Text Installation by Barbara Kruger
One of the things I’d planned to do at The Betsy was write a site based poem and spell it out on the sand. The technology was simple—a set of plastic alphabet letters. I’d “wet run” the alphabet during a summer’s visit to Cape May with my friend Devon. I’d expected to use the letters as molds, creating a small 3-D effect. But actually they worked just as nicely as type.
Here is the poem I wrote.
geomancy = science of the sand
thrown up by winter storms
full of ghosts—
filling with salt water
there was the sea
a mild regret
a child’s plastic alphabet
tumbled in the sheets
what small necessary object
you’d lost (in this case a comb)
white as a head of cauliflower
on the writing desk;
the only visible
part of my skeleton
was my teeth
I was wearing my dress inside out
as if trying
to remember something
washed by the third wave
was bigger then
in my childhood
when it first shot
the power of self-accumulation
in a courtyard
bound by darkness
arriving by taxi
at an odd hour
what you dreamed
who you loved
currents bore you
you beat the tattoo of some as yet
on my arm
locked and groaning
like a book
with uncut pages
to build a sand castle
a single continuous line creates the pattern
head of a buddha
in red light
on a rooftop
a large starfish
a green bolide meteor
the sense that
was about to be
letters of each word
slipped through our fingers
in the infinite presence
this was desire
this was also
of the personal story
like all landscape
I wrote it on four sets of color coded index cards—one for narrative, one for facts, others from various notebooks or povs. I had about twenty-five in no particular order. I took a few phrases from the deck and spelled them out in the sand. Willa Kaufman was documenting, taking video and stills.
A variety of unexpected things happened:
1. People walked carefully around the text.
2. I encouraged two little girls to run across it and wreck the text. They gamely ran back and forth, but wouldn’ destroy it.
3. We “borrowed” a tiny little guy from his watchful dad. He was happy to create AND destroy.
4. Two northern European women in bikinis said to Willa: “Please! Take our photograph! You are a professional!” And she obliged.
5. Trying to get waves to erase the text was tricky, and all the plastic letters got carried out and had to be chased more than once.
I had a huge amount of fun. And Willa took a lot more footage of the environment—orchids by the pool, an “apocalyptic tideline”on the floor of my room built out of items in my purse and toiletries bag.
So possibly the project will complete with a short poetry video.
As a final step, I revised the poem and put it in order, using the beach/video experience as a kind of editing process.
There is no particular need for me to start a new project, I’m busy and don’t have a venue. But I do have an idea, and materials. I was at a fantastic second hand textile and quilting store in Leadville, Colorado and bought a bagful of things. I also have a dress of mine from childhood. My overall image is of a clothesline piece with seven garments or hangings on it, with some hand embroidery and some commercial (or machine, but I need to find someone who can do that).
1. Will it be emotionally satisfying or creepy to finish a piece someone else left undone?
3. The piece is partially about my synesthesia, my lifelong ongoing hallucination of the days of the week as colors and as actual people. There are seven pieces. Does each need to be a day of the week?
4. Is there another word for “weekly”?
I love the hole in this hanky!
5. Does anyone know how to do machine embroidery?
Any other suggestions?
Just back from Cape May with my friend Devon. We were experimenting with making sand poems. I am doing an ephemeral installation at the Betsy Hotel in Miami Beach in December.
These are Devon’s:
Creating the letters is much easier than I’d imagined–don’t need 3-D molds but rather can just “type” in sand. But this opens up a much more concrete element, shapes of letters, lines, making me realize I’ll probably compose as I go–more exciting but a bit scarier.
Check out the photos in the post below. Here was the process.
1. I kept a one line a day journal for a year. The process started on Valentine’s Day, 2013.
2. Went back and picked one entry per month that seemed representative.
3. Bought a windbreaker and had a local commercial embroidery business put the text on it. I had to fight with them a little to get one entry on the sleeve. I actually wanted the text scattered more, but this was an experiment.
mylar heart balloons float
middle of night zazen–snow falling window
thrasher babies–chase tiger cat with broom
petroglyphs, parallel lines, maps?
lobster roll en route
sugar ants in the cat food
snipping mint in the rain
black furry caterpillar of autumn
sunset, EMPIRE lit, pink, green Thunderbird
multicolored embroidery thread, one strand unsplit
strands of monarch butterflies eucalyptus grove
no aurora Arctic night
They sort of read like one-line haiku here. I still wish some were embroidered upsidedown.
Any suggestions for if I do this again?
I’m investigating an idea that involves projecting video text on to fabric sculpture. For example–a poetic text broken up and projected on to a geometric shape.
Can this be done relatively simply and inexpensively? Can the text change a few times as in a slide show?
How can this be done?
I’m asking blog readers and Facebook friends–my creative virtual group! This project might also be a way to cover a wall in text without having to install vinyl lettering.
Your ideas are truly welcome!