One of the things I appreciate about meme/challenge/prompt blogs is that they inspire me to write more. Well, and do more art. One of the truths I discovered moving from graduate school to being an academic is that I love assignments, but I am very bad about making them for myself. So thanks again to Satu Kaikkonen and her new blog Time for a Vispo for inspiring me with an invitation to create work.
This set of images continues my fascination with bar codes, but goes in a slightly different aesthetic direction. I locate this "difference" in a tension I struggle to articulate. At its broadest, I think it is a tension between the more abstract (yesterday's offering) and the more representational (today's). Similarly but not isomorphic, it might be a tension between image (aesthetic composition) and words (linguistic meaning). And maybe there is a little tension between the accessible and the indeterminate. I am not really interested in choosing sides; I am obviously not even sure what the sides are. My point, though, is that I find both (all?) sides productive places to work. In truth, visual poetry (like its predecessor, concrete poetry, and its contemporary variants like poemics) is open to multiple approaches, multiple styles, multiple philosophies. As it should be.
So, with no apologies, I offer today's take on the bar code. I am influenced, obviously, by a pun (linguistic and visual) on both "bar" and "code." Satu's prompt notes the ubiquity of the bar code in contemporary life. But aren't bars and codes, themselves, also sort of ubiquitous? Part of the Vispo heritage is the "intermedia" of the Fluxus movement, one that valued the found poetry of urban signage and the DIY aesthetic of the Xerox zine. Today, that is the influence I honor (or, well, maybe just borrow).
My internet friend and accomplished visual poet/artist, Satu Kaikkonen, has started a new blog, "Time for a Vispo," where she offers weekly challenges (prompts) for visual poetry (a.k.a. "vispo"). Her inaugural prompt is simply a bar code.
A happy coincidence, that. I've long been fascinated by bar codes. One of my first performance art pieces, "Body Sonnet," worked heavily with the image of the bar code and the concept of scanning information. More recently, I have been active in (as adviser and contributor) a local artists collective called "The Bureau of Artistic Reasources Corporation," or "BAR Corp" for short. The bar code is their/our logo and has made frequent appearances in our now defunct visual poetry project for the comics page of a local newspaper. Below is one of Joe Hassert's contributions to that project:
So, in addition to the already quite strong connection I feel to Satu's work, this synchronicity of image seems charged to me. I pursue my visual art intuitively and avocationally, drawn to it with the love at the root of the word "amateur." I sometimes wonder what it is all for, though. I enjoy it. I am an avid believer in the DIY aesthetic, and I know my psyche needs constant outlets for creative expression. But I sometimes forget to enjoy the journey and get hung up on the destination.
And then something like this happens: A friend I know only through virtual connection and social networking offers an opening move in a game of artists and, in doing so, calls forth a familiar and personally meaningful symbol. I don't know where this is going. I probably can't know. But I deeply, deeply appreciate signs like this along the way that I am on the right (or at least a very productive) path.
Funny how I thought the summer would come with more time for blogging. Well, technically, I guess it has, but summer also comes with more ways to spend one's time.
I am sort of recently back from a trip to North Carolina, where I combined some professional work with a visit to my folks. Both went exceedingly well, and the visit with my parents sparked the creation of a 12 page comic titled, "Vacation on the Moon." Not sure what I am ultimately going to do with that, but here's a page from it:
I'm working with influences from Abstract Comics, poemics, and asemic writing in this comic -- and I mean "influenced by" rather than trying to just do any of those. I am less interested in capturing what happened on the trip and more interested in an open narrative of possibilities and the phenomenological experience of interpreting confusing messages. Formally, I am interested in working with abstraction without leaving behind recognizeable representation. Elements (some of them, anyway) may be recognizable, but their relationships aren't necessarily clear. I think (although I could be wrong) that this approach in some ways captures more of the feeling of the trip (ambiguous as those sometimes were) rather than the facts or a unified narrative of it.
Whether or not it "succeeds" as a comic (abstract or otherwise), at least the trip and the week or so after it resulted in some creative expression. I think I needed that!
And in this case, it was work generated significantly away from digital graphics software. Okay, what's attached here has been processed, but it started out as pages in a journal, scanned and cleaned. It felt good to work "old-school" with paper and pencils and pens.
This has not been my only work. I still post work at the Abstract Comics blog, including the opening image of this post and the following:
I also continue to be interested in asemic writing, and post the occasional work at Satu Kaikkonen's collaborative blog, foffof: AsemicWritingsLettersAndMarks. Some of my recent contributions there:
So, in other words, I've been keeping busy. Just. Not. Here.
And why is that? Reluctance to post smaller offerings through more portable technology? I guess, yeah, a little. Or maybe a little uncertainty about what this blog is really for. Ah yes, "purpose." Well, have no fear on that account. I am cooking some ideas to give this blog a little more direction -- a project, perhaps. More to come. But for now, let's just say I am checking in with interesting art and reassuring you all that more will follow.
Until then, enjoy your summer in the Northern Hemisphere. Don't be afraid to put down the internet and go outside and enjoy a bit of it.