Friday, October 26, 2012

Filling space

TEXT is art, words, symbols, code. It is the object, the artefact, that contains the communication. Manuscript books or fragments, in their entirety, are examples of TEXT and the object of study (obviously) of Text Technologies. More provocatively, perhaps, bodies carrying tattoos--whether Maori tattoo, or celebritized longitude/latitude patterns--might be examples of TEXT; in this case, code which signifies either something particular to the person or, more broadly to a social group. To fill the space of the skin with tattoo is to participate in textual production that was, until recently, considered subversive. The intelligibility of tattoo depends on the wearer's decision about how public they want their body text to be. Some seem semantically transparent:

And others require significant interpretative work on the part of the onlooker:

Akin to tattoo in its intentional subversiveness is graffiti. Hidden beneath the swirls and curls of the tagged letters is the name of the graffiti artist ('artist'?), exclusive to those in the know:

And here, again, space is filled by a deliberately obfuscatory message, a text technology where the entire context provides textness; where the precise location and substrate are key to the type of communication being imparted; and where it's usually singularly important not to be able to read the text.