Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Words as Art
My big question is can words be art? There are artists who think so: Kay Rosen, Ed Ruscha, Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer. When I understand their work, I'm so thrilled, I accept the possibility. At best, there is a visual image that forms from the formal arrangement and play of letters and words. In these cases, graphic design, meets writing, meets meanings of words, meets conceptual art (Kay Rosen). Sometimes, text-based work is about content and public placement (Jenny Holzer). In these cases, the thrill comes less from what I'm seeing, than from what I'm reading and thinking. It's in the head. But, most often, there is no thrill, because I don't get it.
Can words as art be moving, immediately emotionally stirring. That's my goal in the text-based videos I've been developing. The jury is still out. But, I think the best examples of moving words I've seen are in film, not only in the work of masters lke Jean-Luc Godard, but in tools like intertitles and title sequences. When they work, they can seem like poems.