A few responses to the inscription exercise I gave my students last week. They didn’t go quite so well as the first (erasure à la A Humument) and I have a few guesses why.
One is, the model Phillips offers is so accessibly bountiful, it’s hard not to find some practice in there to spring forward oneself from. In comparison, Copithorne proposes a terrifying dexterity, such fluidity with which line becomes letter becomes line, how could I do anything remotely like it, I ain’t an artist like that.
‘Nother is, the myriad possible inflections to ordinary inscription – Moorish calligraphy, graffiti in sodium-lit underpasses, Chinese wild grass cursive – weren’t immediately present to them. There as links on our course site but those don’t seem to have been touched, not much. Whose slip up that is, mine, theirs, I amn’t sure, and no big deal.
And a third, simplest and maybe mostest is, handwriting is deep habit, hard to break out of without contrivance. To convey your usual script to an altered script, one not just transferred but translated, is to translate yourself, your hand, your character – two metonyms for “script” never more telling.
Well without further ado here are a few that struck me. One, polylingual, showing the influence of its maker’s explorations in medieval practices of manuscript illumination. As well as, in the errant vegetal forms, maybe a visitation from Wm. Blake.
One in which charactery seems to have seen itself in sequin mirrors, doubled and distorted and half disintegrated, seeding a landscape of chimeric forms part Euclid part pencil crayon dream.
And this, crowblack lines perfect arcs and rudiments of script.
I scanned it in two versions. One, as above, and one with the plastic bag the student wrapped it in so the charcoal wouldn’t smudge its neighbouring papers. It came out pretty cool.
Nothing like a little distortion to see you through – chance, directed. (Click on it, and again, see it big, the textures. Do!)
Said I was going to fold in a bit of talk about my own work. Doesn’t seem like much beside what these guys are doing. But I will. Tomorrow, I think, as the battery’s fading, and the light, and my mind, and din calls.