Christine Ames

Punctuation One

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Punctuation One is a piece of work about placing punctuation at centre stage and exploring the performative aspects of shorthand mark making in relation to aesthetics and experimental art.

The work represents a coded language. I would like the viewer to think of it as some sort of communication. The repetitive shorthand marks within a dialogue becomes unfocussed and disengaging. Punctuation can stop this unless used on its own. When this happens, the marks become symbols of a non-existent language that offers itself up to be deciphered.

The piece is a process of the language where letters are broken down, so that part of it takes on the form of not just an illegible sign, but also something that has become interwoven with other symbols or marks. It is interrupted and yet still has movement.

How I decided to put the punctuation and shorthand marks on the paper is a direct observation about visual art that includes text. This can be seen as overwhelming and narrowed by the words. I want to show the viewer my work that is still about language, without necessarily putting them into reading mode.

So the final outcome can either be seen as a drawing or a document.

About the Artist
My work explores how words and punctuation have a visual appearance apart from their powerful verbal meanings and how illegibility can often be more eloquent than literal interpretation. My work questions the relationship between art and language, juxtaposing the verbal and visual aspects of individual words and the space between. I also explore the importance of what is left unsaid or left out.

In contemporary art, I ask the question is text and punctuation seen as the image? I’m drawn to how the viewer is drawn to the writing on the wall, whether that is a gallery wall or a scrawl on a park bench. It would appear that language draws the viewer closer in a different way than an image does. In a similar way that a title of an artwork can make the viewer think differently about how we see that work.

Text within the work can manipulate the way the viewer responds to it. Language is more direct and harder to ignore as the viewer constantly depends on words. When we see a part of a word or a portion of a sentence in a piece of artwork, we unconsciously finish it. What the viewer observes and makes sense of language they can’t actually read is compelling to try to understand and my work explores this. As text creates questions within art, using shorthand marks do the same for me, as I understand them. However, for the viewer, this will not necessarily be, as they will always have their own interpretation of the work.

I’ve started recently to move towards punctuation and shorthand after reading the philosopher Jacques Derrida stating “there is nothing outside the text”. That phrase led me to explore the space around the text and also between the words. Also to read and research other alphabets, symbols, fonts and then onto shorthand (which I used when I was a PA in London).

For me, to use symbols, codes and punctuation marks evoke a kind of writing that doesn’t actually belong to any sort of language but are still within a visible system. The text is hidden or hinted at within a format instead of being exposed directly.

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