This installation was included in "Postconceptualism: The Malleable Object," an exhibit that I curated for the University of Maryland's Stamp Gallery, and continues my exploration of participatory art through spectator interaction. My installation site was conceived as both a literal and contextual stage where a "real time" experience of art might be accessed through memory and initiated through action. This opening night performance began with poet Casey Smith reading his "found poetry" aloud as I, fellow artists and many of my art students, attempted a simultaneous transcription of his words on prepared blackboard panels. The resulting fragmentation of text, abstracted by the challenge of capturing Smith's live reading, was further elided by the removal of the masking tape.
The installation site was then activated through participation as the audience was invited to decipher the text with the provided chalk. The audience tried to complete the now “bisected words” of the poetry they heard read aloud only moments before. It is this “play” with text that literalizes our engagement with this work as a “work of art,” even as the process of deciphering demonstrates the fragility of language. To address the public as more than a passive bystanders and to move them to an assertive state of engagement with art is the essential goal of my current practice.
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