Ceci n’est pas une Rene Magritte’s “Not To Be Reproduced”

not-to-be-reproducedThe book is reflected. The man is not. Both are closed. At the moment.

(Image found at Wikipaintings.)

Hardly a Word to Say: Mise en Abym

mise en abym n. An artistic technique in which an image contains a smaller image of itself. Also, the visual effect of standing between two mirrors so that the image recurs infinitely. Literally, “placed in the abyss.”

Bambi trots through the abyss to make sure the Duck boys have their lunch.

My first experience of mise en abym was carrying this lunchbox to school in 1978.

My first experience of the term was yesterday reading Marc Tracy’s article, “The Most Radical Art in America Has Been Cut,” which laments the loss of the Miami Dolphins’ helmet dolphin’s Miami Dolphin helmet.

(That’s the sort of sentence thinking too much about mise en abym makes you want to write!)

Really, Dolphin? Swapping a brain-wrinklingly artful helmet for naturalism and traumatic blowhole injuries?

Terminator the Second: T2 Reenacted Using Only Lines from Shakespeare!

Nashville’s Husky Jackal Theater mashes up the 1590s and 1990s in William Shakespeare Presents Terminator the Second, the story of a boy and his cyborg protector. Every line is from the plays of William Shakespeare; only proper nouns, pronouns and verb tenses were changed.

According to io9, the full play debuted at the Nashville School of the Arts in October 2011, and a DVD of the performance is in post-production now. That film will be available for download on November 1st.

(Found at the production’s homepage.)

“Text Rain,” by Camille Utterback

According to CamilleUtterback.com, Text Rain is an interactive installation in which participants use the familiar instrument of their bodies, to do what seems magical—to lift and play with falling letters that do not really exist.

On the screen they see a mirrored video projection of themselves in black and white, combined with a color animation of falling letters. Like rain or snow, the letters appears to land on participants’ heads and arms. The letters respond to the participants’ motions and can be caught, lifted, and then let fall again.

[T]hey can sometimes catch an entire word, or even a phrase…‘Reading’ the phrases in the Text Rain installation becomes a physical as well as a cerebral endeavor.

If Text Rain seems whimsical and inviting today, imagine how much more magical it must have seemed a decade or so before anyone had a Wii or Kinect.

And yes, I would buy this for our Wii. Especially if the game had artful characters and an artful environment, if it were possible to load and play any public domain work in, say, Project Gutenberg, and if there were both challenge and free play modes.

(Found at CamilleUtterback.com.)

Huge, Nearly-Wordless, Embroidered Facsimiles of Emily Dickinson’s Handwritten Manuscripts, by Jen Bervin

Emily Dickinson’s poems went unpublished during her life and for decades after her death. When they were published, nearly all of her creative, idiosyncratic punctuation and personal notation marks were deleted or changed to more familiar, standardized, comfortable, and boring marks.

Jen Bervin, The Composite Marks of Emily Dickinson's Fascicle 28

Jen Bervin’s huge quilts (up to 40 feet by 8 feet!) flip that script: she has removed nearly all the words, leaving patterns of crosses, dashes, underscores, and strikethroughs. Bervin’s pieces give prominence to the marks most of us have never seen.

Jen Bervin, The Composite Marks of Emily Dickinson's Fascicle 28, detail.

What elevates these past curiosity up to artwork, for me, is that they use craft and materials to prompt worthwhile questions. For instance: Are these marks as insignificant, as non-signifying as they seem, spattered up there in red thread? Or, are they a thoroughly personal writing method (and how would I feel if my notebooks were turned inside out and shaken for weird punctuation like this?) Or, are they a medium of communication themselves? A code, maybe? A language, even? And what have we never known because we ignored them?

Jen Bervin, The Composite Marks of Emily Dickinson's Fascicle 16.

And in a fine text-to-textile-to-text twist, now Bervin’s work is available in book form. Details about this book, more photos of these pieces, and a thoughtful essay about Dickinson’s poems and Bervin’s own work are available at her website. I encourage you to check them out.

Jen Bervin, The Dickinson Composites (Granary Books, 2010).

(Found at JenBervin.com.)