Thursday, November 16, 2006

New Jersey as an Impossible Object

Joe Milutis has an intriguing project in the works, an explication (a multiple rendering...) of William Carlos William's long poem, Paterson. Aside from the obvious, and yes, intriguing connection between Robert Smithson's work and William Carlos Williams work which is explored here, there is a kind of sonic exploration of the implications of the Williams text, and like Smithson, a gesture of making literal, or firm, the dimensionality of the text. Check out this sound file.

What I found interesting about this project is first of all, that it made me go back to Paterson which I hadn't read in a while, second that it made me cognizant of the difference in the way I perceive that text now, as opposed to my initial introduction, which was entirely without any geographic or cultural context, and finally, that it made me consider the difference in the way we might perceive the text now, so many decades later.

Our encounter with Williams' texts must be profoundly different than the attention with which they were created, or what he might have imagined possible. I wonder too about the different perceptions of geography and the intersections of human development which Williams must have existed in...what seismic shifts did he witness? How do we experience those now?

Isn't there a movement to make Paterson's Industrial district a national park? And why not. It is as much a part of America as anything else, and I for one think the process of reclamation and destruction is an interesting one to watch...but perhaps that is not what those wanting to make this area a park have in mind...

In any case, a great project. And it just enforced my thinking that the most successful texts must exist beyond the author's ability to control them in some way, that they must be fluid, collaborative, and unruly, and in this way morph and change as the world around them does, offering many levels of potential engagement and readings...and as Mr. Milutis shows us, multiple entry points and potential excavations.

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