Friday, December 31, 2010

[Yasmin_discussions] last minute last day comment

Hi Yasminers

I have been reading your letters and also read Bronac's comment re my 1968 E=MC2 Poemcone. I thought I should add my own comment, if it isn't too late.

I began making Poem Machines ( in 1962 while living in Paris. I had met the Greek magnetic sculptor Takis there and through him I met Sinclair Beiles, Gregory Corso, William Burroughs and my close friend and collaborator, Nazli Nour. I saw myself as an anti-poet, a young artist bored with conventional poetry. I wanted to split the word in the same way scientists had split the atom. I frequented the Science Museum (Musee de la Decouverte) having decided that the displays there were as interesting if not more than those at the Musee d'Art Contemporain, and was inspired by what may have been an early interferometer to make my first machine, which I called Vibrograph. It consisted of 2 revolving metal cylinders, on which I had painted 5 columns of parallel lines of slightly varying thickness. The 2 outer columns and the middle column were perpendicular to the ends of the cylinder, whereas in the remaining 2 columns the lines were t!
ilted all at the same angle and thus parallel to each other. When these two cylinders revolved, one saw a strange vibration and the black lines appeared coloured. On observing this, I reflected that letters were also made up of lines with the added capacity of becoming words. Minutes to Go had just been published. Cutting up text seemed to liberate both words and ideas through incongruous meetings. I realised that if I placed text, any text at all, on my metal cylinders and made them spin at different speeds, the carefully constructed sentences would be fractured and fragmented, words would be seen in unplanned contexts or perhaps not at all, become blurred vibrations, a new kind of poetic energy. I would be creating a continual kinetic cut-up. Nazli Nour was imediately seduced by the idea and offered her writings. ' Make my poems move'. It wasn't possible to use them in entirety since one poem might be 20 pages in length but Nazli gave me complete freedom to edit them as I!
wished so that they worked on the Poem Machines. Quite a few !
other po
ets asked me to use their poems but were reluctant for me to alter them. This wasn't possible because the media one uses always brings change. You cannot expect to put the same constructed sentences on a spinning drum that you might on a piece of paper. Leonard D. Marshall was another poet whose text I worked with. His poems were extremely short and often just right for my machines as in Sky Never Stops now in the collection of th National Art Library and the Victoria & Albert Museum. Sometimes I would use my own texts as in Atomaction and Protons are Positive or the more recent

I switched from using cylinders to using cones as the revolving forms because on a cone, the apparent speed of the words wrapped around them changed at different levels as the diameter of the cone increased or decreased. Another very interesting observation was the different way in which these kinetic poems were read or perceived by the naked eye or by the lens of a 16 mm camera or a video camera for that matter. This can be seen in my film What is the Sound of One Hand Clapping? but to see the difference, you would have to see a Poemcone in real time through your own eyes.

In the last two years, I have made Poemdrums in which readable text becomes light through changes in speed of the drums onto which the text is inscribed. Most recently, I have been experimenting with laser cutting letters onto nested drums revolving in opposite directions at different speeds. I am interested in how the eye/brain adapts to the challenge of making sense of the floating word fragments and eventually actually reading the ungraspable text.

By the way, the anecdote that Bronac mentioned re my meeting with Joao Maquiego was quite amusing. I had seen him on tv speaking with a colleague about their research into the early universe and heard him say that they thought one way of explaining certain unexplained features was to alter the constant C = the speed of light. I thought that was very exciting and sent him an email. He replied saying he had looked at my site and liked my work. Could he visit my studio? Naturally. The first piece he noticed as he entered my office was E=MC3 and he said: 'I see you realte to our ideas.' I replied, ' Yes but I made that in 1968.'

Wishing you all a very adventurous and positively luminous 2011!


Liliane Lijn

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