Verbicovisual Fictionscurated by This is Jackalope
Lucía Gómez Meca
We have read Kenneth Goldsmith’s Uncreative Writing some time ago now. In this book, published in 2011, Goldsmith discusses how language, writing, and text are developed in today’s digital age. This reflection was the starting point for us to try to unravel the possible connections and relationships established between spoken or written language and certain trends within the most recent artistic practice. On the one hand, we were interested in finding out how we were working with language as an artistic material, something that throughout the history of art had already developed from the avant-garde of different forms and approaches.
We aspired to investigate how the digital age and the Internet had influenced the new artistic production and how the art / language / Internet relationship developed today. On the other hand, the intention was to tag certain common characteristics (or not) in the works of the artists we had identified in order to describe the works according to a system of the digital environment. The way we went over is told in more detail below.
In Uncreative Writing, Goldsmith explains how the digital age has led to many ideas emerging in the historical avant-garde have been able to take place. Internet has imposed a new paradigm presenting itself as a gargantuan container of information that does nothing more than generate writing in continuous movement and transformation. We can recognize that today it is not the visual (challenging McLuhan’s prophecies), but the text that predominates. Everything is text, or rather hypertext, because below the thin skin of the photos, videos, graphics, and sound tracks with which we relate continuously on the screens, are miles and miles of language. An excess of hyper-textuality that has made everything become a terrain of dislocation, chaos and confusion. The transversality as an obligatory line that allows adapting the complexity and contradiction of the extremes.
An essential aspect of Goldsmith’s speech is the material dimension of language, that is the fluidity, plasticity, or malleability that derives from the overwhelming variety of media-containers it receives on the Internet. Words for a moment cease to be mere vehicles of content, to be treated taking into account their material dimension, ranging from transparency to opacity and from what to how. This replicates what happened in the last century, and how the roles were blurred: the visual and the literary, representation and description, images and words. How have the linguistic and the pictorial been related through experimentation? From the interdisciplinarity promoted by the avant-gardes of the early twentieth century, where the figures of painters-writers and poets-graphic designers appear, to the sound poems and concrete poetry of the 60s, the physicality of the word and the material of language have been expressed in artistic practice in different forms according to the moment and the means.
Nowadays, an action that we undertake without blinking in order to handle all the information scrub with which we bump into, is that of appropriation, the act of cut and paste in constant questioning of authorship and original genius. Pieces that play to move a text from one entity to another, causing the context to emerge as the new meaning. Works that are created borrowing what already exists, which serve to generate debate and reflection rather than reading. This connects us with chapters of art history such as the appropriationism and in general with conceptual art. Works that arise from exercises in which non-creativity has been adopted as a creative practice: the process, the dialectical images in which there is the least possible intervention, enunciative character and annihilation of traditional notions, imposing those of synthesis, falsification, and ambiguity. In relation to this it could also be talked about the fluid instability of many works, the blurred difference between seeing and thinking that trigger certain works. The difference between work and its linguistic enunciation, its formal fluidity and the hesitation of content, generating what has been called the post-image or the ghostly image.