The Erosion of Words Like Memory Raises Curiosity Over Meaning



Today I started incising the sculptural pieces with the words in the previous post. As I start on this long task I know that the script will change along the way. This is only one aspect of how I envisage the surface work of the sculpture developing over time, altering in response to its making.

It quickly became apparent that there was the danger that the lettering might become the principle and overt aspect of the work. However, this is not necessarily the case for two reasons. Firstly, as I handle the heavy pieces, the inscriptions will become eroded in places affecting their legibility. This allusion to the effects of time, loss of form and meaning, may invite an a posteriori interpretation of the partially hidden or cryptic content.

Secondly, the repetition of the text over the length of the sculpture, creates at a distance, a texture that does not resolve into discernable words or their constituent characters, until curiosity draws the viewer sufficiently close for those words to play their principle intended role beyond an aesthetic one; that of context. The degradation or disappearance of a particular part of the text in one place, only to reappear somewhere else, again invites the building of a narrative that may be quite different from the original. Somehow, this brings to mind the Rosetta Stone and how the stele changes from hieroglyphics to Demotic to Ancient Greek in a three-way translation of the same pharaonic decree.

The work of writing, inscribing, carving, the words creates an archaeology, a partial fossil, a cypher. These are all subliminal, at times overt, influences on my aesthetic horizon. Beforehand, I was concerned about losing the clarity of the words. In the doing of it, I have lost that fear and am perhaps more concerned with too much clarity. Erosion and loss in the handling of the pieces during work is a precious process that transforms meaning in a way that is not wholly under my control. Knowing this has loosened my hand in writing the words as they are converted into sculpture. The words resurrected in stone, live in the imagination.