Art and Text Get Cozy

22 Oct

Is it just us, or are art and text getting notably cozy in the chilly fall air? For your consideration:

The Graphic Design Triennial, up this week at Woods-Gerry, is a feast of form and language. The curators (including Writing Center tutor Anther Kiley) boldly organized their selection not by media but by thematic tags, including “writing,” “narrative,” and “authorship” alongside “tools,” “systems,” and “pedagogy.”

A view of the RISD Graphic Design Triennial 2010-2012

As of this fall, the Writing Center’s Sunday night tutor meetings feature a Tutors’ Salon, at which we each present on a subject of interest, then talk about it together. Subjects so far have included: the “rhetoric of design”; composing comics; and the essay “How to Tame a Wild Tongue,” in which the writer Gloria Anzaldúa argues that controlling accents controls culture itself.

Tutor Malcolm Rio presenting on the “rhetoric of design”

Tomorrow (3:30, Metcalf Auditorium) new media artist Ben Rubin visits RISD to talk about his Shakespeare Machine. A “linguistic supercollider sculpture (that’s also a chandelier)” (per ArtNews) installed at New York’s Public Theater, the Shakespeare Machine algorithmically combines phrases from thirty-seven of the bard’s plays.

Ben Rubin, Shakespeare Machine, 2012

Last week’s National Conference on Liberal Arts and the Education of Artists, held at SVA in New York, took as its theme “WORDIMAGE/IMAGEWORD,” and RISD showed up in force. Professor Mike Fink presented “A Shared Legacy: To Read Pictures and to See Sentences”; ID grad alum Kyung Hoon Hyun presented “Design Democracy”; and Writing Center Director Jennifer Liese presented “Toward a History (and Future) of the Artist Statement.” Keynote speaker Bill Beckley’s talk, “Image Boink Text: The Erotic Relationship of Language and Art,” was a tour-de-force of speculative notes on the many ways in which image and text commingle, from the literal (e.g., the captioned documentary images of the Earthworks artists) to the invisible (e.g., the historical narrative embedded in The Raft of the Medusa).

And finally …

Photographer Sally Mann visited RISD a couple of weeks back and in a sold-out lecture shifted the audience’s gaze from her images to her text, reading from her forthcoming memoir, If Memory Serves.

No, it’s definitely not just us.

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