I looked at how they are constituted ideologically in relation to one another through a range of discursive positions available to them in the context of a given exchange. I also looked at how they are related 193



194

p o e tics a n d p lac e

existentially through a dualistic projection of ‘voice’ whereby they appear both to one another as well as, more broadly, a plurality of others in the world of objects and things. The projection of ‘voice’ intrinsic to the discursive exchange between ‘I’ and ‘you’ is therefore capable of extending the subject(s) beyond the particularity of a dyadic relation and into the political public sphere of appearance. Taking Roni Horn’s Pair Object III: For Two Rooms as a ‘theoretical object’ in the first chapter allowed me to enact an emergence of the indexical symbol in a material sense and, by analogy, relate this to the discursive subjects ‘I’ and ‘you’ as indexical symbols in both the grammatical and material sense. Engaging with Emily Dickinson’s later manuscripts in the second chapter, and considering each page as a site for both Dickinson’s performance of creative writing and a performance of critical writing, I was able to take into account the meaningful material quality of both sign and substrate in a material poetics. I also looked at how the manipulation of the linguistic code of a verbal message extends into relation with other semiotic codes, and at how the verbal message of Dickinson’s manuscripts is organised through a linguistic coupled with a visual and spatial syntax. The suggestion that these manuscripts are also organised through a material spatial syntax introduced the idea that an artwork employing a verbal message is capable of relating, necessarily, to its material context; that is, the world of objects and things. Dedicating the third chapter to Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Passages Paysages, I drew out the complexity of an appreciation of ‘voice’ for a theory of subjectivity. This chapter also introduced an ethical contract of aesthetic relation. Based on a respect for the fundamental limits of understanding both of oneself and of/for another, this is coupled with a desire on the part of aesthetic practices to communicate even through this limitation and, on the part of a recipient, to respond. This ethical contract framed my subsequent engagement with Fiona Templeton’s Cells of Release and Jenny Holzer’s Lustmord. The last two chapters, dedicated to Templeton’s and Holzer’s work, draw out not only the political imperative behind, but the ethical potential for a material poetics. Looking specifically at Cells of Release, I suggested that an artwork employing material poetics was capable of working with aesthetic strategies in order to communicate

c o n cl u si o n

the plight of the body in pain in order to incite political action. More specifically, this artwork became a means of inciting activists to write letters of petition on behalf of prisoners of conscience globally, thereby speaking on behalf of another. I found a contrast between this and the aesthetic strategies in Holzer’s Lustmord. Drawing attention to the situation of war crimes in Bosnia during the wars in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina (1991–95), this artwork introduced the ‘voice’ of women victims of these war crimes into the political public sphere of appearance. Under a different rubric, I looked at how the artwork employed aesthetic strategies to introduce the ‘face’ of these women, understood in the Levinasian sense, into the political realm. In doing so, the artwork employed feminist aesthetic strategies to intentionally introduce the limits of knowability, thereby thwarting a masterful or triumphalist vision. Here the ethical contract based on a respect for the limits of knowability and desire to communicate through this met with the political imperative to thwart knowability in order that recipients understand differently. I introduced a criticism of Holzer’s artwork and her use of the ‘I’ and the artwork’s material poetics to speak as another that, I argued, potentially undermined the ethical potential of the project. Nevertheless, the artwork’s feminist aesthetic strategies lent themselves to a critical spatial practice of reading the artwork from the second person, which I suggested as both an ethical imperative and political act. Can reading from the second person as a critical spatial strategy of reception inform critical aesthetic strategies of making artwork, particularly artworks employing a verbal message? I conclude with this question, which is intended to open up a discussion about the role of empathy in politically engaged practices of contemporary art and poetry. More precisely, through this question I enter into these current discussions.1 In an essay entitled ‘Will the Real Empathy Please Stand Up’ (2011), philosopher Amy Coplan offers what she considers a definitive conceptualisation of empathy as complex imaginative process ‘through which an observer simulates another person’s situated psychological states while maintaining clear self-other differentiation’ (Coplan 58).2 Coplan is distinguishing her more narrow definition of empathy from other processes that she sees as related, but not specifically the empathic

195



196

p o e tics a n d p lac e

process. This includes mimicry or emotional contagion, where there is a tendency toward imitating or synchronising postures, vocalisation, expressions and movements with another person, thereby ‘catching’ the other’s emotion (Coplan 45). The relatively recent research into the phenomenon of ‘mirror neurons’ has contributed to this understanding of empathy. However, as Coplan and others have argued, emotional contagion may contribute to the empathic process insofar as it serves as a catalyst for the simulation of another’s emotional state in oneself, but is not empathy in the sense that she defines it as it does not involve higher-level functions of imagination and perspective-taking. Along these lines, Coplan distinguishes her definition of empathy from a self-oriented perspective taking: what she terms a type of ‘pseudoempathy’ that differs from the ‘other-oriented perspective taking’ of empathy proper. ‘What is pseudo-empathy?’ writes Coplan. ‘I use this term to refer to an attempt to adopt a target individual’s perspective by imagining how we ourselves would think, feel, and desire if we were in the target individual’s position’ (Coplan 54). Although this kind of self-oriented perspective-taking may, in some cases, provide individuals with an understanding of another’s experience, this is most often in cases where there is already an amount of overlap between self and other or where the situation might be construed as a ‘universal’ response. In this manner, self-oriented perspective is less amenable as a framework for appreciating the situation or experience of another who is very different from us. Such is the case, however, with other-oriented perspective taking where ‘a person represents the other’s situation from the other person’s point of view and attempts to simulate the target individual’s experiences as though she were the target individual’ (Coplan 54). Herein lies the key to Coplan’s understanding of empathy proper: it involves imagining onself into another’s situation, and attempting to simulate the experience, as she writes, ‘from your point of view’ (Coplan 54). The use of the secondperson pronominal position here is, for me, striking as it suggests the importance of the second-person position as a way of remaining attentive to the relevant differences between oneself and another in the empathic process. To appreciate empathy as a complex imaginative process that allows one insight or understanding into the emotional state of

c o n cl u si o n

another – as another – suggests the importance of narrative for the empathic process. Coplan actually articulates this elsewhere, in an essay entitled ‘Empathic Engagement with Narrative Fictions’ (2004) where she looks at how the spatiotemporal dynamic of narrative fiction, in particular, is conducive to empathic exchange. By adopting positions within a text, Coplan argues, we are able to mentally move around a narrative framework in order to begin to understand different perspectives. In doing so, it is possible to maintain the selfother differentiation, whilst becoming deeply engaged in another’s psychological state. This, to me, suggests that the spatiality inherent in narrative is conducive to the spatiality inherent in the empathic exchange, allowing for imaginative projection and fostering cognitive perspective-taking even amidst the turbulence of emotional movement. In turn, it suggests the role of verbal aesthetic practices within the spatiality of the empathic process. How might working intentionally with the dynamic of the secondperson position play a part in the complex process of imagination, cognition and feeling that is the empathic exchange? What other verbal aesthetic strategies aside from (or supplementary to) narrative fiction cultivate the spatiality conducive to the empathic process? Further, how can aesthetic strategies that work not only with verbal aesthetics, but also visual aesthetics and material poetics compound and exploit the complexity inherent in the empathic process for a politically engaged practice of art and poetry? I leave these questions open by way of conclusion – and suggestion.







197

Notes Introduction





1 Relevant books on the Language school include Charles Bernstein and Bruce Andrews, eds, The L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Book (1984), Charles Bernstein, A Poetics (1992), Robert Frank and Henry Sayre, eds, The Line in Postmodern Poetry (1988), Lyn Hejinian, The Language of Inquiry (2000) and Ron Silliman, The New Sentence (1977). Relevant anthologies for Language and linguistically innovative poetries include: Ron Silliman, ed., In the American Tree (1986); Maggie O’Sullivan, ed., Out of Everywhere: Linguistically Innovative Poetry by Women in North America and the UK (1996); Mary Margaret Sloan, ed., Moving Borders: Three Decades of Innovative Writing by Women (1998); Mark Wallace and Steven Marks, eds, Telling it Slant: AvantGarde Poetics of the 1990s (2002); Carrie Etter, ed., Infinite Difference: Other Poetries by U.K. Women Poets (2010). 2 Marjorie Perloff, a prominent literary critic and champion of Language poetry, writes in ‘Postmodernism and the Impasse of the Lyric’ (1984) that ‘ [t]he unified I embodies a Romantic vision, one whose utterance is characteristic of the lyric form itself ’ (Perloff 45). Elsewhere, in ‘Language Poetry and the Lyric Subject: Ron Silliman’s Albany, Susan Howe’s Buffalo’ (1999), Perloff argues that ‘ [o]ne of the cardinal principles – perhaps the cardinal principle – of American Language poetics (as of the related current trend in England, usually labelled “linguistically innovative poetries”) has been the dismissal of ‘voice’ as the foundational principle of lyric poetry’ (Perloff, ‘Language’ 405). Relevant books by Perloff include: Poetic License: Essays on Modernist and Postmodernist Lyric (1990), Poetry On and Off the Page: Essays for Emergent Occasions (1998), Radical Artifice: Writing Poetry In the Age of Media (1991) and 21st-Century Modernism: The ‘New’ Poetics (2002). 3 Indicative of such post-structuralist thought is Julia Kristeva’s notion of signifiance, as discussed in numerous writings, but particularly Semiotiké: Recherches pour une sémanalyse (1969) and La Révolution

199



200

n ot e s to pag e s 3 – 4





du langage poétique (1974). Looking primarily at modernist literature – for example, works by Mallarme and Joyce – Kristeva argues that such work eschews signification, or meanings generated by the linguistic sign through the relationship between the signifier and the signified, in favour of signifiance, or meanings generated through the materiality of the linguistic signifier unhinged from its signified. This ‘revolution in poetic language’, in turn, has a bearing upon Kristeva’s understanding of a speaking subject ‘I’, wounded by the ‘thetic cut’. For Kristeva, the thetic cut marks an inherent split from the phenomenal plenitude of the semiotic chora with its rhythmic pulsations and drives, the articulations of signifiance, upon gaining entry into the realm of language or the Symbolic where meaning is generated through signification. Poetic language thus becomes, for Kristeva, a means of gaining access to the pre-symbolic realm or, in her terms, the Semiotic. Kristeva’s argument is undoubtedly suggestive of a material poetics, but not in the sense that I am employing this term. 4 Indeed, many of the poets/artists that I am looking at are often associated with such poetry. Emily Dickinson has been championed as a forebear of (women’s) experimental writing. See, for example, Jerome McGann’s Black Riders and Susan Howe’s The Birth-Mark: Unsettling the Wilderness in American Literary History (1993) as well as My Emily Dickinson (1985). Meanwhile, both Cha and Templeton have been anthologised in collections related to linguistically innovative poetry. See, for example, Kevin Killian, ed., The Kenning Anthology of Poets Theater 1945–1985 (2010); Maggie O’Sullivan, ed., Out of Everywhere: Linguistically Innovative Poetry by Women in North America and the UK (1996); Messerli, Douglas, ed., From the Other Side of the Century: New American Poetry 1960–1990 (2000); Sloan, Mary Margaret, ed., Moving Borders: Three Decades of Innovative Writing by Women (1998). 5 My task is not to reconcile Language and lyric poetry; for this, see Rankine, Claudine and Juliana Spahr, eds, American Women Poets in the 21st Century: Where Language Meets Lyric (2002) and St John, David and Cole Swenson, eds, American Hybrid: Where Language Meets Lyric (2009). Nor is my task to definitively rethink the role of subjectivity in lyric poetry; for this, see ‘Language Poetry and the Lyric Subject: Ron Silliman’s Albany, Susan Howe’s Buffalo’ (1999). Here Perloff offers such reconsideration through questioning the ‘ostensibly deauthorized work of the Language poets’ by investigating what she calls ‘signatures’ within the work of two poets associated with the Language movement, Ron Silliman and Susan Howe. Significantly, in the course of her argument, Perloff refers to Silliman’s essay ‘Who Speaks: Ventriloquism and the Self in the







n ot e s to pag e 4

Poetry of Reading’ (1998) in which he refers to Jakobson’s definition of the contact stating: ‘The relation between agency and identity must be understood as interactive, fluid, negotiable … [a] relation between the poet, a real person with “history, biography, psychology”, and the reader, no less real, no less encumbered by all this baggage. In poetry, the self is a relation between writer and reader that is triggered by what [Roman] Jakobson called contact, the power of presence’ (Silliman 373 in Perloff 412). I read Silliman’s claim, and Perloff ’s referencing of it, as evidence of a shift in thinking within the Language movement that, invoking Jakobson’s contact, aligns with my own project. In this respect, I take off from the point of reconciliation between Language and lyric, with the attendant reconceptualisation of lyric subjectivity, to consider the possibilities thereby introduced. 6 Other relevant books by Drucker including Figuring the Word: Essays on Books, Writing and Visual Poetics (1998) and The Century of Artists’ Books, 2nd Edition (2004). 7 While Drucker is specifically concerned with modernist typography, the fruitful relationship between modernist visual art and poetry is also discussed in Freeman, Judi, The Dada and Surrealist Word-Image (1989); Morley, Simon, Writing on the Wall: Word and Image in Modern Art (2003, see below). See also the following anthologies: Motherwell, Robert, ed., Dada Painters and Poets: An Anthology (1951); Caws, Mary Ann, Surrealist Painters and Poets: An Anthology (2002). A relevant anthology looking at a crossover of visual and verbal poetics, whilst not specifically looking at modernism, is Rasula, Jed and Steve McCaffrey, eds, Imagining Language: An Anthology (2001). 8 The post-structuralist critique that Drucker refers to with regard to the first strand of her model is Jacques Derrida’s concept of ‘différance’. Understanding that the meaning of any word is contingent upon its difference from all of the other words in the linguistic system, Derrida argues that one must therefore have an understanding of the entire system in order to locate meaning. This impossible task results in the endless deferral of meaning – the insubstantial and non-transcendent difference in Drucker’s model. This, she argues, must be reconciled with the call, in Marxist thought, to historically contextualise, thereby locating, the actual text – the phenomenological, apprehensible substance in Drucker’s model. See in particular Derrida’s Writing and Difference (1978) and Of Grammatology (1976) and, for an excellent overview and discussion of a Marxist critique of structuralist semiotics, which relates to Drucker’s need to develop a second strand to her model, see Coward,

201



202

n ot e s to pag e s 5 – 6









Rosalind and John Ellis, Language and Materialism: Developments in Semiology and the Theory of the Subject (1977). 9 Kotz’s book is a concentrated study of the crossing of experimental poetry and art practice, in particular; however, it is not the only recent publication relevant to this area of study. Much more broad in scope is the book Writing on the Wall: Word and Image in Modern Art (2003) by Simon Morley. Morley offers a considered and comprehensive survey of word and image practices within art, from modernism through to the present day and across national boundaries. The book is divided into chapters corresponding to the progression of art movements across the last century, with Morley providing a clear contextualisation of the historical, political and critical factors influencing artistic production, generally, and word-and-image production, specifically, in each. Morley’s nomadic approach to and through word and image practices across the last century results in an invaluable encyclopaedic account of this particular territory in art practice. For a less scholarly, yet invaluable recent resource surveying this territory, see Selby, Aimee, ed., Art and Text (2009). 10 Other relevant sources looking at materialities of recorded voice and screen include: Davidson, Michael, Ghostlier Demarcations: Modern Poetry and the Material Word (1997); Hayles, Katherine N., Writing Machines (2002); Morris, Adalaide, Sound States: Innovative Poetics and Acoustical Technologies (1997). 11 Meskimmon begins this chapter with a quote from Elizabeth Grosz, whose readings of French philosophers including Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida and Gilles Deleuze as well as the French feminist philosophers Luce Irigaray, Julia Kristeva and Michel le Doeff have become a cornerstone of feminist thinking and analysis. The pioneer of corporeal feminism, Grosz introduces issues of biological specificity into philosophical and cultural discourse, thereby exposing the epistemologies, institutions and disciplinary strategies through which the body is controlled both ideologically and materially in books such as Volatile Bodies: Toward a Corporeal Feminism (1994), Space, Time and Perversion: Essays on the Politics of Bodies (1995). Also relevant is her work with corporeality and spatiality in Architecture from the Outside (2002). As with Kristeva and Derrida, mentioned previously, Grosz’s important work could undoubtedly subtend a theory of material poetics, but not in the sense that I am employing this term. 12 Elsewhere, in ‘Practice as Thinking: Toward Feminist Aesthetics’ (2003) Meskimmon links an emphasis on materiality in feminist aesthetic strategies to a feminist critical practice, which I discuss











n ot e s to pag e s 17 – 22

in detail in my chapter dedicated to Holzer’s Lustmord. And in Engendering the City: Women Artists and Urban Space (1997) she looks specifically at issues of spatiality in relation to feminism and feminist art practice. 13 Jakobson argues that a verbal message with an orientation toward the addresser is characterised by the emotive function; toward the context by the referential function; toward the message by the poetic function; toward the contact by the phatic function; toward the code by the metalingual function; and toward the addressee by the conative function. 14 Citing Tolstoy’s artistic attention to detail in War and Peace, he then states that ‘the synecdoches “hair on the upper lip” and “bare shoulders” are used by the … writer to stand for the female characters for whom these features belong’ ( Jakobson, ‘Two Aspects’ 256). 15 Benveniste writes ‘Language re-produces reality. This is to be understood in the most literal way: reality is produced anew by means of language. The speaker recreates the event and his experience of the event by his discourse. The hearer grasps the discourse first, and through this discourse, the event which is being reproduced. Thus the situation inherent in the practice of language, namely that of exchange and dialogue, confers a double function on the act of discourse; for the speaker it represents reality, for the hearer it recreates that reality’ (Benveniste, ‘Look’ 22). 16 Peirce’s pragmatic, empirical and tertiary approach to semiotics is reflected in his insistence upon the signifying triad ‘sign’, ‘interpretant’ and ‘object’, as elucidated in his claim that ‘[a] sign is a thing which serves to convey knowledge of some other thing, which it is said to stand for or represent. This thing is called the object of the sign; the idea in the mind that the sign excites, which is a mental sign of the same object, is called an interpretant of the sign’ (Peirce, ‘Reasoning’ 13). Both in this respect as well as in his development of the typology icon, index, symbol, Peirce’s semiotics differs from the linguistics theorised by Saussure who, interestingly, developed his thinking around the same time with Peirce (1839– 1914) at Harvard University and Saussure (1857–1913) at the University of Geneva. Unlike Peirce’s semiotics, however, Saussure’s linguistics does not account for the user (i.e. speaker and listener), does not consider the meaningful role of the referent (i.e. the word’s relation to material reality) and is consistently based upon binary structures placed in opposition (e.g. articulatory/acoustical, sound/ sense, langue/parole, material/immaterial, paradigmatic/syntagmatic, sameness/opposition, synchronic/diachronic). Saussure’s exclusions

203



204

n ot e s to pag e s 22 – 29

and restrictions in his theoretical model prompted my turn to Peirce for the purposes of devising a theory of material poetics, and I am grateful to Dr Sharon Morris for pointing me in this direction. 17 An example of a complex sign is the photograph. Although cited as an example of an iconic sign in ‘Of Reasoning in General’, elsewhere Peirce clarifies that: ‘Photographs, especially instantaneous photographs, are very instructive, because we know that they are in certain respects exactly like the objects they represent. But this resemblance is due to the photographs having been produced under such circumstances that they were physically forced to correspond point by point to nature. In that aspect, then, they belong to the second class of signs, those by physical connection’ (Peirce, ‘What?’ 6). The photograph bears an iconic likeness to its object and, as such, ‘excite[s] analogous sensations in the mind for which it is a likeness. But it really stands unconnected with them’ (Peirce, ‘What?’ 9). However, this likeness of the photographic image is the result of ‘the photographs having been produced under such circumstances that they were physically forced to correspond point by point to nature’; thus, of an indexical relation. Ultimately, because the photographic negative bears an imprint or trace of light from the original object means that it ‘is physically connected with its object; they make an organic pair’ (Peirce, ‘What’ 9). If we follow Peirce’s distinction of the index above, this still does not mean that the interpreting mind has anything to do with this connection. In order for this to occur, the photograph would need also to be considered a symbol, in which case the photograph, as a mixed sign of icon and index, would become associated with the world or object through a learned association. So, for example, we open up a newspaper and, seeing a photographic image of military forces in the desert, interpret this as a sign of war and global conflict. 18 Burks’ ‘non-indexical symbol’ is, in fact, the symbol: the attribute of ‘non-indexical’ simply distinguishes that, for the purpose of his argument, Burks is defining symbolic meaning in opposition to meaning that is both symbolic and indexical (i.e. the indexical symbol). 19 I do, at one point, locate this within a psychoanalytic framework through Judith Butler’s reading of the Laplanchian primary scene of address; however, I do so in order to extend Butler’s argument for the purposes of aesthetics and criticism through a phenomenology of voice and appearance.



n ot e s to pag e s 39 – 62

Chapter 1 1 Ownership of this artwork entitles the buyer to one set of the objects, which can be placed in any of the four configurations. The following is a list of galleries and museums that own Things Which Happen Again and in which the artwork has been installed: Galerie Lelong, New York City (1988); The Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan (1988); Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas (1988); Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (1989); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1990); Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster (1991); Städtisches Museum Abteiberg Mönchengladbach (1991). 2 In Louise Bourgeois’ Spider: The Architecture of Art-Writing, Bal writes: ‘As I have argued elsewhere, this term [theoretical object] refers to works of art that deploy their own artistic and, in this case, visual medium to offer and articulate thought about art’ (Bal, 5). In a footnote Bal then refers to her previous works Reading ‘Rembrandt’ where she discusses this in terms of the ‘propositional content’ of a work of art, and Quoting Caravaggio: Contemporary Art, Preposterous History, where she argues that the term ‘theoretical object’ is ‘better suited to foregrounding both the theoretical thought and the visual articulation of that thought in visual objects’ (Bal, 5). 3 This claim is substantiated by a quote from Horn in her interview with Lynne Cooke (2000): ‘in Piece for Two Rooms you go into a space and see a simple disc’ (Horn, ‘Cooke’ 20). It is also evident from Horn’s delineation of the point of vantage in relation to the object in her drawing (Fig.1.3). 4 The sequence of describing a cone and, in turn, truncated cone geometrically is discussed above. 5 For a discussion of Arthur Burks’ reading of Peirce and, with this, the definition of ‘indexical-meaning’ and ‘symbolic-meaning’, see the discussion ‘Laying a Theoretical Foundation for Poetics and Place’ in the Introduction (p.15). 6 For clarification, the term ‘pragmatics’, in keeping with Charles Morris’ description of it in Foundations of the Theory of Signs (1938), is ‘the science of the relation of signs to their interpreters’ (Morris, Foundations 30). 7 In presenting this diagram, I would yet again stress that this is my imagined enactment of the artwork and is not intended to represent the only way that a viewer would engage with the objects in each room. Moreover, I would equally emphasise that my intention for the marks on the drawing to be read as punctuation is also only one way that these might be interpreted. 8 While I have here represented an act of comparison between two indexical-meanings, it is important to note that indexical-meanings

205



206

n ot e s to pag e s 64 – 65

are not a comparison between two but, rather, between a multiplicity of unique indexical-meanings. In other words, each indexicalmeaning of the indexical symbol is unique; thus, one would need a unique texture of the line to signify each unique indexical-meaning. Chapter 2





1 The fascicles refer to bundles of four bifolium sheets, hand-stitched together. According to Franklin, Dickinson bound her poems in this manner only during the years 1858–64. The ‘sets’ refer to bifolium sheets that Dickinson grouped together, but left unbound, as she did up until 1875. 2 Dickinson corresponded with, among many others, her good friend, the poet Helen Hunt Jackson; her mentor, Thomas Wentworth Higginson; and her friend and sister-in-law, Susan Gilbert. 3 When reading through the earliest posthumous print publications of Dickinson’s poetry, Poems by Emily Dickinson edited by Mabel Loomis Todd and Thomas W. Higginson (1890, 1891, 1896), one finds the poetic variants, as well as the fascicle and set groupings, edited out. Thomas H. Johnson’s later comprehensive scholastic edition of Dickinson’s verse, The Poems of Emily Dickinson (1955), includes the variants; however, groupings of poems into fascicles and sets are occluded in favour of a sequential ordering system. For a full listing of all of the editions of Dickinson’s poetry published to date, see R. W. Franklin’s ‘Bibliography’ in The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Variorum Edition (p.1587). 4 Since Franklin’s publication of The Manuscript Books, Dickinson scholarship has seen a flourish surrounding the groupings of the fascicles and sets as well as the material qualities of these selected manuscripts. For example, Sharon Cameron’s study Choosing Not Choosing: Dickinson’s Fascicles (1992) offers a comprehensive critical appreciation of Dickinson’s poetry read in the context of the fascicles. Elsewhere, in his chapter on Dickinson in Black Riders, McGann studies the visual-verbal qualities of Dickinson’s handwriting and page layout, likening her poetic process to Charles Olson’s ‘composition by field’. The poet Susan Howe also alludes to the visual-verbal qualities of Dickinson’s manuscripts in The BirthMark: Unsettling the Wilderness in American Literary History (1993) and in her impassioned My Emily Dickinson (1985), while another critic, Paul Crumbley, has re-examined Dickinson’s trademark use of dashes in Inflections of the Pen: Dash and Voice in Emily Dickinson (1996) to argue that the scripted dashes in fact reveal a variant system









n ot e s to pag e s 66 – 67

of notation indicating inflections of Dickinson’s poetic voice. More recently, Alex Socarides has read Dickinson’s poems in their fascicle context while exploring their material history in ‘Rethinking the Fascicles: Dickinson’s Writing, Copy, and Binding Practices’ (2006) and ‘The Poetics of Interruption: Dickinson, Death, and the Fascicles’ (2008) as well as Dickinson Unbound: Paper, Process, Poetics (2012). Arguably, Franklin’s Manuscript Books were behind this veritable revolution in Dickinson scholarship. 5 Werner describes the content of the archive as consisting of ‘eightytwo documents carrying over one hundred fragmentary texts composed by Dickinson in the final decades of her life’ as well as textual materials such as poems and letters relating to the fragments (‘Woe of Ecstasy’ 29). Radical Scatters was originally published in 1999 by the University of Michigan Press in their Digital Text Series and has since moved to the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2009, where it is site-licensed but available for use by a general readership through various public libraries. Other relevant materials by Werner dealing with Dickinson’s late fragments but not cited in the course of this essay include: ‘Emily Dickinson’s Futures: “Unqualified to Scan”’, ‘Writing’s Other Scene: Crossing and Crossing Out in Emily Dickinson’s Manuscripts’, ‘The Flights of A 821: Dearchivizing the Proceedings of a Birdsong’. 6 In her essay ‘“A Woe of Ecstasy”: On the Electronic Editing of Emily Dickinson’s Late Fragments’, Werner notes the imperative behind the project as follows: ‘Radical Scatters encourages new investigations into both the dynamics of Dickinson’s compositional process and the play of autonomy and intertextuality in her late work … it is an experiment in reading Dickinson by editing her and a case-study in editing Dickinson by reading her’ (30). 7 The Dickinson Archive is highly restricted to the general public. As a consequence, little critical attention has been paid to Dickinson’s later manuscripts. Intrinsic to the uniqueness of my approach to Dickinson’s later manuscript pages is therefore my primary research and access to the manuscript pages in the Dickinson archive. That said, other critics who have engaged with Dickinson’s later manuscript pages in their original include Jeanne Holland’s ‘Scraps, Stamps, and Cut-outs: Emily Dickinson’s Domestic Technologies of Publication’ (1994), which I discuss in this chapter; Melanie Hubbard’s ‘As There Are Apartments: Emily Dickinson’s Manuscripts and Critical Desire at the Scene of Reading’ (2003) as well as ‘Dickinson’s Advertising Flyers: Theorizing Materiality and the Work of Reading’ (1998); and

207



208

n ot e s to pag e s 68 – 74











Sally Bushell’s ‘Meaning in Dickinson’s Manuscripts: Intending the Unintentional’ (2005). The latter of these includes a discussion of A466, which I also discuss in this critical act. Aside from this, there is no crossover between the manuscripts studied by these critics and those with which I engage. 8 De Certeau includes in his exemplars of space that of reading: ‘reading is the space produced by the practice of a particular place: a written text, i.e. a place constituted by a system of signs’ (de Certeau 117). Elsewhere, upon arguing that walking acts out the spatial order of an urban system, he extends this ‘to the relations between the act of writing and the written text’ (de Certeau 98). 9 Such a conception figured prominently in Richard Serra’s now infamous formulation of site-specificity as it appeared in his letter drafted to Donald Thalacker, then Director of the Art-inArchitecture Program of the General Services Administration in Washington DC, in 1985. Responding to the debate surrounding the removal of his sculpture Tilted Arc (1981) from the Federal Plaza in New York City, Serra argued that Tilted Arc was ‘commissioned and designed for one particular site: Federal Plaza. It is a site-specific work and as such not to be relocated. To remove the work is to destroy the work’ (Serra 38). Another critic likewise extending sitespecificity beyond this early conception is Miwon Kwon in One Place After Another: Site-Specific Art and Locational Identity (2002). Like Kaye, Kwon emphasises the performative nature of site-specificity, but less in terms of the artist’s performance of a particular place than in terms of her nomadic itinerary and consequent enactment of an ‘intertextual’ relation between different places or, in Kwon’s terms, ‘one place after another’. 10 See discussion of material context in the Introduction. 11 See Rendell’s Site-Writing: The Architecture of Art Criticism (2010) as well as discussion of ‘site-writing’ in Introduction. 12 For each manuscript, I present the number of the manuscript, the description of it in the Amherst Library Archive (AL), the description of it in Franklin’s Variorum Edition (Fr.) and an image of the recto and verso side of the page. 13 Franklin’s verbal description here refers to all of the manuscripts for the poem ‘A sloop of amber slips away’ including A112, A385/386, A836. As noted, however, Franklin does not include any of the later manuscripts in facsimile. I shall show each of the manuscripts here as images. 14 It is important to stress that I am not suggesting that there can, indeed, ever be such a ‘unified sense of self ’ within the lyric ‘I’.





n ot e s to pag e s 74 – 104

Rather, more in line with Riley, I understand the lyric ‘I’ to be, of necessity, contingent and in flux, yet with a semblance of control in the guise of a formalised ‘I’. Furthermore, such contingency and flux are, to my mind, a result of the ‘I’s ever being in its necessary relation to ‘you’. 15 As I am not studying the physical qualities of the pages of these other drafts in detail, I shall show only the recto of these pages. 16 The line numbers noted here are in keeping with the way that they are broken in the manuscript A386. 17 The numbered lines here relate to the line breaks in ‘A vastest earthly Day’ in Johnson’s edition. 18 Line breaks here are in keeping with the manuscript A403. 19 Line numbers are in keeping with line breaks in manuscript A466. 20 Other critics, too, have studied Dickinson’s ‘elliptical’ strategies and the implications they hold for the reader’s role in making meaning. See Christanne Miller’s Emily Dickinson: A Poet’s Grammar (1987), and particularly her discussion of compression and ellipsis in Dickinson, and Sharon Cameron’s Choosing, Not Choosing (1992).

Chapter 3 1 Quoted in Lawrence Rinder, ‘The Plurality of Entrances, the Opening of Networks, the Infinity of Languages’, in The Dream of the Audience, ed., Constance M. Lewallen (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2001). 2 Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, ‘Passages Paysages’, www.bampfa.berkeley.edu/ collections/bam/texts/cha.html, last accessed 24 March 2003 (link no longer active). 3 I experienced the video installation at Peer Gallery (London, 2005). 4 It therefore constitutes what Butler calls at one point an unknowable ‘bodily referent’, ‘a condition of me that I can point to, but that I cannot narrate precisely’ (Butler 38), and elsewhere an ‘irrecoverable and nonthematic origin of affect [that] cannot be recovered through proper articulation, whether in narrative form or in any other medium of expression’ (Butler 72). 5 Butler writes: ‘If that which I am defies narrative capture, compels speculation, insists itself as an opacity that resists all final illumination, then this seems to be a consequence of my fundamental relation to a “you” – an other who is interiorised in ways for which I can give no account. If I am first addressed and then my address emerges as a consequence, animated by a primary address and bearing the enigma of that address, then I speak to you, but you are also what is opaque in the act of my speaking. Whoever you are, you constitute me

209



210

n ot e s to pag e s 107 – 118













fundamentally and become the name for a primary impressionability for the uncertain boundary between an impression from the outside that I register and some consequent sense of “me” that is the site of that registering. Within this founding scene, the very grammar of the self has not yet taken hold. And so one might say, reflectively, and with a certain sense of humility, that in the beginning I am my relation to you, ambiguously addressed and addressing, given over to a “you” without whom I cannot be and whom I depend on to survive’ (Butler 81). 6 These ‘passages’ correspond with my own division of the artwork through the working drawing. Passages Paysages is not, itself, explicitly divided into sections. 7 When transcribing the vocal incantation of Passages Paysages, I shall present this in italic font. The voiceover was layered in its recording, and I have attempted to mimic this by presenting the words in three columns. Each column contains fragments of my original transcriptions of the voiceover taken during different sittings. 8 When representing text from Passages Paysages shown as images on the screens, I use Courier font as it most closely resembles the typewritten text used by Cha. 9 Sic. 10 This article appears in Cha’s edited collection of film theory, Apparatus. Quoting Metz in full: ‘The superimposition characteristically affects a sort of equivalence between two distinct objects,’ while the lap dissolve ‘is a superimposition drawn further in the direction of consecutive order (in that one image ends up replacing the other), the primary equivalence of the two motifs includes a bit less condensation and a bit more displacement’ (Metz 392). 11 Silverman substantiates this with quotations from Bélas Balázs’ Theory of Film: Character and Growth of a New Art (1970), Christian Metz’s ‘Aural Objects’ (1980) and Jean-Louis Baudry’s ‘Ideological Effects of the Basic Cinematographic Apparatus’ (1974/75). The quote from Baudry can also be found in the article ‘The Apparatus’ as found in Cha’s edited collection Apparatus. 12 Drawing from Alan Williams and Tom Levin, Silverman writes: ‘since every acoustic event is inseparable from the space within which it occurs, it is difficult for any two sounds ever to be exactly the same’ (Silverman, Acoustic 42). Silverman is here referring to Alan Williams’ ‘Is Sound Recording Like a Language?’ (1980) and Tom Levin’s ‘The Acoustic Dimension: Notes on Cinema Sound’ (1984).



n ot e s to pag e s 121 – 136



13 This font is meant to represent where, in Letraset on my working drawing (and integrated into ‘Passage’ 4), I have transcribed what I recall of the words scripted on the screen in Passages Paysages. 14 Gilles Deleuze writes in Cinema 1: The Movement Image (1983) that the ‘affection-image is the close-up, and the close-up is the face… Eisenstein suggested that the close-up was not merely one type of image among others, but gave an affective reading of the whole film. This is true of the affection-image: it is both a type of image and a component of all images’ (Deleuze 87). 15 This italicised black font represents Cha’s writing on the manuscript.





Chapter 4 1 Templeton writes in ‘Notes on Making Cells of Release’ (1996), a description of the project printed at the end of the book Cells of Release: ‘By now many of the cases I identified the cells with while writing have been replaced, as I followed the Amnesty system of reflecting the evercurrent nature of the problem, trying to circulate as many cases into the installation as possible, for public intervention’ (Templeton, ‘Notes’ n. pag.). (NB ‘Notes on Making Cells of Release’ is printed in italic font in the book, so quotes taken will be presented here in italics.) 2 I also gleaned second-hand experience of the artwork through an interview I held with Templeton in November 2004 to discuss Cells of Release. 3 This allowed me to better appreciate the moment in our interview where Templeton describes the line in Cells of Release using the following analogy: ‘imagine walking through a landscape and you don’t know what it looks like – or what where you’re going looks like. As you go along you see all sorts of other things that don’t have anything to do with where you’re going. You can also look backwards. But then, when you go a little further and you look backwards, behind you looks different too. And then you finally get to where you were going. But not only is the movement – the actual shape of the trajectory – meaningful, so also are all the possibilities that arose as part of being in the process of the trajectory: all the changes of line and the things that appeared and disappeared’ (Kreider, ‘Interview’ n. pag.). 4 Foucault writes: ‘Each individual, in his place, is securely confined to a cell from which he is seen from the front by the supervisor; but the side walls prevent him from coming into contact with his companion. He is seen, but he does not see; he is the object of information, never a subject in communication. The arrangement of his room, opposite the central tower, imposes on him an axial visibility; but the divisions

211



212

n ot e s to pag e s 142 – 151





of the ring, those separated cells, imply a lateral invisibility. And this invisibility is a guarantee of order…The crowd, a compact mass, a locus of multiples exchanges, individualities merging together, a collective effect, is abolished and replaced by a collection of separated individualities. From the point of view of the guardian, it is replaced by a multiplicity that can be numbered and supervised; from the point of view of inmates, by a sequestered and observed solitude’ (Foucault 200–1). 5 For clarification, when quoting the poem I shall accompany this with a parenthetical citation indicating where in the book documentation for Cells of Release this is found; for example, (cell 8, 46) indicates line 46 on the page in the book corresponding to cell 8 in the Eastern State Penitentiary. When the line is from one of the corridor spaces, I refer to the cell directly preceding the corridor space and the line number in the corridor. So, for example, (cell 8; corridor, 47) indicates line 47 on the page in the book corresponding to the corridor space directly after cell 8. 6 In ‘Notes on the Index, Part 2’ (1985), Rosalind Krauss argues that the trace has the paradox of being ‘physically present but temporally remote’ (Krauss, ‘Notes’ 217). 7 Olson alludes to this process when suggesting that the two main formal components of ‘projective verse’ are the syllable and the line: Let me put it baldly. The two halves are:

the HEAD, by way of the EAR, to the SYLLABLE the HEART, by way of the BREATH, to the LINE (Olson 19) Olson’s language here is physical and corporeal, emphasising the role of the poet’s body. I am, however, impelled to read these lines metaphorically. HEAD implies concept (the head is the place wherein thought is embodied), EAR implies sound (the ear is that part of our body that is attuned to sound) and SYLLABLE implies language (the syllable is a structural component of words broken down into units of speech). Thought, generated through perception, is embodied in the mind (HEAD) and, informed by language, heard as speech (EAR). These thoughts are represented and materialised in a poem through composing the heard language, or speech, into words (SYLLABLES). In terms of the second claim, the word HEART implies desire, BREATH is an index of the living body, and LINE is the fundamental formal or structural element of a poem for Olson. Olson suggests that a poet’s HEART (desire or aspiration) is intrinsic to the body and becomes incarnate within poetic form when such form is generated through the rhythm of





n ot e s to pag e s 154 – 181

the LINE as it is generated by the BREATH (or inspiration) of the body of the poet. 8 Templeton mentions Scarry’s book on the publication page of Cells of Release, citing it as the means whereby she first became interested in Amnesty International. She also mentioned it in our interview as an influence on her project overall.

Chapter 5 1 I thank the artist, Jenny Holzer, and her assistant, Mindy McDonald, for lending me a copy of the issue of Süddeutsche Zeitung containing Lustmord for the purposes of writing this chapter. 2 Writing in a footnote herself, Deutsche cites other references to discussions of the critical image in her essays ‘Boys Town’ and ‘Agoraphobia’ from the book Evictions: Art and Spatial Politics (1996) as well as Craig Owens’ ‘The Discourse of Others: Feminists and Postmodernism’. 3 I shall use ‘explicit’ when the sign ‘I’ appears in the statement and ‘implicit’ to refer to instances where we understand the statement as ‘spoken’ by ‘I’, although the word, itself, does not appear. 4 Throughout this chapter, when I refer to a line that is printed in German in the magazine I shall provide an English translation of the Lustmord text taken from this collection of Holzer’s writing. 5 Interestingly, a critique of the centric, speaking ‘I’ is one that has run for some decades within experimental poetry, particularly manifest in the poetry and poetics of experimental and innovative women poets. And while Holzer’s work is not often considered in this vein, her writing being more pragmatic than experimental, one can nonetheless consider the poetics of the Lustmord text in terms of this critique. 6 This includes: third-person subject pronoun ‘she’ (Perpetrator pp.13, 23, 25, 27; Observer p.13); third-person direct object pronoun ‘her’ (Perpetrator pp.4, 23, 25; Observer p.12); third-person indirect object pronoun ‘her’ (Observer p.17); third-person pronoun ‘her’ as a possessive adjective (Perpetrator pp.4, 13, 14, 18; Observer pp.12, 17, 26, 30); and third-person pronoun ‘her’ as the object of a preposition (Perpetrator pp.25, 27; Observer pp.16, 17, 28). 7 The negative response to Lustmord is included in the book documentation of Lustmord (1996). 8 Please see the Introduction for a discussion of Jane Rendell’s notion of ‘critical spatial practice’. This is fully outlined in Rendell’s Art and Architecture: A Place Between (2006) where she draws from de Certeau’s notion of spatial practice to argue that ‘in “practising” specific places certain artworks produce critical spaces’ (Rendell, Art 19).

213



214

n ot e s to pag e s 186 – 195





9 Benveniste writes: ‘What must be considered distinct of the “thirdperson” is its property of (1) combining with any object reference, (2) never being reflective of the instance of discourse, (3) admitting of a sometimes large number of pronominal or demonstrative variants, and (4) not being compatible with the paradigm of referential terms like here, now, etc.’ (Benveniste, ‘Pronouns’ 222). This analysis leads Benveniste to conclude that the difference between the third-person pronouns ‘he’, ‘she’ and ‘it’, and the first and second person pronouns ‘I’ and ‘you’ indicates that they are of an ‘entirely different nature’, a difference that points to an even more general distinction between ‘on the one hand, language as a repertory of signs and a system for combining them and, on the other, language as an activity manifested in instances of discourse which are characterised as such by particular signs’ (Benveniste, ‘Pronouns’ 222).

Conclusion 1 The exhibition curated by Adam Budak and accompanying book entitled Human Condition: Empathy and Emancipation in Precarious Times (2010) is a recent, and important, example of the interest in empathy within contemporary politically engaged practices of art in particular. Excerpts from Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition site alongside those from Judith Butler’s Precarious Lives to provide a theoretical framework for the work by artists including Lida Abdul, Marcel Dzama, Maria Lassnig, Mark Manders, Renzo Martens, Kris Martin, Adrian Paci and Susan Philipsz exploring structures of address, responsibility and moral agency. 2 This essay can be found in a special edition of The Southern Journal of Philosophy (Volume 49, Spindel Supplement, 2011). However, Coplan is also the editor along with Peter Goldie of a recent collection of essays on empathy from the perspective of multiple disciplines entitled Empathy: Philosophical and Psychological Perspectives (2011).

Bibliography Arendt, Hannah. The Human Condition. 2nd ed. 1958. Introd. Margaret Canovan. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998. (Abbreviated as Human in parenthetical citations.) —. The Life of the Mind. 1971. New York: Harvest-Harcourt, 1977. (Abbreviated as Life in parenthetical citations.) Bachelard, Gaston. The Poetics of Space. 1958. Trans. Maria Jolas. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1994. Bal, Mieke. Louise Bourgeois’ Spider: The Architecture of Art-Writing. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2001. Balázs, Bélas. Theory of Film: Character and Growth of a New Art. New York: Dover, 1970. Barthes, Roland. 1980. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. Trans. Richard Howard. London: Vintage, 2000. (Abbreviated as Camera in parenthetical citations.) —. Critical Essays. 1964. Trans. Richard Howard. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1972. (Abbreviated as Critical in parenthetical citations.) —. ‘Cy Twombly: Works on Paper.’ 1979. The Responsibility of Forms: Critical Essays on Music, Art, and Representation. Trans. Richard Howard. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1985. (Abbreviated as ‘Cy’ in parenthetical citations.) —. ‘The Grain of the Voice.’ 1972. Image Music Text. Ed. and trans. Stephen Heath. London: Fontana Press, 1977. 179–89. (Abbreviated as ‘Grain’ in parenthetical citations.) —. ‘The Photographic Message.’ 1961. The Responsibility of Forms: Critical Essays on Music, Art, and Representation. Trans. Richard Howard. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1985. 3–20. (Abbreviated as ‘Photographic’ in parenthetical citations.) —. ‘Rhetoric of the Image.’ 1964. The Responsibility of Forms: Critical Essays on Music, Art, and Representation. Trans. Richard Howard. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1985. 20–40. (Abbreviated as ‘Rhetoric’ in parenthetical citations.) —. ‘Upon Leaving the Movie Theater.’ 1979. Trans. Bertrand Augst and Susan White. Apparatus. Ed. Theresa Hak Kyung Cha. New York:

215



216

p o e tics a n d p lac e

Tanam Press, 1981. 1–6. (Abbreviated as ‘Upon’ in parenthetical citations.) —. ‘What is Criticism?’ Critical Essays. (1964) Trans. Richard Howard. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1972. 255–60. Baudry, Jean-Louis. ‘The Apparatus.’ 1976. Trans. Jean Andres and Bertrand Augst. Apparatus. Ed. Theresa Hak Kyung Cha. New York: Tanam Press, 1981. 41–66. —. ‘Ideological Effects of the Basic Cinematographic Apparatus.’ Trans. Alan Williams. Film Quarterly 28:2 (1974/75): 39–47. Beaumont, Jeanne Marie and Anna Rabinowitz, eds. Elliptical Poets: New School or New Spin? Spec. issue of American Letters and Commentary 11 (1999): 1–146. Benveniste, Émile. ‘Language in Freudian Theory.’ 1956. Problems in General Linguistics. Trans. Mary Elizabeth Meek. Coral Gables, FL: University of Miami Press, 1971. 65–75. (Abbreviated as ‘Freudian’ in parenthetical citations.) —. ‘A Look at the Development of the Linguistic Sign.’ 1962. Problems in General Linguistics. Trans. Mary Elizabeth Meek. Coral Gables, FL: University of Miami Press, 1971. 17–28. (Abbreviated as ‘Look’ in parenthetical citations.) —. ‘The Nature of the Linguistic Sign.’ 1939. Problems in General Linguistics. Trans. Mary Elizabeth Meek. Coral Gables, FL: University of Miami Press, 1971. 43–48. (Abbreviated as ‘Nature of Sign’ in parenthetical citations.) —. ‘The Nature of Pronouns.’ 1956. Problems in General Linguistics. Trans. Mary Elizabeth Meek. Coral Gables, FL: University of Miami Press, 1971. 217–22. (Abbreviated as ‘Pronouns’ in parenthetical citations.) —. ‘Recent Trends in General Linguistics.’ 1954. Problems in General Linguistics. Trans. Mary Elizabeth Meek. Coral Gables, FL: University of Miami Press, 1971. 3–16. (Abbreviated as ‘Recent’ in parenthetical citations.) —. ‘Saussure After Half a Century.’ 1963. Problems in General Linguistics. Trans. Mary Elizabeth Meek. Coral Gables, FL: University of Miami Press, 1971. 29–42. (Abbreviated as ‘Saussure’ in parenthetical citations.) —. ‘Subjectivity in Language.’ 1958. Problems in General Linguistics. Trans. Mary Elizabeth Meek. Coral Gables, FL: University of Miami Press, 1971. 223–30. (Abbreviated as ‘Subjectivity’ in parenthetical citations.) Bernstein, Charles. A Poetics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992. Bernstein, Charles and Bruce Andrews, eds. The L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Book. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1984.

bibli o g r a p h y

Blau DuPlessis, Rachel. The Pink Guitar: Writing as Feminist Practice. London: Routledge, 1990. Bradford, Richard. Roman Jakobson: Life, Language, Art. London: Routledge, 1994. Brogan, T.V.F. ‘Quatrain.’ The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. Ed. Alex Preminger and T.V.F. Brogan. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993. 1011. Budak, Adam, ed. Human Condition: Empathy and Emancipation in Precarious Times. Cologne: Walther König, 2010. Bühler, Karl. Sprachteorie. Jena: Fischer, 1934. Burgin, Victor. ‘Re-Reading Camera Lucida.’ The End of Art Theory: Criticism and Postmodernity. Hampshire: Palgrave, 1986. 71–95. Burks, Arthur W. ‘Icon, Index, and Symbol.’ Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 9.4 (1949): 673–89. Bushell, Sally. ‘Meaning in Emily Dickinson’s Manuscripts: Intending the Unintentional.’ The Emily Dickinson Journal 14.1 (2005): 24–61. Butler, Judith. Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable? London: Verso, 2010. —. Giving an Account of Oneself. New York: Fordham University Press, 2005. (Abbreviated as Giving in parenthetical citations.) —. Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence. London: Verso, 2004. (Abbreviated as Precarious in parenthetical citations.) Cameron, Sharon. Choosing, Not Choosing: Dickinson’s Fascicles. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992. —. Lyric Time: Dickinson and the Limits of Genre. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979. Cavarero, Adriana. Relating Narratives: Storytelling and Selfhood. 1997. Trans. Paul A. Kottman. London: Routledge, 2000. Caws, Mary Ann. Surrealist Painters and Poets: An Anthology. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002. De Certeau, Michel. The Practice of Everyday Life. 1974. Trans. Steven Rendell. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1984. Cha, Theresa Hak Kyung, ed. Apparatus. 1979. New York: Tanam Press, 1981. —. ‘Artist’s Statement.’ Theresa Hak Kyung Cha Archive at the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, University of California. 2003. University of California. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu/collections/bam/ texts/cha.html. Last accessed: 24 March 2003 (link no longer active). (Abbreviated as ‘Artist’s’ in parenthetical citations.) —. Dictee. 1982. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2001. —. Passages Paysages. 1978. Manuscript. Der Traum des Publikums/The Dream of the Audience. Ed. Constance M. Lewallen and Sabine Breitwieser. Wien: Generali Foundation, 2004. 198.

217



218

p o e tics a n d p lac e

—. Passages Paysages. 1978. Video Installation. Peer Gallery, London. December 2005. —. Passages Paysages. 1978. Videostills. Der Traum des Publikums/The Dream of the Audience. Ed. Constance M. Lewallen and Sabine Breitwieser. Wien: Generali Foundation, 2004. 199–201. —. ‘Passages Paysages.’ Theresa Hak Kyung Cha Archive at the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, University of California. 2003. University of California. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu/collections/bam/ texts/cha.html. Last accessed: 24 March 2003 (link no longer active). (Abbreviated as ‘Passages’ in parenthetical citations.) Clément, Catherine. Syncope: The Philosophy of Rapture. 1990. Trans. Sally O’Driscoll and Deirdre M. Mahoney. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1994. Coplan, Amy. ‘Empathic Engagement with Narrative Fictions.’ The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 62:2 (2004): 141–52. —. ‘Will the Real Empathy Please Stand Up? A Case for a Narrow Conceptualization.’ The Southern Journal of Philosophy 49: Spindel Supplement (2011): 40–65. Coplan, Amy and Peter Goldie. Empathy: Philosophical and Psychological Perspectives. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. Damisch, Hubert. A Theory of /Cloud/: Toward a History of Painting. 1972. Trans. Janet Lloyd. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2002. Danly, Susan, ed. Language as Object: Emily Dickinson and Contemporary Art. Amherst, MA: Mead Art Museum and Amherst College in association with University of Massachusetts Press, 1997. Davidson, Michael. Ghostlier Demarcations: Modern Poetry and the Material Word. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1997. Deleuze, Gilles. Cinema 1: The Movement Image. (1983) Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam. London: The Athlone Press, 1992. Derrida, Jacques. Of Grammatology. (1974) Trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998. —. Writing and Difference. (1967) Trans. Alan Bass. London and New York: Routledge, 1978. Deutsche, Rosalyn. ‘Agoraphobia.’ Evictions: Art and Spatial Politics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996. 269–327. —. ‘Boys Town.’ Evictions: Art and Spatial Politics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996. 203–44. —. Hiroshima After Iraq: Three Studies in Art and War. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010. Dickinson, Emily. ‘The lassitudes of contemplation.’ Ms. A403. Emily Dickinson Archive, Amherst College, Amherst, MA.

bibli o g r a p h y

—. ‘A sloop of amber slips away.’ Ms. A112, A385/386, A836. Emily Dickinson Archive, Amherst College, Amherst, MA. —. ‘These are the nights that beetles love.’ Ms. 466/466a. Emily Dickinson Archive, Amherst College, Amherst, MA. —. ‘’Twas later when the summer went.’ Ms. 499. Emily Dickinson Archive, Amherst College, Amherst, MA. —. ‘The vastest earthly Day.’ Ms. A449. Emily Dickinson Archive, Amherst College, Amherst, MA. Dolar, Mladen. A Voice and Nothing More. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006. Drozdiak, William. ‘Serbs Raped 20,000, EC Team Says: Assaults in Bosnia Part of “Cleansing”.’ Washington Post, 9 January 1993. Drucker, Johanna. ‘The Art of the Written Image.’ Figuring the Word: Essays on Books, Writing and Visual Poetics. New York: Granary Books, 1998. 57–75. —. The Century of Artists’ Books. (1995) 2nd Edition. New York: Granary Books, 2004. —. The Visible Word: Experimental Typography and Modern Art, 1909–1923 (1994). Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997. Eberwein, Jane Donahue. Dickinson: Strategies of Limitation. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1985. Eco, Umberto. The Role of the Reader: Explorations in the Semiotics of Texts. London: Hutchinson, 1979. Elsaesser, Thomas. ‘Postmodernism as Mourning Work.’ Screen 42:2 (2001): 193–201. Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. 1975. Trans. Alan Sheridan. New York: Vintage Books, 1979. Frank, Robert and Henry Sayre, eds. The Line in Postmodern Poetry. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1988. Franklin, R.W. Introduction. The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Variorum Edition. By Emily Dickinson. Ed. Franklin. 3 vols. Cambridge, MA: Belknap-Harvard University Press, 1998. 1–48. —, ed. The Manuscript Books of Emily Dickinson. By Emily Dickinson. 2 vols. Cambridge, MA: Belknap-Harvard University Press, 1981. —, ed. The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Variorum Edition. 3 vols. Cambridge, MA: Belknap-Harvard University Press, 1998. Fraser, Kathleen. Feminist Poetics: A Consideration of the Female Contraction of Language. San Francisco: San Francisco State University Press, 1984. —. ‘Translating the Unspeakable: Visual Poetics, as Projected through Olson’s ‘Field’ into Current Female Writing Practices.’ Moving Borders: Three Decades of Innovative Writing by Women. Ed. Mary Margaret Sloan. Jersey City, NJ: Talisman Publishers, 1988. 642–55.

219



220

p o e tics a n d p lac e

Freeman, Judi. The Dada and Surrealist Word-Image. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1989. Freud, Sigmund. The Interpretation of Dreams. 1900. Trans. James Strachey in collaboration with Anna Freud assisted by Alix Strachey and Alan Tyson. Vol.4 of The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. 24 vols. 1886–1939. 1953. London: Hogarth Press; London: Vintage-Random House, 2001. Fuss, Diana. The Sense of an Interior: Four Writers and the Rooms That Shaped Them. London: Routledge, 2004. Grosz, Elizabeth. Architecture from the Outside: Essays on Virtual and Real Space. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002. —. Space, Time and Perversions: Essays on the Politics of Bodies. London and New York: Routledge, 1995. —. Volatile Bodies: Toward a Corporeal Feminism. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1994. Hayles, Katherine N. Writing Machines. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002. Hegel, G.W.F. The Encyclopaedia Logic. 1817. Trans. T.F. Geraets, W.A. Suchting, and H.S. Harris. Part 1 of Encyclopaedia of Philosophical Sciences. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 1991. Hejinian, Lyn. ‘The Rejection of Closure.’ The Language of Inquiry. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2000. 40–58. Holland, Jeanne. ‘Scraps, Stamps, and Cutouts: Emily Dickinson’s Domestic Technologies of Publication.’ Cultural Artifacts and the Production of Meaning: The Page, the Image, and the Body. Ed. Margaret J.M. Ezell and Katherine O’Brien O’Keefe. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1994. 139–81. Holzer, Jenny. Interview with Christian Kämmerling. 1993. Jenny Holzer: Lustmord. Ed. Beatrix Ruf and Mark Landert. Thurgau: Kunstmuseum des Kantons Thurgau, 1996. 121–25. (Abbreviated as ‘Interview with Kämmerling’ in parenthetical citations.) —. Interview with Joan Simon. Jenny Holzer. Eds David Joselit, Joan Simon and Renata Salecl. London: Phaidon, 1998. 8–39. —. Lustmord. Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin. 46 (1993): 1–30. —. ‘Lustmord.’ Jenny Holzer: Writing/Schriften. Ed. Noemi Smolik. Ostfildern-Ruit: Cantz Verlag, 1996. 50–63. —. ‘Wordsmith: An Interview with Jenny Holzer by Bruce Ferguson.’ Jenny Holzer: Signs. London: ICA, 1988. 73–85. Horn, Roni. Interview with Hannelore Kerstin. Things Which Happen Again. Catalogue. Mönchengladbach and Münster: Städtisches Museum Abteiberg and Westfälischer Kunstverein, 1991. N. pag. (Abbreviated as ‘Interview with Kerstin’ in parenthetical citations.)

bibli o g r a p h y

—. ‘Lynne Cooke in conversation with Roni Horn.’ Roni Horn. Eds Louise Neri, Lynne Cooke and Thierry de Duve. London: Phaidon, 2000. 8–27. (Abbreviated as ‘Cooke’ in parenthetical citations.) —. Pair Object III: For Two Rooms. 1988. Galerie Lelong, New York City. Things Which Happen Again. Catalogue. Mönchengladbach and Münster: Städtisches Museum Abteiberg and Westfälischer Kunstverein, 1991. N. pag. —. Pair Object V: For Things Which Are Near. 1988. The Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan. Things Which Happen Again. Catalogue. Mönchengladbach and Münster: Städtisches Museum Abteiberg and Westfälischer Kunstverein, 1991. N. pag. —. Pair Object VII: For A Here And A There. 1988. Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas. Things Which Happen Again. Catalogue. Mönchengladbach and Münster: Städtisches Museum Abteiberg and Westfälischer Kunstverein, 1991. N. pag. —. Pair Object VIII: For A This And A That. 1991. Städtisches Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach. Things Which Happen Again. Catalogue. Mönchengladbach and Münster: Städtisches Museum Abteiberg and Westfälischer Kunstverein, 1991. N. pag. —. Things Which Happen Again. Catalogue. Mönchengladbach and Münster: Städtisches Museum Abteiberg and Westfälischer Kunstverein, 1991. N. pag. —. Things Which Happen Again. Sculptural Installation. Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas; The Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan; Galerie Lelong, New York City; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angelas; Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt; Städtisches Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach; Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster. Howe, Susan. The Birth-Mark: Unsettling the Wilderness in American Literary History. Hanover: Wesleyan University Press, 1993. (Abbreviated as Birth in parenthetical citations.) ­—. My Emily Dickinson. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 1985. (Abbreviated as ‘My Emily’ in parenthetical citations.) Hubbard, Melanie. ‘As There Are Apartments: Emily Dickinson’s Manuscripts and Critical Desire at the Scene of Reading.’ Emily Dickinson Journal 12.1 (2003): 53–75. —. ‘Dickinson’s Advertising Flyers: Theorizing Materiality and the Work of Reading.’ Emily Dickinson Journal 7.1 (1998): 27–54. Jakobson, Roman. ‘Closing Statement: Linguistics and Poetics.’ 1958. Style in Language. Ed. Thomas A. Sebeok. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1960. 350–77. (Abbreviated as ‘Closing’ in parenthetical citations.) —. ‘Shifters, Verbal Categories, and the Russian Verb.’ 1957. Roman Jakobson Selected Writings, vol.2: Word and Language. Ed. Stephen Rudy.

221



222

p o e tics a n d p lac e

Paris: Mouton, 1971. 130–47. (Abbreviated as ‘Shifters’ in parenthetical citations.) —. ‘Two Aspects of Language and Two Types of Aphasic Disturbances’. 1956. Fundamentals of Language. By Jakobson and Morris Halle. The Hague: Mouton, 1956. 67–96. Jesperson, Otto. Language: Its Nature, Development and Origin. Allen and Unwin: London, 1922. Johnson, James. ‘Lyric.’ The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. Ed. Alex Preminger and T.V.F. Brogan. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993. 713–26. Johnson, Thomas H., ed. The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson. By Emily Dickinson. Boston, MA: Little Brown, 1960. —. ed. The Letters of Emily Dickinson. By Emily Dickinson. 3 vols. Cambridge, MA: Belknap-Harvard University Press, 1951. Johnson, W.R. The Idea of Lyric: Lyric Modes in Ancient and Modern Poetry. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1982. Judd, Donald. ‘Specific Objects.’ 1965. Art in Theory: 1900–1990: An Anthology of Changing Ideas. Eds Charles Harrison and Paul Wood. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1992. 809–13. Kaye, Nick. Site-Specific Art: Performance, Place and Documentation. London: Routledge, 2000. Kennedy, David and Keith Tuma. Additional Apparitions: Poetry, Performance and Site-Specificity. Sheffield: Cherry on the Top Press, 2002. Killian, Kevin. The Kenning Anthology of Poets’ Theatre: 1945–1985. Berkeley, CA: Kenning Editions, 2010. Krauss, Rosalind. ‘Notes on the Index: Part 1 and 2.’ The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1985. 196–220. Kreider, Kristen. ‘Material Poetics and the Re-configuration of (Textual) Desire in Dickinson, Loy and Hillman.’ MA thesis, Arizona State University, 1999. Kristeva, Julia. La Révolution du langage poétique. Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1974. —. Semiotiké: Recherches pour une sémanalyse. Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1969. Kwon, Miwon. One Place After Another: Site-Specific Art and Locational Identity. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002. Lacan, Jacques. ‘Fontion et champ de la parole et du langage en psychanalyse.’ Congrès de Rome, La Psychanalyse, 1956 and Écrits (with Du Sujet), Paris: Seuil, 1966. 81–166. Laplanche, Jean. Essays on Otherness. Ed. John Fletcher. London: Routledge, 1999.

bibli o g r a p h y

Levertov, Denise. ‘On the Function of the Line.’ Ed. Donald Hall. Claims for Poetry. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1982. 65–72. Levin, Tom. ‘The Acoustic Dimension: Notes on Cinema Sound.’ Screen 25:3 (1984): 55–68. Levinas, Emmanuel. Ethics and Infinity: Conversations with Philippe Nemo. (1982) Trans. Richard A. Cohen. Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press, 1985. —. Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority. (1961) Trans. Alphonso Lingis. Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press, 1969. Lewallen, Constance M. ‘Theresa Hak Kyung Cha-Her Time and Place.’ Der Traum des Publikums/The Dream of the Audience. Ed. Constance M. Lewallen and Sabine Breitwieser. Wien: Generali Foundation, 2004. 223–31. Lunt, Horace G., Hugh McLean, and Cornelis H. van Schooneveld, eds. For Roman Jakobson. The Hague: Morris Halle, 1956. Marks, Laura. ‘Video Haptics and Erotics.’ Screen 39:4 (1988): 331–47. Mazowiecki, Tadeusz. Bosnia-Herzegovina, Rape and Sexual Abuse by Armed Forces. 1993. Amnesty International. http://web.amnesty.org/ library/eng-bih/reports&start=61. Last accessed: 10 January 2007 (link no longer active). McGann, Jerome. Black Riders: The Visible Language of Modernism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993. Meskimmon, Marsha. Engendering the City: Women Artists and Urban Space. London: Scarlet Press, 1997. —. ‘Practice as Thinking: Toward Feminist Aesthetics.’ Breaking the Disciplines: Reconceptions in Knowledge, Art and Culture. Eds Martin L. Davies and Marsha Meskimmon. London: I.B.Tauris, 2003. 223–45. —. ‘The Word and the Flesh: Text/Image Re-made.’ Women Marking Art: History, Subjectivity, Aesthetics. London and New York: Routledge, 2003. 151–67. Messerli, Douglas, ed. From the Other Side of the Century: New American Poetry 1960–1990. Los Angeles: Sun and Moon Press, 2000. Metz, Christian. ‘Aural Objects.’ Yale French Studies 60 (1980): 24–32. —. ‘The Fiction Film and Its Spectator: A Metapsychological Study.’ 1976. Apparatus. Ed. Theresa Hak Kyung Cha. New York: Tanam Press, 1981. 373–414. Miller, Christanne. Emily Dickinson: A Poet’s Grammar. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987. Morris, Adalaide. Sound States: Innovative Poetics and Acoustical Technologies. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1997. Morris, Charles. Foundations of the Theory of Signs. Vol.1 of The International Encyclopedia of Unified Science. Eds Otto Neurath, Rudolf Carnap and

223



224

p o e tics a n d p lac e

Charles Morris. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1938. 2 vols. 1938–52. Morris, Robert. ‘Notes on Sculpture 1–3.’ 1966. Art in Theory: 1900–1990: An Anthology of Changing Ideas. Eds Charles Harrison and Paul Wood. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1992. 813–22. Morris, Sharon. ‘Shifting Eyes: Self-Representation in Words and Images, Re-Reading Freud through the Semiotics of C.S. Peirce, with Particular Reference to the Works of Poet H.D. and Artist Claude Cahun.’ Diss., University of London, 2000. Motherwell, Robert, ed. Dada Painters and Poets: An Anthology. (1954) 2nd Edition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989. Nancy, Jean-Luc. ‘Vox Clamans in Deserto.’ 1986. The Birth to Presence. Trans. Brian Holmes and others. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1993. 234–47. Nizich, Ivana. War Crimes in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Vol.1 of A Helsinki Watch Report. New York: Human Rights Watch, 1992. Olson, Charles. Maximus Poems. 1960. Ed. George F. Butterick. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1983. —. ‘Projective Verse.’ Selected Writings of Charles Olson. Ed. Robert Creeley. New York: New Directions, 1950. 15–31. O’Sullivan, Maggie, ed. Out of Everywhere: Linguistically Innovative Poetry by Women in North America and the UK. London: Reality Street Editions, 1996. Owens, Craig. ‘The Discourse of Others: Feminists and Postmodernism.’ Beyond Recognition: Representation, Power, and Culture. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1992. 166–90. Parkes, M.B. Pause and Effect: An Introduction to the History of Punctuation in the West. Aldershot: Scholar Press, 1992. Peirce, C.S. ‘Of Reasoning in General.’ Ms. c. 1895. The Essential Peirce: Selected Philosophical Writings, vol.2. Eds Nathan Houser and Christian Kloesel. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1992. 11–27. (Abbreviated as ‘Reasoning’ in parenthetical citations.) —. ‘What is a Sign?’ Ms. c. 1894. The Essential Peirce: Selected Philosophical Writings, vol.2. Eds Nathan Houser and Christian Kloesel. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1992. 4–11. (Abbreviated as ‘What?’ in parenthetical citations.) Perloff, Marjorie. 21st-Century Modernism: The ‘New’ Poetics. London: Blackwell, 2002. —. ‘Language Poetry and the Lyric Subject: Ron Silliman’s Albany, Susan Howe’s Buffalo.’ Critical Inquiry 25:3 (1999): 405–34. —. Poetic License: Essays on Modernist and Postmodernist Lyric. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1990.

bibli o g r a p h y

—. Poetry On and Off the Page: Essays for Emergent Occasions. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1998. —. ‘Postmodernism and the Impasse of the Lyric.’ Formations 1 (1984): 43–63. —. Radical Artifice: Writing Poetry In the Age of Media. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991. Plato. The Republic. Book VII. Trans. Benjamin Jowett. New York: P.F. Collier & Son, 1901. Pollock, Della. ‘Performing Writing.’ The Ends of Performance. Eds Peggy Phelan and Jill Lane. New York: New York University Press, 1998. 73–103. Rankine, Claudine and Juliana Spahr, eds. American Women Poets in the 21st Century: Where Language Meets Lyric. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2002. Rasula, Jed and Steve McCaffrey, eds. Imagining Language: An Anthology. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001. Ray, Paul. ‘On Fragments and Fragmentation.’ Western Humanities Review 34 (1980): 223–32. Rendell, Jane. Art and Architecture: A Place Between. London: I.B.Tauris, 2006. —. Site-Writing: The Architecture of Art Criticism. London: I.B.Tauris, 2010. Riegl, Alois. Late Roman Art Industry. 1927. Trans. Rolf Winkes. Rome: Giorgio Bretschneider Editore, 1985. Riley, Denise. Lyric Selves: Identification, Solidarity, Irony. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2000. Rinder, Lawrence. ‘The Plurality of Entrances, the Opening of Networks, the Infinity of Languages.’ The Dream of the Audience. Ed. Constance M. Lewallen. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2001. 5–32. Ruf, Beatrix. ‘Tautological Revelations-Linguistic Monuments-Trojan Horses.’ Jenny Holzer: Lustmord. Ed. Beatrix Ruf and Mark Landert. Thurgau: Kunstmuseum des Kantons Thurgau, 1996. 107–14. St John, David and Cole Swenson, eds. American Hybrid: Where Language Meets Lyric. New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 2009. De Saussure, Ferdinand. Course in General Linguistics. 1915. Ed. Charles Bally and Albert Sechehaye with Albert Riedlinger. Trans. Wade Baskin. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1966. Sayre, Henry. The Object of Performance: The American Avant-Garde Since 1970 (1989). Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989. Scarry, Elaine. The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985. Selby, Aimee, ed. Art and Text. London: Black Dog Publishing, 2009. Serra, Richard. ‘Letter to Donald Thalacker, 1 January 1985.’ The Destruction of Tilted Arc: Documents. Eds Clara Weyergraf-Serra and Martha Buskirk. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1991. 38

225



226

p o e tics a n d p lac e

Silliman, Ron. The New Sentence. New York: Roof Books, 1977. —. ‘Terms of Enjambment.’ The Line in Postmodern Poetry. Ed. Robert Frank and Henry Sayre. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1988. 177–78. Silverman, Kaja. The Acoustic Mirror: The Female Voice in Psychoanalysis and Cinema. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1988. —. The Subject of Semiotics. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1983. Sloan, Mary Margaret. Introduction. Moving Borders: Three Decades of Innovative Writing by Women. Ed. Sloan. Jersey City, NJ: Talisman House Publishers, 1998. 3–9. Smith, Martha Nell. Rowing in Eden: Rereading Emily Dickinson. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1992. Sobchack, Vivian. The Address of the Eye: A Phenomenology of Film Experience. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992. Steiner, George. ‘Silence and the Poet.’ Language and Silence: Essays 1958– 1966. Penguin Books, 1969. 57–76. Templeton, Fiona. Cells of Release. Performance and Art Installation. Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia. 2 April–17 May 1995. —. Cells of Release: Installation in Collaboration with Amnesty International for Prison Sentences with Photographs by Bill Jacobson. New York: Roof Books, 1997. —. ‘Notes on Making Cells of Release.’ 1996. Cells of Release. New York: Roof Books, 1997. —. Personal Interview with Kristen Kreider. 24 November 2004. Todd, Mabel Loomis and T.W. Higginson, eds. Poems by Emily Dickinson. By Emily Dickinson. Boston, MA: Roberts Brothers, 1890. 1891. 1896. Wallace, Marks and Steven Marks, eds. Telling it Slant: Avant-Garde Poetics of the 1990s. Tuscaloosa, AL: The University of Alabama Press, 2002. Watten, Barrett. Total Syntax: Poetics of the New. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1985. Werner, Marta, ed. Emily Dickinson’s Open Folios: Scenes of Reading, Surfaces of Writing. Werner. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1995. —. ‘Lost Events: Toward a Poetics of Reading Emily Dickinson’s Late Writings.’ Emily Dickinson’s Open Folios: Scenes of Reading, Surfaces of Writing. Ed. Werner. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1995. 11–41. — . ‘“Most Arrows”: Autonomy and Intertextuality in Emily Dickinson’s Late Fragments.’ Text 10 (1997): 41–74. —. Radical Scatters: An Electronic Archive of Emily Dickinson’s Late Fragments and Related Texts. Center for Digital Research in the

bibli o g r a p h y

Humanities, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, 2009. http://libxml1a. unl.edu:8080/cocoon/radicalscatters (link no longer active). Whitman, Walt. Leaves of Grass. 1855. Introd. Harold Bloom. New York: Penguin Classics, 2005. Williams, Alan. ‘Is Sound Recording Like a Language?’ Yale French Studies 60 (1980): 51–66.

227

Index Agamben, Giorgio 183–4

Amnesty International 130–2, 153–7, 160–3, 164–5, 213ch4n8

Bentham, Jeremy 136 Benveniste, Émile:

‘I’ and ‘you’ echo 13–15, 120, 158, 181

architectural elements as punctuation

language and reality 18–20,

architectural promenade see spatial

pronouns 156, 186-7, 214n9

Arendt, Hannah 29–31, 114, 125, 156,

subjectivity of ‘I’ and ‘you’ 25–9, 31,

marks 52–3 order

166-7

203n15

signification 56 62

artworks, engagement with 7–15,

birds, flaps and wings 83–8

Cells of Release 130–5, 148–50,

Bosnia-Herzegovina 164–5,

25–33

157–63

blood 188–92 188–92

Dickinson, Emily 67, 81, 83–4

Bowles, Samuel 95–9

Pair Object III: For Two Rooms 46–51,

breath 150–1, 212–13n7

Lustmord 179, 191–2 54–60

Passages Paysages 103–7, 129 see also ‘I’ and ‘you’

Bal, Mieke 11–14, 32, 39, 205n2 Barthes, Roland 7–10, 126–7, 148–9

‘grain’ 28, 81, 108, 113

Baudry, Jean-Luc 210n11

Bradford, Richard 81 Brogan, T.V.F. 83

Burks, Arthur 21–7, 33, 46, 50, 62, 121

Bushell, Sally 207–8n7

Butler, Judith 103–5, 128–31, 172–80, 191, 204n19

Cameron, Sharon 76–7, 206n4 Cavarero, Adriana 103–4

229



230

p o e tics a n d p lac e

Cells of Release 130–4

Cells of Release (poem) 144–8, 157–63

Eastern State Penitentiary 135–8

engagement methodology 132–5, 148–50

performance of 138–43, 150–4

speaking on behalf of others 154–7

Dickinson, Emily 83

‘The lassitudes of contemplation’ 89–92

reclusive spatial occupation 83–4 scriptural voice 72, 75–6, 79–81

‘A sloop of amber slips away’ 71–82

‘These are the nights that beetles love’ 92–7

Certeau, Michel de:

‘’Twas later when the Summer went’

spatial order 51–3, 68, 208n8

‘The vastest earthly Day’ 83–8

Concept-city 136–8

spatial practice 5–6, 43–5, 61–2, 149–50, 213ch5n8

97–103

writing process 64–8, 73–4, 97–8, 208n1

Cha, Theresa Hak Kyung 128, 129,

discipline and ‘disciplinary spatial order’

on Passages Paysages 102, 111, 127–9

dream-work 115–16

Clément, Catherine 50–1

Drucker, Johanna 4, 149

200n4

see also Passages Paysages Concept-city 136–8

Coplan, Amy 195–7

critical methodology 7–15, 107–8, 130–5, 148–50

ethics of critical response 175–87 Crumbley, Paul 206–7n4 Damisch, Hubert 67–8

dashes, Dickinson’s use of 206–7n4

136–7, 139–44

dropout, video 122–3, 128

Eastern State Penitentiary 130–1 floor plans 135, 137

Eberwein, Jane Donahue 85–7 echo 14–15, 118–20

Eco, Umberto 8–9, 69 ego 25, 29

electronic archives: Dickinson’s manuscripts 66–7, 207n5

Deleuze, Gilles 211n14

Elsaesser, Thomas 128

Deutsche, Rosalyn 168–9, 183–4

engaging with works see artworks,

Derrida, Jacques 201n8

Dickinson Archive 34, 67–8, 200n4, 207–8n7

ringlet 89

see also electronic archives

empathy 36–7, 195–7

engagement with; critical methodology

ethicopolitics 168–9

ethics of critical response 175–87



I NDE X

‘face’ 171–5, 180–1, 190

feminism 6–7, 13, 166–75, 178–9, 195 films 115–16

Horn, Roni:

on Pair Object III: For Two Rooms 58, 205n3

floor plans:

see also Things Which Happen Again

Pair Object III: For Two Rooms 43–6,

Hubbard, Melanie 207–8n7

Eastern State Penitentiary 135, 137 60–2

Howe, Susan 93–4, 206–7n4

folding model of poem 89–92

indexical symbolising domain 58–60

fragments 71–82

see also ‘I’ and ‘you’

Franklin, R.W. 64–7, 74, 86–7, 95,

‘I’ and ‘you’ 13–14, 25–33

Foucault, Michel 135–8, 211–12n4 fragmentation 72 99

Fraser, Kathleen 151–4 Fuss, Diane 83–4

Galerie Lelong 44–9, 61 gaps 10

see also ‘silences’

Germany: context for Lustmord 165–7

gesture 113–16, 124–5, 148–50, 170 Grosz, Elizabeth 202n11

‘haptic visuality’ 123, 174–5 Hejinian, Lyn 69 hesitation 93–6

Higginson, Thomas Wentworth 83, 206n2

Hiroshima 170–2

Holland, Jeanne 98, 99, 207–8n7 Holzer, Jenny:

on Lustmord 164–5, 188–92

see also Lustmord

‘non-indexical symbol’ 204n18 indexical symbols 21–5, 193–5

Cells of Release 148, 154, 153–65

Dickinson, Emily 73–4, 79–81 Lustmord 175–87

Pair Object III: For Two Rooms 34, 62–3

Passages Paysages 103–7, 111, 120

see also ‘face’; letter-writing; lyric ‘I’; pain

Jakobson, Roman 15–21, 24–8, 62, 200–1n5

Johnson, Thomas H. 84–6 Judd, Donald 57

Kalman, Tibor 190

Kämmerling, Christian 18–42 Kaye, Nick 68

kinetics see movement Kotz, Liz 5

Krauss, Rosalind 212n6

Kristeva, Julia 199–200n3 Kwon, Miwon 208n9

231



232

p o e tics a n d p lac e

Language school of poetry 3, 69–70,

Morley, Simon 202n9

Laplanche, Jean 103–4

Morris, Sharon 113, 204n16

199n1, 199n2, 200-1n5

letter-writing 124–5, 15–97 Levertov, Denise 80

Levinas, Emmanuel 169–75, 180–1, 190

Lewallen, Constance M. 106, 110, 113, 117, 122, 124, 126

Lustmord 36, 164–7, 189

the critical image 169–75

distribution and circulation 167–9 ethics of critical response 175–87 lyric ‘I’ 14–15, 208–9n14

material poetics 188–92 McGann, Jerome 206n4

Marks, Laura 123, 174–5 Marxism 4

material poetics 15–21, 51, 63, 188–92

‘material spacing’ 115

‘material spatial syntax’ 70, 99–100 melos 78

memory 102–3, 134–5 ‘memories’ 144–8

Morris, Charles 57, 205n6 movement:

filmic stills 115–16 poetry 150–4

spatial relations 52–3 mutilation 162–3 cuts 95–101

Nancy, Jean-Luc 108–9, 114–15, 125, 155–6

Olson, Charles 150–4, 212–13n7 pain 154–7

Pair Object III: For Two Rooms 33–4, 39–43

encounter with A 46–51 encounter with A’ 54–60 floor plans 43–6, 60–2

interval between A and A’ 51–3 panopticon 135–8

see also Eastern State Penitentiary Parkes, M.B. 51–3

Passages Paysages 34–5, 102–7, 210n6

the past 121–3

beginning 107–9

Meskimmon, Marsha 6–7, 166–74,

‘Passage’ 1 109–12

Mengele, Joseph 165 202–3n12

methodology, critical see critical methodology

Mill, John Stuart 84

Miller, Christanne 209n20

ending 129

‘Passage’ 2 113–16 ‘Passage’ 3 116–20 ‘Passage’ 4 121–3 ‘Passage’ 5 123–5 ‘Passage’ 6 126–9



I NDE X

Peer Gallery 209n3

Peirce, C.S. 21–5, 33, 50, 203–4n16, 204n17

performance:

Ray, Paul 72

‘Referent’ 16, 18, 126–8

Rendell, Jane 5–6, 12–14, 32, 70, 181

Olson on 150–4

repetition:

Perloff, Marjorie 199n2, 200–1n5

lyrical 14, 109–10, 118–20, 144–8

site-specificity 68–9, 208n9 photographs 204n17

Cha’s Passages Paysages 126–9

Dickinson, Emily 83

encountering objects in two rooms 47–9, 54–6

Piece for Two Rooms see Pair Object III: For Two Rooms

architectural 60, 135–8 physical 138–43 Riegl, Alois 125

Riley, Denise 14–15, 73–4, 79–81, 119–20

Rorschach inkblot test 96 Ruf, Beatrix 164–5

‘place’ 43–4, 60–1, 68, 201n8

Saussure, Ferdinand de 18, 43–4, 61,

prison design 135–8

Sayre, Henry 9–10, 100

Dickinson, Emily 64–8, 73–4, 97–8,

scraps 71–82

Pollock, Della 10–11 processes:

206n1

Templeton, Fiona 130–3 pronouns:

Benveniste 156, 186–7, 214n9

see also ‘I’ and ‘you’

punctuation 51–3, 60

Dickinson’s dashes 206–7n4

line breaks 80

Radical Scatters 66–7, 207n5 rape:

modern warfare 164–7

perpetrator, victim and observer 177–89

see also Lustmord

203–4n16

Scarry, Elaine 154–5, 213n8 scriptural voice:

Dickinson, Emily 72, 75–6, 79–81 echo of Cha 119

Templeton, Fiona 153, 160–1 sculpture, minimalist 43, 57–8 self-representation 83, 103–4 Serra, Richard 208n9 shock value 167–8

‘silences’ 1, 10, 52, 100–1, 193 Silliman, Ron 200–1n5

Silverman, Kaja 25–7, 116–18 site-specificity 68–9, 208n9

Smith, Martha Nell 64–5, 100 Socradies, Alex 206–7n4 Sontag, Susan 167, 172

233



234

p o e tics a n d p lac e

sound recording 117–18

Things Which Happen Again:

‘space’ 43–4, 61, 67–9, 208n8

conceptual underpinnings 40–3

spatial practice 5–6, 43–5, 61–2,

Todd, Mabel Loomis 65, 81–2, 84

spatial order 51–3, 68, 208n8 149–50, 213n8

spatiotemporal location 23–7, 32, 50, 60, 195, 199

letter-writing 126

see also Pair Object III: For Two Rooms Tolstoy, Leo 203n14 traumata 100–1

Tuckerman, Prof. 74, 78

of particular artworks 62, 68, 70, 76,

visual-verbal-spatial 151–4

‘speech event’ 15–21

breath of the poet 150–1, 212–13n7

151, 177

voices:

‘stanza’ 85

perpetrator, victim and observer 175–87

Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin 164,

see also gesture; ‘grain’ under Barthes,

Steiner, George 1, 193 167–9, 188–92

‘symbolising domain’ 58–9

‘voice itself ’ 114–15, 125, 156–7 Roland; ‘I’ and ’you’

syntax, spatial 69–70

Watten, Barrett 69–70

Templeton, Fiona 35–6, 130–62,

Whitman, Walt 94

on Cells of Release 132, 145, 160,

‘Woe’ and ‘Son’ 79

200n4

211n1, 213n8

Werner, Marta 66–7, 72–3, 95–102, 207n5

Wodiczko, Krzysztof 170, 183 World Trade Center attacks 177