as a property of the real

Form is defined by opposition to content which is foreign to it, but structure has no distinct content. It is the content itself apprehended in a logical organization conceived as a property of the real.

Lévi-Strauss, Claude. “La structure et la forme. Réflexions au un ouvrage de Vladimir Propp,” Cahiers de l’I.S.E.A. 99 série M, No.7 (March 1960).

directly and thoroughly with the present

Strange, by the way, that when we survey this whole intellectual movement, Scribe appears as the only one to occupy himself directly and thoroughly with the present. Everyone else busies himself more with the past than with the powers and interests that set their own time in motion….

Meyer, Julius. Geschichte der modernen franzosischen Malerei (Leipzig, 1867), 415-16. in Benjamin, Walter The Arcades Project, trans Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin. Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1999. 391.

changed through his reading eyes

Once upon a time there was a reader.

He read everything: world-literature, art works, music, sound, the weather, pictures on the newspaper, the television, real estate ads, his own mirror image, the publicity posters for the circus, and so on. Of course, there were also writers who produced world-literature and artists who made monumental art works, composers who created symphonies lasting an evening, or an opera-trilogy lasting a week. …

But the reader preferred to read.

As he himself claimed, he read to transform his life and used his life as reading matter.

He who reads, he thought, is between himself and that which is read. There isn’t only air there, but an expanse of land where not the inviible, but the visible is the mystery.

He collected fragments of what he read and invented conjuring-tricks with them, so that you seemed to be seeing things which weren’t intended. …

What he read changed through his reading eyes.

Van Weelden, Dirk. “A Different Kind of Never-Never-Land.” F.R. David. 3 (2008): 21.

*The text was originally commissioned by de Appel in 1991 to accompany a solo exhibition of work by Allen Ruppersberg.

the Text is experienced only in an activity of production

…the work is a fragment of substance, occupying a part of the space of books (in a library for example), the Text is a methodological field. The opposition may recall (without at all reproducing term for term) Lacan’s distinction between ‘reality’ and ‘the real’: the one is displayed, the other demonstrated; likewise, the work can be seen (in bookshops, in catalogues, in exam syllabuses), the text is a process of demonstration, speaks according to certain rules (or against certain rules); the work can be held in the hand, the text is held in language, only exists in the movement of a discourse (or rather, it is Text for the very reason that it knows itself as text); the Text is not the decomposition of the work, it is the work that is the imaginary tail of the Text; or again, the Text is experienced only in an activity of production. It follows that the Text cannot stop (for example on a library shelf); its constitutive movement is that of cutting across (in
particular, it can cut across the work, several works).

Barthes, Roland. “From Work to Text.” 1971. < >

a world of secret affinities

These proliferating individual passages, extracted from their original context like collectibles, were eventually set up to communicate among themselves, often in a rather subterranean manner. The organized masses of historical objects—the particular items of Benjamin’s display (drafts and excerpts)—together give rise to “a world of secret affinities,” and each separate article in the collection, each entry, was to constitute a “magic encyclopedia” of the epoch from which it derived.

from Translators’ forward.
Benjamin, Walter (trans Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin prepared on the basis of the German volume edited by Rolf Tiedemann). The Arcades Project, Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1999. x.

by making use of them

Method of this project: literary montage. I needn’t say anything. Merely show. I shall purloin no valuables, appropriate no ingenious fomulations. But the rags, the refuse—these I will not inventory but allow, in the only way possible, to come into their own: by making use of them.

Benjamin, Walter (trans Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin prepared on the basis of the German volume edited by Rolf Tiedemann). The Arcades Project, Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1999. 460.

draws a circle around the circle/abridged into a word

Every ultimate fact is only the first of a new series. Every general law only a particular fact of some more general law presently to disclose itself. There is no outside, no inclosing wall, no circumference to us. The man finishes his story,—how good! how final! how it puts a new face on all things! He fills the sky. Lo, on the other side rises also a man and draws a circle around the circle we had just pronounced the outline of the sphere. The already is our first speaker not man, but only a first speaker. His only redress is forthwith to draw a circle outside of his antagonist. And so men do by themselves. The result of to-day, which haunts the mind and cannot be escaped, will presently be abridged into a word, and the principle that seemed to explain nature will itself be included as one example of a bolder generalization. In the thought of to-morrow there is a power to upheave all thy creed, all the creeds, all the literatures of the nations, and marshal thee to a heaven which no epic dream has yet depicted. Every man is not so much a workman in the world as he is a suggestion of that he should be. Men walk as prophecies of the next age.

Emerson, Ralph Waldo. “Circles,” Essays and English Traits, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Charles W Eliot, ed. The Harvard Classics. New York: P.F. Collier & Son Company, 1909. Volume 5: 157.

say something about the method of composition

Say something about the method of composition itself: how everything one is thinking at a specific moment in time must at all costs be incorporated into the project then at hand. Assume that the intensity of the project is thereby attested or that one’s thoughts, from the very beginning, bear this project wihtin them as their telos. So it is with the present portion of the work, which aims to characterize and to preserve the intervals of reflection, the distances lying between the most essential parts of this work, which are turned most intensively to the outside.

Benjamin, Walter. Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin, trans. The Arcades Project. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1999. 456.

you put one thing next to another

Jonas’ work is constructed intentionally from fragments—a partially played tune, a piece of conversation repeated, a fusion of images. In an interview published in one of her exhibition catalogues, the perplexed interlocutor asks: “If the viewer is left to find the connections among all the elements presented in a piece, doesn’t it mean that no two people see the performance in the same way?” The unperturbed artist answers, “Of course.” I think it was Merce Cunningham who, in response to a similarly fretful query, remarked that a collection of disparate elements presented together wasn’t really any different than looking at [a] page of newspaper stories. “It’s the basic theory of collage: two distinct realities are placed on a plane that is foreign to both of them. You put one thing next to another and it makes something else, a third thing, a visual poem.

Morgan, Susan. Joan Jonas: I Want to Live in the Country (And Other Romances) (One Work). London, England: Afterall Books, 2006. Print. 86.


Repetition is more than repeating.

Repetition is not “repeating” because it involves the use of time, space, animation, metamorphosis, motif and context.

Sonia Sheridan would tell her students, “Copy machines can’t copy.” Exact repetition does not exist, for looking at more than one of the same thing changes each additional one. It is not standing still, but physically moving through pictures in time. The greatest sense of a “still” picture in book format is in the flip book, and it is in tremendous movement. All things are in change.

“Exact” repetition is really repetition with variation. Evven if it were possible to have “identical” copies, viewing an identically repeated picture once changes the context. Repeating the same picture many times changes the attitude of the picture-maker and the viewer. Reaction depends on the number of repetitions. Repetition is not of “identical” objects, for they do not exist. Repetition can be of similar things, having some common relationship/s. Repetition can also be of dissimilar things which bear some relationship. As Stein says, “Repeating, then, is in everything.”

Smith, Keith A. Structure of the Visual Book. Rochester: keith a smith BOOKS, 1994. p. 130-131.