Week 17 : text


I can’t remember not reading. I remember the process of learning to read following the adventures of John and Betty in my Victorian Readers. In no time at all I was reading everything I could as well as writing notes and letters. Text is seductive, it leads our eyes to decipher  letters, to form them into understandable words, to turn text into meaning.

This week I have been using more sophisticated audio equipment to record paper making sounds. This has resulted in greater linear detail when I transfer the sound wave data into a sonic image. I also discovered a text layer which I could add into the program.  In this image I was trying to describe the sound of tearing paper from the screen when it was dry. It makes a crackle, a rasp,  close to the letters c and k.

What happens is that the eye is drawn to the tiny text. We ask ourselves: what is written? Does it add meaning? Am I correctly deciphering what it says?

In the book Timeless Paper, artist Mathijs Stagink writes about his work which is comprised of large letters cut into sheets of paper. The capital letters appear like lines of text to be read, yet we cannot make sense of them try as we might.

” In the hierarchy of perception, an inscribed sheet of paper is ranked higher than a blank sheet of paper. We are inclined to read first, then we see. Do letters and symbols give us more important information than direct observation?”[1]

As I think about ways to mark  my paper, to imbue it with meaning, to embed information within its substance….I am led back to text or the idea of text. What am I trying to say?


[1] Peter Gentenaar, Loes Schepens, and Biennial Holland Paper, Timeless Paper = Tijdloos Papier, Tijdloos Papier (Leiden, The Netherlands: Uitgeverij Compres BV, 2002), 56.




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