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Materia Secunda, text-as-image

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Abstract:

This article is an extension of the arguments and examples offered in ‘Materia Prima, text-as-image’ (Calvert 2012), where the materiality of language was foregrounded, rather than its transparent role in communication. The claims of neutrality to content in ‘The Crystal Goblet’, made by Beatrice Warde, alongside ideas from various philosophical sources were contrasted with the work of concrete poets, artists and designers, whose free play with materiality in language upsets those relatively uncomplicated notions of transparency to content. The current article proposes that in the next stage of this argument, we might think of the materiality of language in terms of a kind of ‘event’, or ‘constellation’, in which the raw materials of language (whether writing/typography/speech) are fully mobilized and enacted. This performative stage, which harnesses the dynamic attributes of language, is grounded by reference to Deleuze’s theory of the event, as well as Adorno and Benjamin’s notion of ‘constellation’. Katherine Hayles, VillĂ©m Flusser and others are used to support the contention that we might think of materiality and performativity/gesture in language as a form of content. Lyotard’s Discourse, Figure is invoked as a way to describe a different space of interaction between the textual and the figural, one where the distinction between them is erased. Examples from art/design/typography are offered to support these points.

Keywords: constellation; discourse; event; figure; language; materiality; performativity; plasticity; surface; transparency

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/btwo.1.2.139_1

Affiliations: Central St Martins College of Art and University of Westminster

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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  • Book 2.0 is a new, interdisciplinary peer-reviewed journal which aims to publish articles and reviews on developments in book creation and design, (including the latest progressions in technology and software affecting illustration, design and book production). It will also explore innovations in distribution, marketing and sales, and book consumption, and in the research, analysis and conservation of book-related professional practices. Book 2.0 aims to provide a forum for promoting and sharing the most original and progressive practice in the teaching of writing, illustration, book design and production, and publishing across all educational sectors.
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