One might argue that the primary goal of writing is to communicate with others. But writing, particularly writing by hand, can also serve as a meditative act – a practice that fosters slow, thoughtful contemplation. While it borders on nostalgia to think that these two functions were in perfect balance once-upon-a-time, it seems clear that the rise of digitally mediated communication has altered the nature of writing. In this fast-paced, keyboard-dominated, Internet communication culture, speed is of the essence.
A quick web search reveals that each day hundreds of hastily written blog entries begin with variations on the phrase “it’s been a while since I last wrote.” Invariably the authors then proceed to describe their busy lives and commit to publishing updates more frequently. Messages like these reveal not only a sense of obligation to communicate with a real (or imagined) online audience, but also point to the desire to slow down and take time to thoughtfully contemplate, record and make meaning from one’s daily experiences.
It’s Been A While Since I Last Wrote is a meditation on the often-competing desires for slow contemplative writing and fast-paced communicative writing. The installation, which is comprised of a 40” x 40” luminescent surface and an ultra-violet writing head controlled by two motors, continuously scrawls the phrase “It’s been a while since I last wrote” in a digitized version of the artist’s cursive. Disappearing almost as quickly as it is written, the phrase encapsulates the competing desires for speed and thoughtfulness.
Project Website: christopherbaker.net/projects/itsbeenawhile/
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