dreams

HIEROGLYPHIC SILENCE

In September, I spent two weeks at Wells College as a scholar in residence at the invitation of the Wells Book Arts Center and String Room Gallery.

Detail of Hieroglyphic Silence I,  letterpress, 2017

Detail of Hieroglyphic Silence I, letterpress, 2017

The Wells Book Arts Center, housed in a classic college building with oversize doors and stone architectural details is a beautiful place to work. I had a studio room to myself with a Universal I Vandercook press. Cayuga Lake is just across the road. The letterpress studio holds a large collection of vintage and rare foundry type which I decided to utilize for a series of new prints in the vein of Small Fires. Poking around the drawers, I found one marked "Egyptian" and saw it was a selection of tiny Egyptian revival borders and ornaments, including two tiny Gardiner style icons, one of a bird, and one of a seated mummy.

Hieroglyphic Silence I , letterpress, 2017

Hieroglyphic Silence I, letterpress, 2017

I'd just reread Egyptologist and author Susan Brind Morrow's The Dawning Moon of the Mind, a poetic analysis of The Pyramid Texts and was thinking about her straightforward description of hieroglyphics as pictures that are letters and pictures that are pictures. They are both pictographic and phonetic. They are to be read individually to spell out words but also together in associated groupings to add important context and specificity to their meaning.

Detail of Hieroglyphic Silence II , letterpress, 2017

Detail of Hieroglyphic Silence II, letterpress, 2017

I'd also been thinking about this in relation to William S Burroughs thoughts on language as a method of control.  He believed in order to break the control, one had to rub out the word. Nullify it. Find hieroglyphic silence.

Hieroglyphic Silence II,  letterpress, 2017

Hieroglyphic Silence II, letterpress, 2017

Isn't it interesting that the Ancient Egyptian language of silences omits vowels from it's written form? And what is a language that cannot be read, if not pictures that are letters and pictures that are pictures?

I keep returning to Burroughs and Egypt in my thoughts. It is a conversation. I've felt an affinity to both for many years. Burroughs believed in dreams and I believe in dreams. Silent films removed from time. Burroughs dreamed of Egypt and I dream of Egypt. Crocodiles in mud. Crouched in a marsh, holding a frantic dog by the neck. Even a waking dream once, the sound of trickling water and the heat of an early morning sun on my face.

I once had a dream of standing behind him, very old and wearing his hat, before a very large book. My hand over his. Running our fingers over the words on the pages.

 

Recent Dreams


Recent Dreams:

Two blond women in a narrow walkway space outside of an office building. Beautiful late afternoon winter light. One is nude, sitting atop a stuffed gray goose that is being dragged around the space by the other. They say to me, "We make art in sad places." "We are making difficult art."

Standing next to an old and frail William Burroughs, we are reading a book together that looks like an oversized dictionary. I am holding his wrist as he moves his hand across the words on the page. He is wearing a suit and hat. A piece of text about dusty and decayed wooden window shutters. Maybe the first time I can remember looking at words and reading them in a dream.

My Education

I fell asleep on my couch this afternoon and I dreamt that an older man sang me a song. He sang it in a very cheerful way and I remembered both the lyrics and the melody when I woke up, the lyrics were "She told me not to be afraid, but I am not afraid of the future." I have been thinking a lot of about dreams lately and also about oracles, and the cryptic nature of their utterances.

The dream also made me a recall a memory from childhood. I used to write songs on the piano. I brought a piece of sheet music with a song I had written to a party hosted by my parent's friends. There was a piano at the party and a musician, she said she would like to see my composition and would play it for me on the piano. But I didn't really understand musical notation, and the song came out odd and dissonant, like a piece of experimental modern music. I hadn't written any of the notes correctly. 

So much of my art has come from misunderstandings. These misunderstandings are a gift. Like dreams, they are glimpses at the oracle, and these little confusions end up being more profound than the intended message.

 :: My Education, William S. Burroughs ::

House






A dream I've had several times.  I live in a little house inside of a community garden. In the dream, the garden is in a park near a river where I grew up and the setting is always a warm and humid summer evening with crickets singing. There is industry nearby, old abandoned factories and junkyards but the park is quiet and the garden is down a long dirt road. A few other people have chosen to live in the garden. The house is small and rustic with robin's egg walls. It's a very nice house, except the hallway to the kitchen is too narrow for a person to pass through.



I was standing in a wet marsh and I was with a medium brown dog. It was revealed that the dog's true name was Horus. When he heard his real name, the dog grew in size and became immensely strong. I remember holding him around the neck and chest trying to calm his shaking fear.

Mushrooms growing in peach pits. A primordial toothed and legged serpent guarding them, silhouette recessed in the mud.

This one is tied with the left hand.

Alum Aleut.




:: 




I Dreamt

"In my dream, I see these fantastic paintings that were done by
somebody else. And I wish that I had painted them. And I wake up, and
after a while the impression wears off. I say, wait a minute, those
are my paintings. I dreamt them; they're mine. Then I can't remember
what they were." - David Lynch



I've started working on a new artist's book that's been in my head for a long time. A book of dreams. Dreams I've told to other people or written down in notebooks. Some of these dreams are from my childhood, some very recent. 

I set a sample of text yesterday in 8 pt Garamond Italic from my type collection and printed it on Japanese style paper. Tiny and delicate. I like that. It's just the beginning. We'll see how it all turns out.

:: 8 pt Garamond Italic ::

 :: I dreamt... ::


How to print ghosts.


I dreamt we were printing ghosts. The press was found in a forgotten room, silent and damp. It took two of us to start the old machine, turning and turning until momentum lifted the heavy wood handle from our hands. Hidden mechanisms slid over cool burnished stone and silhouettes curled upwards into the air like burning paper. Colorless sendings, their mouths open with surprise at their own animation. I saw them drift and break like bubbles.

The Giant Wave of Fog



:: altered image from a glass plate negative by Huldra Press ::

Last night, I dreamt about a giant wave of fog, as tall as a mountain, rising up and up until it curled and fell onto everyone below. I remember saying, "here it comes," and we all held our breath and closed our eyes, as if it would crush us, but instead, it blew over us, for many minutes, and then it was gone.

It was strange and lovely image, and I'll be thinking about it for some time.