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  7. Drawing out Language: Destabilisation of Narrative Sense through Conceptual Writing

Drawing out Language: Destabilisation of Narrative Sense through Conceptual Writing

rachel smith

Rachel Smith  - Research Degree Student

My practice is founded on predetermined generative methodologies, embracing the freedom offered by constraint.  The work contains sometimes obsessive and repetitive processes that imply endurance, while drawn lines and sound describe and embody presence and materiality. In a white noise of information I act as a conduit, filtering language and re-presenting it. Readable narratives are often disrupted in the work, producing non-communication, and the use of random number generators and mathematically-sequenced illegibility question logic.

The work moves across boundaries, between poetry, conceptual writing, and art. The processes of drawing language, writing sound, and reading as image production will be developed to explore the fragmentary nature of transmission and destabilise the flow of information. The artist has the ability to shift between positions, thus altering the discourse around the art work. This will be reflected in the research through the deconstruction of some of the theoretical and historical differences that exist between the practices of poetry, conceptual writing, and art.

In The Practice of Everyday Life Michel de Certeau acknowledges the gap of writing, between the signifier and the signified, what cannot be expressed, the fragmentary nature of language. These are the causes of failure that drive us to start over. Jacques Derrida, whose work underpins the research, proposes that meaning in language is deferred, implying a continual grasping for understanding that can never be reached.

Jean Baudrillard in Simulacra and Simulation writes of the quantity of information as inversely proportional to the level of meaning in our world. Nassim Taleb in Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable agrees with this, suggesting that when given huge amounts of information, people will use it to reach illogical conclusions, following a desire for narrative sense. In short, the more information given, the harder it is to distinguish between what is useful and what is merely noise. My work proposes using arbitrary, predetermined constraints as method, following the lead of the OuLiPo, such as Raymond Queneau's One Hundred Million Million Poems in which each line can be alternated allowing for multiple readings. Such strategies disrupt narrative flow, producing work with potential to challenge and resist legible patterns.

Project Supervisors

  • Dr Sharon Kivland (Director of Study)
  • Dr Alice Bell (Second Supervisor)
  • Dr Kate Briggs - Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature At the American University of Paris (Advisor)
  • Dr Riccardo Boglione - Editor of Crux Desperationis. International Journal of Conceptual Literature (Advisor)
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