Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Awaited Weaver Arrives

The second poetry collection by Andy Weaver is finally available. Check it out here.

Friday, March 11, 2011

My Basement Blues

contra the diction is
the land wage
(when the water comes
--sea pun--you pay a



                                     (how you move from
                                      imperfection to imperfection in
                                      the world)

-- bpNichol, from "Inchoate Road"--

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Secret Influences 7: Sunrise with Sea Monsters

As much as my aesthetic allegiance belongs to the historical avant-garde, and to contemporary experimental art, there's still something that I find inspiring in the later work of J.M.W. Turner. I'm thinking particularly of the mid-1840s when he has left battle scenes and English landscapes behind to focus on elemental matters: light, weather, water, and mist. "Rain, Steam and Speed" (1844) is certainly a favourite for its anticipation of both Impressionism and Futurism, but it is the above piece, "Sunrise with Sea Monsters" (1845) that I am most often drawn to. As it's the only Turner piece that I am aware of that has a fantastical subject matter I wonder what he's attempting to do with the contrast between the title and the image. Is he being literal: that this is a painting of sea monsters? Or is he suggesting that the roiling sea creates a visual illusion of sea monsters when the sun rises? Are we meant to see two sea monsters (a pair of dolphin shaped creatures leaping above the water) or a single sea monster (the large central piscine face resting on the sea's surface)? Or both simultaneously? Moreover, is there a type of Magritte-like play between title, image, and viewer response? That is, do we only see sea monsters in this image because he has titled it so? I think it is this last issue that I find most intriguing, and this was one of the first paintings that alerted me to how ambiguous titling can shape aesthetic response and open up multiple readings, something that I was most involved with in my own poetics when writing Torontology, particularly in the sequences "The Variety of Efflorescence," "deClerambault's Syndrome," "5x4," "4x5," and "Prison Tattoos."