It’s hard to say exactly how my scroll came to be what it is. I found a picture book of the 1960s at Bookthing this weekend and started trying to make stuff out of that. I wound up with a scroll. I wrote a poem containing the word “lost” and planned to use white out to write the poem on the scroill. That didn’t work out. I threw words and streaks and splashes across the scroll obscuring the image and wrote the poem in the middle.
It’s enjoyable to write a poem without binding myself to a traditional “page”. It’s a good way to try things out. I decided I had never written a poem the way Anne Waldman writes poems so I did, repeating words and phrases in a kind of circular motion. Her poems are like the ocean or the way the world feels when it’s about to spin off of its axis. I wanted to catch a little of that kind of energy.
Then I revised the poem to fit on the scroll.
A good portion of the book art I’ve been coming across looks like it’s been done by a hippy or a teenage girl. It seems like it’s just a craft rather than a serious art. The books I’ve looked at require a lot of skill but I’ve had a hard time relating to the aesthetics of these artists. There’s a lot of penny arcade imagery, a lot of angels, a lot of children, etc. I want something confrontational. I think this medium has the potential to do some really intense things.
The work of Brian Dettmer was the only work I came across that spoke to me in any way. The work he does that’s primarily word-driven is really exceptional and creates a new way of using the cut-up techniques of William Burroughs and Brian Gysin and making it a visual experience. He seems to be really popular among the class and there’s a reason for it. It’s at least not juvenile or done by some kind of idiot savant. That kind of art is great and all but it just seems to encompass a lot of what’s out there in this medium.
I wouldn’t go so far as to trade a cup of coffee for a lot of what I’ve come across but that’s a good reason for me to be enthused about working with the medium. There’s a lot of uncharted territory and the field is wide open to be unacceptable and to experiment and try new things. I should mention that Tom Phillips and the Humument project as well as “blackout” writing in general really interest me as a writer. As an artist, though, that kind of aesthetic just doesn’t resonate with me all the way.