Words fail me

Morrad, Annie and Dutton, Steve (2016) Words fail me. In: Research Practice: Practice Research, 15 July 2016, NAFAE Cumbria.

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Words fail me

Annie Morrad’s PhD is a practice based exploration and analysis of creative improvisation as a form of research.

Critically in relation to this symposium, it also approaches the institutional demand for a textual element by critically engaging in the relationship between text and practice, thus impacting on the practice based PhD landscape.

The relationship between ‘text’ and ‘work’ is here formulated through a method of becoming, which emerges from the very act of improvisation. This method acknowledges the complex relationships between practice and textual exegesis, aiming to foreground, or at least propose, improvisatory practice as a form of embodied knowledge production, in itself.

We, Annie and I, maintain that the thesis is not solely the written element; it is the practice itself, a practice which may include a form of writing which is informed by the improvisatory nature of the practice, and Morradd’s condition of dyslexia.

Annie and I propose then, that ‘doing’ is a critical element.

As such, this presentation is also a proposition, in it’s own becoming. An ongoing part of a processual methodology. One that attempts to sidestep traditional teleological methods because, as we argue, or perhaps embody, there is no argument or statement to be defended outside of the work itself.

Oddly, the issue of writing lies at the heart of the project of artistic research more generally, because of a curious and subtle illusion that the creation and dissemination of knowledge is that which can preferably be gained through written exegesis.


As Florian Coulmas states in, The Writing Systems of the World

“As the most visible items of a language, scripts and orthographies are 'emotionally loaded', indicating as they do, group loyalties and identities. Rather than being mere instruments of a practical nature, they are symbolic systems of great social significance which may, moreover, have profound effect on the social structure of a speech community”

What some might think of as nothing less than the logic of linguistic imperialism (which makes such an illusion so potentially convincing), mistakes knowledge for knowledges (plural) and meaning for meanings ( plural ), and their own attendant, profound effects.

I ask, as an outcome of the present tense-ness of Annie’s improvisations, what of a present tense of writing?

Writing in a present which knows it is yet to be?

A form of half-writing between an utterance and an incantation?

As if writing in the half light.

This writing-in-the-half-light might suggest an act of writing as the act of seeking or summoning something within the almost written (and the spoken), pulling something out, the latency of which is always and already some kind of ‘profound effect’. A form of fetish of the yet-to-be-fully-formed.

Writing in this sense, might at least feel closer to reading and speaking and indeed making and improvising, than writing per se.

And what of this writing which shares some of its traits with improvisation?

Which enjoys slapstick, and acrobatics?

Writing in half-light of artistic research might, in some instances at least, be a hybrid between an utterance and a ‘speaking in tongues’.

What might this difference between utterance and glossolalia mean then for an active body of writing?

The body as organism, (or in orgasm), a mutating body in spasms of doing and becoming as opposed to a mutated and hypostatic body of the written and the spent.

The antithesis of some forms of knowledge.

A writing which is always becoming more of that something which always exceeds it, which always reaches out towards its own vanishing point until that very point reaches back up and swallows it whole, in violent convulsion.

What perhaps, the late Jon Thomson, while writing of Blanshow’s “Space of Literature”, described as the point of being ‘moved by a desire for oblivion’, of being ‘enamoured of death.’

Brian Massimi writes.

‘Drop sink-holes. And I mean build them in – make them immanent to the experience. If the inside folds interactively come out, then fold the whole inside-outside interaction in again. Make a vanishing point appear, where the interaction turns back in on its own potential, and where that potential appears for itself. That could be a definition of producing an aesthetic effect’.

Writing, as an aesthetic effect then, writing which swallows itself up and spews itself out over and over like some Martin Creed reversed loop. A form of writing which refuses, as Thompson states, ‘to dismember and disperse the human subject’.

Writing in and about movement, from the written to the spoken, from sign to image, from image to sound, that which dilutes what Barthes termed

the aggressiveness of which the sign, which formed from the sad and fierce history of men, is the Pandora’s box

Only that which is destined, or predesigned to be a particular other thing can be incomplete, until the thing-ness to which it is yet to become, it’s ontological dwelling if you like, is fully inhabited and the first thing made invisible.

A thing but not yet thee thing. not yet Blannshow’s oblivion. A thing not yet music, not yet poetry, not yet art, not yet philosophy, and yes, perhaps not yet even research.

Until, that is, research catches up.

Something not yet, and yet,

Still something.

A still, something.

A still something.

This is the writing which Annie and I, approach.

Keywords:research method
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W190 Fine Art not elsewhere classified
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Film)
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ID Code:25366
Deposited On:15 Dec 2016 20:58

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