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………………………………… (insert title here)

In Reasons on August 13, 2009 at 8:10 pm

I sit and watch my own intent absent-mindedly destroying all production.

I attempt to judge myself by everyone else’s standards and become swamped in my own versions of other people’s potential criticisms.

I don’t know who I write for, and I have often thought of it. I do not think I write for myself, or I would not feel compelled to show it. But I am sure I do not write for you, for why would I? You, the stranger – I do not care why you are alive.

So then, what? I write for all the dead people I have read; to respond, to agree? I write so as not to continually have to speak it? I write for clarity? I write for order?

I impose rules upon myself, I impose straight lines, I impose grids and sameness and structure. I choose to type rather than handwrite my text. I want lucidity and structure.

I like the flatness of pages. I want to take up little room. I do not want to be burdened by my objects. This, I think, is why the aesthetic of the book appeals to me. The book is the most perfect of objects: the ideal suggestion of condensed knowledge. Airtight, compressed, closed, stored away. Everything can be contained in a book; every thought, every idea, every picture.

The book is also silent. This silence appeals; I like the mystery, I like the secrets of the closed cover, the teasing spine, the tight plastic slip that denies entry before commitment, before ownership. I like the intimacy of the book, the one on one, the timelessness; I like people from all over the world and all across ages whispering all night in their typefaces to me.

Why do I make art? I want somebody else’s thumb in my pages. That’s how I like my audience: two eyeballs at a time.

I only want one listener, one receiver, one responder, one dialogue, one conversation. This is life. And how should I (how could I) study it?

I am influenced by all the art I have seen, all the art I have not seen, all the art I reject before I even look at it, all the art I approach already decided, all the art that proves me wrong: especially the art that proves me wrong.

I am influenced by every conversation I have, with people I have known for years and with complete and almost strangers. I am influenced by their viewpoints and their ways of being. I watch how people are in the world and mimic by degrees. I am always changing in part; I filter in new habits and act them until they are mine. These ideas influence my writing, and direct my ever vacillating points of view.

I find it hard to understand definitions and thus, I find it hard to know what it is that I do. I do not know which of these is the cause and which the effect.

What is expected? Which category do I fall in? I need to be classified in order to belong, to feel safe, to carefully see my own definition and in turn know what I am. I simultaneously deny and try for these listings. Perhaps this is why I prefer typeface to handwriting; it seems more final, more authoritative, more uniform, or more complete. I trust the rigidity of font far more than the whimsy of cursive.

My words often refer to themselves and wonder why they are there. I often refer to myself and wonder why I am here. Everything is a mirror for everything else, or a metaphor, or a way of making sense, or a way of looking at nonsense.

Language interests me: the natural changes of language, through time or technology, not all of it welcome. I like words, I like looking at them. I like seeing them lined up, trying to utter. I like the shapes of letters, I like that they’re everywhere and often undemanding. I like voices. I like mistakes. I like stutters. I like errors. I like typos. I am interested in the way other people think and by the language they select to do this. I am interested in the simplicity of language, in using little words to say big things.

I am interested in texts that from nothing get bigger.

Distance influences me, and I guess in this sense distance is a kind of romanticism. Can romance only exist at a distance? Only when we do not have it? Can romance only exist in the before, only in the getting? If that is the case I hope never to succeed. I hope I never find a way to make art. Without this idealism I would be static: I only want to be wanting. To be content is to be without content (I am only saying that because of the way it sounds).

So, distance: between places/ideas, in text, in the present day, reality, experience, newspapers, poetry, buildings, lyrics, conversations, flyers, films, other people. Everything I look at is everything I am not, and everything I see is everything I strive to be. My writing stems from lack, refers to this lack and wishes to destroy it.

I find history in language, I find loss; I feel sad for dead words. I filter words never heard before into two categories:

1. Those no longer relevant / those neglected and now near extinct.
2. Those never relevant / those created to serve elitism.

There are no strict rules as to my categorising; instinct perhaps. These underused words thus make me angry or make me sad. This is the evolution of words.

I attempt to forget the reader in an attempt to remain honest; it is a fallacy to believe this is possible. I am not sure art can be honest at all. One’s own eyes are reader enough to alter any possible truth. True art would have to be made by accident – or not made at all. This perhaps depends on one’s motives for art-making: is it possible to make art without looking for truth? Is it acceptable to make art without looking for truth? Is it possible to make art simply by pointing out that I can hear the wind outside my window? Does it need to be pointed out? Do I need to make art? My reasons for making art and my noticing the wind outside are the same: they both instil me with the same feelings, but only one comes more naturally to me – the wind.

The nagging expectant eye of the reader waiting for a finished product to consume, the artist himself as reader, the perpetual cycle of the roles changing over and over, the reader as stranger, unseen reader, unseen artist, anonymity. It is strange to make work and then have eyes that see it. It is strange to make friends and then have them see your work. It is strange to speak in one tongue and then in another. It is strange to take myself out of life to take the time to do this. It is hard to concentrate. It is hard to become defined.

It is important not to spoil it all with everyday inanities, which is why the stranger is preferable to the reader as friend or acquaintance. The words, or visuals, are best left alone, standing alone, as hypotheses, as metaphor: it is best they are not linked to real-life faces, places, events, conditions, situations. There is no poetry on weekdays.

I would like to create words that are beyond events, or without location. I would like to take images of bricks that could be yours or could be mine. I would like to photograph things that could be anywhere, that needn’t be anywhere, that say only what I give to them in title and what your eyes choose to infer. I would like my words to be small charcoal illustrations, on white paper, floating figures with huge borders of white empty space. I would like to have no context and be only letters that sound like words.

I would like my art to be outside time, and yet I use technology. These materials I use now will soon become dated. But I like the past, maybe dated is what I hope for.

And is art life or life art? In truth, I do not know. Maybe I am separating in order to know. Maybe I just need to buy more ring binders.

Reading is an active process; he who reads one thing will write another and he who writes is only regurgitating what he reads. The reader is looking for a specific thing, he has ideas and he wants to believe them: he will attempt to make everything he sees fit in somehow to his own pre-established world vision, or at least to not fit into it in a specific way. Thus the reader has two categories: ‘accept’ or ‘reject’ – it fits or it doesn’t. Pieces of art are never ours for long. Even the ones we think we know are running around with our mood swings.

I avoid the pitfalls of bad art simply by not writing; in this way I avoid disappointment, I avoid incompetence and I avoid inertia. If my masterpiece is always before me then I am always young and my life has not yet happened. If I am always becoming an artist then my decisions have been made already and there is no further action to be taken. I have whittled out and down those things I cannot do, and of those that are left I am happily choosing not to do them.

My favourite things to not do are; writing, typing, talking and taking photographs. I want to speak as quickly and successfully as possible about anything. I sense my own limited time and want to discuss, to convey, as much as possible within it. I choose my tools for their ease, their accessibility and their speed. I train my hands and mouth and eyes to go faster.

The typewriter, as opposed to computer, allows me focus. I am out of the habit (and aesthetic) of writing by hand and I enjoy the sensation of tapping keys (and of remembering where the keys are) more than I enjoy the rolling and looping of the pen (although only slightly). I enjoy the weight of the typewriter, the purpose with which the keys fall down. I enjoy that it cannot be deleted. I enjoy that any crossings out (or rather, strike-throughs) remain for your perusal. I enjoy being open in that way. Still, I also retain the right to censor and to hide it: I create thousands upon thousands of words, only reiterating old thought patterns, unedited, and I would not expect any reader to have the patience to read them through. And if one reader, by chance, catches upon an unsightly phrase, it is soon forgotten and lost beneath a wealth of noising.

I want to communicate this desperation to communicate; I do not necessarily have anything to communicate.

I write as a stream of consciousness; I rarely break up sentences, and I allow my tangents to carry themselves away.

I am interested in using nothing, or close to nothing, to create something. I like to use only words and eyes and have infinite variations stem forth. I like to say the same thing, but have it never be the same. I like the way my own language changes over time, as I fall in and out of the practice of saying one thing or another. I like how I repeat things and how, slowly, it becomes different things that I am repeating.

I need habit as a way to a starting point, as a place to allow all else to branch out from, as a place to go without thinking, as an efficient way of filling blank hours, so as to have at least one constructive way to waste time. The word is my filter, my translator from the wordless, soundless language inside me that is constantly feeling emotions and responding to or partaking in the world, in conversations, adventures and relationships. Writing is the tool that I use to aid this body that is trying to communicate something, for whatever reason, and for whatever reason will not stop.

What appeals to me is the density of a book, the possibilities and ideas contained within such a small space, pressed into that flatness. A book doesn’t impose; it can slide behind anything, it is hardly even there, like a magic trick or illusion. Ideas, it seems, are 2D. Or: all books are pop-up in the mind.

Through purposefully flat images a photograph knows itself, refers to what it is. The photograph is not the world but just one side of it, one view, and one angle.

I print texts over photographs and photographs over texts: both things result in obscuring each other, both methods are slightly afraid.

Lydia Unsworth is 27, and from Manchester. She studied art, but liked writing about it better. She often runs away to foreign countries, gets disillusioned and comes home again. She is currently studying Maths, which is probably a reaction against something. She writes at Getting Over the Moon.


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