Brenda Roswess

State of the Codex

This semester I will be working on 3 bodies of work which engage in the possible destabilizing of signifiers/systems/institutions associated with reading. The work is intended to be a possible catalyst for further discourse on the state of reading in the wake of the digital age’s effect on dispositions toward the codex.

The first aspect that I’ll be exploring is how the act of reading, specifically from a codex, reflects upon a reader. Given that the content of the book is unknown, those who are reading from physical books tend to be perceived in positive ways. There is a morality associated with the act of reading, where someone who is reading is perceived or portrayed (historically in portraiture) as intelligent, moral, possibly beautiful etc. There is a romanticism associated with the codex that reflects on the reader. I’ll be challenging these notions in performances in which I read, using the act of moving to a new page as a timepiece and simple gestures which deny the typically romantic image of reader and book. An example of this is a performance in which I read the book I of Paradise Lost and for each page read take a sip of water into my mouth, which is held until my mouth is completely full and water is expelled.

The second aspect is an intervention of the library that I made last semester. I’ll be moving the formerly nostalgia based, somewhat outdated library into a digital space. I’ll be digitizing the collection, and providing files (possibly altered) of books as they are requested. This will be done to explore destructive digitization practices, and issues of copyright and intellectual property. Through this I’ll be examining the fluidity of digital means in relation to ownership.

Lastly the books that I digitize will also be transcribed by hand as a gesture which conflicts with associations of both digital means, and hand skills. Copying the texts, naturally calls up the likely failure of finishing. More importantly they will be manuscript that will not be intentionally made beautiful. I want the work to deny the logic of both digital means, and craft. In copying books the expectation of hand done work tends toward beauty, or a sense of craft, because it is assumed in opposition to the economy of digital means.

No comments :

Post a Comment