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    A column is an architectural support or monument and a division of a page. I hope these various meanings lend themselves to a project in which I will invite, collect, collate, review, consider, and publish written works of sculpture—material incantations. Rather than strictly defining what a ‘written sculpture’ might be, perhaps examples may aid in determining the project's parameters.

     

    After moving house last year, I have been going through boxes of material: tax returns, legal notifications, love letters, break-up letters, divorce documents, intercontinental correspondence, and lots of papers from my time studying. Amongst it all were a couple of folders I had put together before university, in my late teens and early twenties. They were filled with cuttings and photocopies loosely bound together using a scrapbook methodology.

     

    One image stood out. A photocopy of a book, square in format, a dark shadow running along the gutter. Cited bottom left, a single line of text in a san-serif font, reading: 

     

    ONE STEEL I BEAM PLACED UPON A BOUNDARY AND ALLOWED TO REST. 

     

    There was no reference to who wrote this, no citation of the book, no reference to the library or collection in which it was found and photocopied. Amplified by this abandonment (or set free), it became a very particular thing—a thought object—a written sculpture. I now know that Lawrence Weiner created this work in 1968. When I found this text/image, I fell under its spell. Captivated a new by its efficiency, a stage direction, placing an I Beam only I can envisage on a boundary I can understand.

     

    The adjacent pages in the folder that held it for many years are full of dark, dense, and burnt pictures of conceptual art actions—again, no descriptions, references, or titles—just dirty images of things that look like shamanic rituals or occultist incantations.

     

    I first heard the term ‘thought object’ at college when Edward Allington used it during a crit. He wrote well, as many sculptors have and do. A section from an essay by Allington functions much like the presumed Weiner piece. I love the efficiency with which he speaks of his experience of an object, a material. Yet again, I immediately transpose this onto my own home and previous houses in which I grew up.

     

    I had to fit a carpet from our old house into the new one, but it didn't fit. It was too small and just lay there with its cut-outs and projections, like a memory of the old room. Had we really lived in a shape like this, so much smaller than I had imagined? […] the carpet was like a map – a plan of a room we no longer lived in. (Edward Allington, It's in The Corners That You'll Find It)

     

    A further example is the archived descriptor text on the Holt/Smithson Foundation website of Robert Smithson’s Partially Buried Woodshed. Although it was an action and wonderful images document the work, the official description is a work in its own right.

     

    The abandoned woodshed was already in existence on the Kent State campus in Ohio. Smithson piled earth atop the structure until the centre beam cracked. After the infamous shooting of unarmed student protestors by the National Guard, someone anonymously painted “MAY 4 KENT 70” on a horizontal beam in commemoration. The structure was partially burned down in 1975, causing further collapse. At present, all that remains of the piece is the concrete foundation and a large mound of dirt. (holtsmithsonfoundation.org/partially-buried-woodshed)

     

    These examples accurately and expediently condense life experiences or practices involved with things, materials, information, and processes. In such writing, one can turn a heal or leap to another location, dimension, temporality, or vantage point in just a few words. You can also locate objects or materials so slight, fragile, and ephemeral that the real world cannot sustain them. Yet, this is also not a virtuosic act. This quintessential virtual space is unreachable by AI and gloriously economically viable. 

     

    Several years ago, I became interested in sigils (symbols created to hold magic powers or intent). I am drawn to wonder if there are things to be gleaned from magical writing when writing sculpture. Jamie Sutcliffe, in his introduction to the book Magic (Whitechapel: Documents of Contemporary Art), states, ‘artist’s writing and magical writing may have significant yet underexplored correlations, didacticism, and the evocation and manipulation of the symbolic.’ In line with the act of making any sculpture, where one is required to begin with faith in materials, processes, and form, I also wonder if writing sculpture requires faith, a real belief in the unknown or unknowable. I hope to examine these things as the project evolves. 

     

    I started writing sculptures when studio time was swapped for childcare. I wanted to make something during my daughter's naps or while circling the park pushing a buggy; time was a bit wonky, and everyday objects transformed by caring responsibilities undertaken with a lack of sleep.

     

    Imaging objects is radical, and I hope this can resonate through the five publications I plan to make. I will invite artists and writers at various stages of their careers, those who regularly write and those who may find the challenge of writing worthwhile. I will use the previously mentioned scrapbook methodology when collecting and collating the works, adding another column to the title with each iteration.

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