Intertextuality

intertext (03 April 2015)

intertext (03 April 2015)

“Just a moment, please.” Walking with a friend along a side-street, I had (out of the corner of my eye) spotted a ‘photo-op’ – a wheelie-bin outside the rear entrance to a hotel. My friend’s arched eyebrow and crooked smile told me he didn’t ‘get it’.  But that’s okay …

The digital camera makes it easy for me to grab stuff in passing. I rely on being able to act quickly, without stopping to analyse what I am seeing. (There’s always time for that later.) But, in what can take as little as a few seconds, I often find myself with an image that seems to make some sort of sense – even if not everybody gets it.

I explain this to myself in terms of Roland Barthes’s theory of “intertextuality” …

“The intertextual nature of writing turns both the traditional author, and the traditional critic, into readers,” explains Voicu Mihnea Simandan, in a blog piece titled Barthes’s elements of intertextuality (see Note 1). The blogger elucidates further: “Barthes’s theory of text involves the theory of intertextuality because the text offers a plurality of meanings and is also woven out of numerous already existing texts. The text is not a unified, isolated object that gives a singular meaning, but an element open to various interpretations.”

Roland Barthes concludes The Death of the Author with the following lines: “… a text is made from multiple writings, drawn from many cultures and entering into mutual relations of dialogue, parody, contestation, but there is one place where this multiplicity is focused, and that place is the reader, not, as hitherto said, the author. The reader is the space on which all the quotations that make up the writing are inscribed without any of them being lost; a text’s unity lies not in its origin but in its destination … the birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author” (Barthes, 1977: p 148).


NOTES:

1/ Voicu Mihnea Simandan is a Bangkok-based Romanian expatriate who lives in Thailand. His blog is called A Romanian in Bangkok.

2/ This citation is the final passage in “The Death of the Author,” in Image-Music-Text, by Roland Barthes, translated by Stephen Heath (1977).

Mixed media collage

Two shots here, separated by about six months. A fascination with corrugated iron is the most obvious visual connection, but there are aspects of an aesthetic which some might identify as grunge – although I am not really a fan of Pearl Jam, Nirvana, or other grunge bands. Look at the work of New Zealand sculptor, Jeff Thomson, and you might get some insight into the fascination.

mixed media (29 August 2014)

mixed media (29 August 2014)

mixed media (07 February 2015)

mixed media (07 February 2015)

Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

painted pole (11 January 2015)

painted pole (11 January 2015)

A year ago – almost to the day – I opened a new document and gave it this name, but did no writing in it. My intention, if I recall correctly, had been to use Samuel Beckett’s words (from Worstward Ho) as the seed of something. Since then, the draft has seen the light of day more than once – but with no demonstrable result.

Along the way, I’ve written and photographed … and, from time to time, published. You might have noticed that this is my first post for the New Year … and that I’ve put nothing up since before Christmas. So Beckett’s text is apt. As ever.

Perhaps, I told myself, today, a new WordPress theme will inspire me. Well, yes … having tried a couple, I concluded that the old stuff looked awful in the new themes. So I’ve reverted to the old Tarski.

“Unchanged? Sudden back unchanged? Yes. Say yes. Each time unchanged. Somehow unchanged. Till no. Till say no. Sudden back changed. Somehow changed. Each time somehow changed.”  (Samuel Beckett, in Worstward Ho)

During the past twenty-four hours, I’ve been considering that |cross-ties| is fundamentally – or, at least, primarily – a photo-blog. And the photos I seem to like best are like this one. So that’s it … for now.

“Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” (ibid)

“Samuel Beckett is sui generis … He has given a voice to the decrepit and maimed and inarticulate, men and women at the end of their tether, past pose or pretense, past claim of meaningful existence. He seems to say that only there and then, as metabolism lowers, amid God’s paucity, not his plenty, can the core of the human condition be approached … Yet his musical cadences, his wrought and precise sentences, cannot help but stave off the void … Like salamanders we survive in his fire.” (Richard Ellman)


NOTES:

Worstward Ho is a prose piece by Samuel Beckett. Its title is a parody of Charles Kingsley’s Westward Ho!. Written in English in 1983, it is the penultimate novella by Beckett. Together with Company and Ill Seen Ill Said, it was collected in the volume Nohow On in 1989 (Wikipedia: Worstward Ho [stub]).

Colin Greenslaw has done an elaborated version of Worstward Ho (interpolated with what he calls ‘expansions’ of the original text), which can be found on the Samuel Beckett On-line Resources and Links Pages.

On the Empire of Lights web-site is a ‘picture series’ which photographer Tobias M Schiel has titled “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” (Samuel Beckett). Very good.

Shadowy past

surface (August 2006)

surface (August 2006)

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PS: This image came to light recently amongst a number of selected shots in a folder dated 2009. I have subsequently discovered its original, which dates from August 2006.

Repaint your city

repaint your city

repaint your city

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Urban environments offer me the possibility to explore my own sense of space. In doing so, light always triggers me. I’m fascinated by the way light is able to change the geometry of a certain space, which looks different one minute to the next, offering new geometric shapes all over again. (Wilma Eras, on her blog, Erassima)

A photographer friend commented to me recently: “Not many people can appreciate abstracts.” As one strongly attracted to abstract photography – and to abstract art in general – I’m not convinced he’s right. But then, the term “abstract” has different meanings for different people.

“Abstraction exists along a continuum” – as the Wikipedia article on abstract art so succinctly puts it. For me, Rudolph Arnheim’s pithy summation works equally well in relation to abstract photography: “Abstract art uses a visual language of form, color and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world.” (Rudolph Arnheim, in Visual Thinking)

The proliferation of internet-based photo-media makes it increasingly easy for anyone who, like me, has greedy eyes to spend hour after hour in front of a computer screen. But I do have my favourites.

From time to time I look in on Erassima, the blog of Wilma Eras – who hails from the Netherlands. Responses to her image, “repaint your city”, include the following from Richard Guest: “Lovely balance between abstraction and physicality – I really like them!” That balance is something I really value, too.

In February this year, a blog calling itself Red Square Gallery featured a folio of photos Wilma described as “Urban scenes painted by shadows.”

Graffiti, tags and street art seem to be among the current hot attractions for photographers. But few of them seem keen to engage explicitly in the ongoing anger-charged discourse on the subject of “tagging as vandalism”. But that is another topic … for another post.

Art: think you’ve got it taped?

tape art (22 Feb 2013)

tape art in Civic Square (22 Feb 2013)

“Street art team Erica Duthie and Struan Ashby have extensive international experience creating temporary murals made from masking tape,” according to The New Zealand Herald‘s on-line Event Guide.

Each day from 20 to 25 February 2013 – as part of the Fringe festival – the two tape-wielding storytellers worked their way around a cube in Wellington’s Civic Square. The work was in constant flux as figures were drawn, removed and re-drawn as the narrative developed.

It was late in the afternoon as I wandered through with my camera, and the terracotta bricks were all but deserted.

Tape Art is an original and playful art medium that relies on the simple idea that tape can be manipulated to form expressive drawing lines. Our works have explored many themes, but are always figurative, often telling stories with open metaphors. (Tape Art NZ)