My practice draws a link between language and sculpture via the page, intentionally confusing and conflating the ideas and associations of each. Previous research was concerned with Victor Hugo and Robert Smithson respective equations of a stone=a letter or a brick=a sentence as a means to examine the materiality and immateriality of printed text.Recent research examines Jonathan Swift’s satire, A Tale of a Tub. Published at a time when print culture and the marketplace began rapidly expanding, there were then—as now—doubts regarding the accountability of “facts” presented by anonymous and unregulated partisan publications. The resulting explosion of information produced unstable meanings: sources often refuted or contradicted one another. The Tub is interesting not only for what it says but also how it says it. Swift hated obtuse, meaningless texts. He purposely wrote what he considered to be a “bad book” by emulating the popular literary, scholarly and journalistic conventions of the time: many of which continue to be used today. These elements have shaped the way that we think about, read about, write about—and by extension—create art. So, if Swift is the judge: are we Yahoos (the “degenerate” inhabitants of an unknown country Gulliver meets in Gulliver’s Travels)? This brings up prescient questions (with regards to my own practice too—I’m guilty of jargon, “hard words,” and textual circumambulation): If art were to speak plainly, what would it say? When we are presented with intellectual precipices and informational sinkholes, where to find a foothold?
Victor Hugo and Robert Smithson are used as a means to examine the materiality and immateriality of printed text; from Jonathan Swift, the idea of instability through grammatical sleights of hand. The bluster of the satirist’s “straw man” (knave, fool, hack, quack, confidence man, duper, duped, or buffoon) is the modis operandi in my role as a researcher and purveyor of “Hard Words” and the production of “Strange Sights.” We are all spinners of tales (such as what you are reading right now). How does one pull wool over people’s eyes? What are the right words to say—when does “artist” turn into “hack”? In positioning myself from within satire, or even as the object of satire, I have more in common with Swift’s straw man than Swift himself.