Concrete, Language in and on the World

A text is a multidementional space in which a variety of writings, none of them original blend and clash.  Roland Barthes

Concrete Poets regarded language itself as rhetorical.
That of which we cannot speak, we must construct.
Ian Hamilton Finlay,
Table Talk

For this project we will look at and reflect on the work of Ian Hamilton Finaly, who was a central figure in the concrete poetry movement.
“Finlay is not a “poet” in the narrow sense most have reserved for the poor souls who have to practice this vestigial occupation. Finlay is a “maker,” a man who puts things together which is the real definition of poet in the Greek, a Buckminster Fuller has reminded us. He makes poems out of letters that have no sound in them, that function as objects to contemplate with the minds eye.”  Marjorie Perloff

Concrete poetry uses no language but forms and the multiple meanings of the forms. It uses space like paper, the word in the world to create the context for the meaning. We will look to the text-based conceptual artists that use text to bring social and political messages to the streets. Text as a medium in the work of Douglas Gordan who writes the names of every person he ever remembers meeting on the hallway entrance to the exhibitions space, or Martin Creed’s neon work, “Every thing is going to be alright” wrapping the cornice of a Grecian building in London, or Kay Rosen build boards on Miami Beach, MIAMIGOMIAMI with “amigo’ highlighted, plays with sound, negotiating between what is meant and what is seen.

Your assignment is to first consider some of this work in our collection and find a form, text and placement for a work you would put in the world. The actual installation of the work, be it 100 decals posted on bulletin boards, or a text sand blasted sheet of clear plexi on a wall. After you come up with the idea for the work, we will have workshops to use the sewing machine, plasma cutter, sandblaster, stonecutter, cloth printer, or woodcarving etc. Your work can be letterpress printed, but does not need to be. It does need to use language, be that one word or letter or an image/thing as the word.

Fall 2014

Fall 2012