Since each of us was several, there was quite a crowd. Here we have made use of everything that came within range, what was closest as well as fartherest away. (Deleuze & Guattari, in the introduction to A Thousand Plateaus, 3)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Where am I?

I started this project in response to a call for abstracts for the next conference of the Textile Society of America, Textiles & Settlement: From Plains Space to Cyberspace. I saw this as an opportunity to investigate the quilt medium from a different angle.

I have chosen three quilts by three Australian quiltmakers: Love Will Nail You To The Cross (1995-1997) by Judy McDermott, The Lost Bird Series (2006) by Pamela Fitzsimons and, Reconfiguring The Wall (2006) by Emma Rowden.
Each of these quilts is associated with a specific site: 'Long Bay Gaol' (Sydney NSW), the Bow Wow Gorge (lower Hunter Valley, NSW) and, 'Callan Park Hospital for the Insane' (now, 'Sydney College for the Arts', Sydney NSW). For this study each quilt is also linked with a blog site: The Big House, About Time and, Reconfiguring The Wall. Three blogs which are are stand-alone but also linked to each other and to this, the original blog set up for this project.

Just as I have chosen specific quilts by three quiltmakers, I am focusing on Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari's theory of 'Smooth Space' outlined in their book, A Thousand Plateaus. Their theory prefigured but can also be used to describe the structure of the internet (boundless,without distinctions, blurs differences, rhizomatic, connective, open ended, generative).

Thus the use of the internet is also fundamental to this project. D & G use the patchwork quilt as an illustration of their theory of smooth space, so my question is not: does the structure of the quilt resemble smooth space? but can their ideas open up other spaces for conceptualizing the quilt and the processes of quiltmaking? And testing this through the use of the process of blogging.

I see myself not as objective observer but as an active participant in this project. It is for this reason I have framed the project in terms of 'performance': a 'frame' that is not fixed but shifts - more conversation than statement - just as this blog seeks to open up other connections rather than arrive at a definitive answer.

Images: (Top) Love Will Nail You To The Cross (1995-1997) photographer A Payne
               (Middle) The Lost Bird Series (2006) photographer D Barnes
               (Bottom) Reconfiguring The Wall (2006) Photographer E Rowden

Friday, May 7, 2010

So Be It

This morning I opened Robert Dessaix's book, Arabesques, (at random) and came across this quote on page 255:
...I've made up my mind to write at random. It's not an easy undertaking because the pen (it's a fountain pen) lags behind my thoughts. Now, it's vital not to foresee what one is about to say, that's true. But there is always a bit of play-acting in it..If I feel like contradicting myself, I shall without a qualm. I won't strive for 'coherence'. But I won't affect incoherence either. Hidden away beyond logic is a way of thinking that is more important to me at this point...I aim to amuse myself here...Perhaps at this age it's permissible to let oneself go a bit. Amen. (Which means, I believe: so be it!)
Andre Gide, on the first page of his last book,
So Be It or The Chips are Down. 
Siri Hustvedt explored this process in detail in her recent book, The Shaking Woman (she doesn't mention Andre Gide!) and I've come across it described by other writers too. I've tried it myself and it's not easy, my internal critic interrupts me again and again (I can only attempt it if I tell myself it's writing not to be read by anyone else, illogical but that's how it is).
I sense this process at work when I read Thousand Plateaus. perhaps I could call it in Deleuze & Guatarri's terminology: 'nomadic writing' (or perhaps 'haptic writing' but personally I like 'nomadic' better). And perhaps also when I read Helene Cixous --writing I love best to listen to.
Maybe it's the kind of writing that sits somewhere - in a space - between prose (what I keep trying to call writing-writing) and poetry. Mark Tredinnick calls a poem (in a recent essay on Robert Gray), "...a sculpture of meaningful sound. It's an architecture of voice".

Images: Top 'Haptic Writing #1 ' (SET 2010) 21x30cm handmade book with plant-dyed paper,
       Bottom 'Haptic Writing #2'