It is perhaps no surprise that my first project after submitting 40000 words of literary theory / criticism and a creative portfolio that made up my phd thesis is a book of illegible scribble, paper cut ups with an audio soundtrack that is more sound than spoken word. Above is the first page of eight spreads, with some daylight infiltrating the rhs of the picture.
I think, in part, I needed to throw myself into something that felt far bigger than me to act as a buffer against the potential disorientation (or grief) of letting go the project that had taken up almost four years of my life. I needed a slow release, something familiar - words - alongside something that wasn't familiar, something I needed other people's help to being to fruition.
Another part of me wanted to explore the potential of non-linguistic communication. One element of my research was considering what happened in the white space of a page: how could the words of a poem be affected by the white page, and how did the white space affect the words? What are the resonances and ripples of sound and sense when given the amorphous sense of space? After all, space can't be instantly read, doesn't speak audibly as language, in fact how it speaks is received, I think, by a different part of our body. One where, perhaps, imagination dominates, or certainly is activated, bridging most evidently what is inside and what is out, to the point of blurring these distinctions.
These pages are all black - the poem is set at dusk - and the paper cuts and scribbles do not fill much of the blackness, so it impinges on the visual, materiality of the text perhaps in a different way to white space. What does the depth of this colour add I wonder? The blackness is also filled with the sound heard through headphones attached to the book.
The audio is a Hymas&Lewis sound piece, worked from an existing poem of mine Towards a Stranding. As usual when working with Steve Lewis I fiddled with the poem simultaneously, editing it down, getting a stronger sense of what it was, what it needed removing, respnding to what steve did and said and sang as we mucked about over it. The music - made from a shrutibox and guitar - is slow and expansive, amplifying the depth of sound, the dimension of words, and, hopefully, enveloping the listener/reader in such a way they feel inhabited by it and inhabiting the world they create.
This 15 minute audio will be embedded into the book in such a way that follows the visual narrative of the book. I have asked the audiovisual artist Kathy Hinde to 'help' me with (aka make) the audio element of the book.
I've a residency in Brighton in August where I hope to show it, and am also intending for it to come with me to Plymouth to the ASLE-UK conference in September, and, if it's still in one piece, to Manchester in October. If you'd like to know more about it, just get in touch.