DAVID PRICE: What sort of film, pt… 6 Aspects of authorship


Image from ‘What sort of film pt. 6 – Aspects of Authorship’ (2016). Courtesy of David Price

(And aspects of alliteration.


Writing in The Field of Expanded Illusions. This is the very beginning of a paper, a text, a piece of writing, and the contribution to a conference.[2] The subject is art, technology, and more precisely the present, technological age. Which, in its (effect? Incursion? Influence? Corruption? Assistance?) on the medium of writing, is one of a perpetual[3] kaleidoscoping of references, ‘distractions’ (I don’t believe in distractions). The medium is subject to expanding illusions about what constitutes the act of writing. This is writing; but it is also film-making, literally speaking. Not literally speaking; there is no film.[4] Metaphorically speaking?

The act of writing is occurring, for the purpose (?) of the production of a video.

(A lover’s discourse)

(Its punchline – the joke isn’t funny)

This text, the one being written (and recorded, watched, read…) is about another text, one that is also written in the course of another video work.

Written in a scroll, without notional pages.

That other text was written in the course of producing the elements for a video… the text is a recording of the process of writing, not the medium of writing.[5]

So is this text.

As you can see, I’m not rehearsing this text.

As you can also see, I’m not editing it.[6]

I am writing it.[7]

Also like a scroll, it has loose ends.[8]

I will make sure that the other text and its writing process appear in/on/about this process.

(Part of the furniture of the modern mind. The modern mine? My mind.

281 words. Still a little while to go.

Friday the 1st of April.

And now: Wednesday the 3rd of May. Not such a funny date. And this edit is being made on an unlucky date.

Some corrections first.)

Back to the other text for a moment: the less formal one.

The less formal text mentioned a moment ago now has a title: Pause, Paws, Pores. It forms a pamphlet, of 20 pages. It is full of alliterations.

The introduction has finished now. So, now what should come is the main body of the text, its corpus.

I was thinking about some incredibly formal ways of structuring this text, thinking of the stages of Derrida’s Archive Fever.[9] Preambles, theses, and so on. But it isn’t necessary here. The act of writing is what this ‘work’ implicates, not the form or structure of the printed word. Not the book-object, what Broodthaers calls ‘… the object that fascinates me, since it is for me the object of a prohibition’.[10] Instead, this is a text opened up widely.

The act of writing is (despite being punctive, key press by key press, letter by letter) an ongoing, flowing, stuttering chain of thought, vision, distraction, focus… this is how technology intervenes.

Or, this is what technology gives the writer the chance of unconcealing, to take a Heideggerian term.[11]

‘Dissembling concealment’! I used parts of Heidegger’s Parmenides [12] when I wrote my dissertation[13] at the end of my first degree in art (I may have used it naively, or mis-used it; I wasn’t trained in philosophy at all). That dissertation was about the idea of emptiness, and the space of ‘the clearing’. The dissertation led up to (but wasn’t really about) a discussion of the death poem of Basho:

(I can remember this, at least in the translation I used)

On a journey, ill.
My dream goes wandering
over withered fields

Have I mis-remembered it?

The medium is subject to expanding illusions about what constitutes the act of writing.

This afternoon I sat down at a library desk with 2 texts from the year of my birth – 1982. They were the catalogue of Documenta 7, and a text on writing by Johanna Drucker.

In the Documenta archive website text a nice phrase is used to describe the work by Marcel Broodthaers that was shown (Decors, amongst others) and the Hans Haacke ‘tribute'[14] to Broodthaers:

“Past and present become fictions that influence each other reciprocally” (Bazon Brock).

This also seems to describe the expanded text that’s produced by revealing the writing process. Or perhaps this is the truth of writing, of producing a ‘finished text’. A monolith of text is presented, with a beginning and an end. But past and present, the narrative of the ideas’ backgrounds and geneses on the one hand and the editing and manipulation of the ideas on the other, are present and active in this monolith. But, their actions are concealed, smoothed away in the ‘finishing’ of the text. The current text, by that token, is unfinished, and active.

The Documenta catalogue also introduced me to the work of John Knight – I’d never even heard of him before. Perhaps that is another story.

The Johanna Drucker text from 1982 is called ‘Electronic Media and the Status of Writing’. It imagines what might happen to writing were it subjected to tools[15] such as this, and indeed thoughts such as these.

(I’m tired. I’ll stop for now, and continue again soon.

Friday the 13th, 2016.

The next morning.)

This text suddenly seems to be like another; to have taken the form of diary documents. I tend to have one such diary document for each of the books (or book-like things) I’ve written.

One of these was turned into a book of its own. A secret book (there are only a few copies printed, each of which have been surreptitiously put on the shelves of a few bookshops in a few cities… London, Paris, New York,[16] Antwerp…)

(April Fools’ day, 2 years ago. Hmmm.

Anyway: back to business.)

I was thinking about the various texts I’d looked at yesterday, published the year I was born.

The Johanna Drucker book in question is Figuring the Word, a collection of her writings on the subject of language, and the materiality of writing.
In 1982, thinking about how electronic media might effect the way writing exists, in a broad sense, she begins by thinking about those parts of writing that are ‘disembodied text of pure information’, and that which is ‘ceremonial’; material, that which is subject to ‘the vulnerability of the written document to change and record change such that it functions in a historical context’.

From the perspective of 1982, she seems concerned that electronic media forms a ‘pact… in the dark swift space of seconds’ that would preclude electronic writing from fulfilling the ‘ritualistic functions of an act in which text is made by context, full, replete, complex.’

In short, that ‘an electronic document contains no palimpsetic layering’.

34 years later, it seems, this is not true. This document, presented to you, the ‘reader’ (the viewer, the audience) is perhaps overly replete on the palimpsetic plane.[17]

I wish I had in front of me the Documenta 7 catalogue, so I could quote from the short Art & Language text it reproduces (a text in which Charles Harrison speaks for/as them). But it was to do with (of course), what we might conveniently[18] call the ‘palimpsetic layering’ of the Art & Language paintings of the late 70s, moving into the 80s. Images such as the painting in which Lenin appears in the style of Pollock. So many layers of history, art history, mark-making processes, agreements and disagreements about the void left after the death of Greenbergian modernism, the agreement to continue anyway, the desire on the part of the artists that the viewer might entertain this continuation… and so on and so on. The palimpsetic, discursive plane.

Again, from Brock, to reiterate the words: ‘Past and present become fictions that influence each other reciprocally.’

A note, thinking about Johanna Drucker again: my occasional collaborator Andy Roche and I made a film work that included her as one of its (many) references. The film was called:

Shadow Self Soul Murder/Sweet Dreams of Johanna/Chandell/Harry/Data/Lore

Quite a complicated title. Modernism, post-modernism, sets of twins, correspondence between friends, correspondence between collaborators…

But this film used our handwriting, which had passed through many many layers of digital treatment.

Our letters. We always sign our films with our handwritten names and titles. I think this comes from Bas Jan Ader, although we’ve never discussed this as far as I can remember.

This text has now digressed. I might stop now, and perhaps go over the text later on, with fewer expanded illusions; perhaps make it more normal. Or perhaps not: perhaps it will remain as a film, a hybrid text, a text-of-its-own-writing.

For the record: electronic documents do contain their own layering, their own folds: ‘chaos does not exist; it is an abstraction because it is inseparable from a screen that makes something – something rather than nothing – emerge from it.'[19]


David E. Price


[1]   Some thoughts to the side appear justified to the right, some in footnotes, and some just appear.

[2]   I’m not sure if it is a conference, per se.

[3]   I’d written ‘perpectual’ by mistake. Or was it ‘perceptual’?

[4]   Not materially speaking.

[5]   This text, of course, investigates the difference by pointing the difference out. But its investigation is a loose, gentle enquiry – laying out the pieces rather than playing the game, perhaps.

[6]   Although I am now.

[7]   I, the eye (I, of course) editing, is also reading it.

[8]   Frayed ends, perhaps, rather than loose.

[9]   Or ‘Archive Ache’, if one likes.

[10]   Rachel Haidu takes this quote in the final part of her book on Broodthaers; reflecting all the way back to the copies of Pense-Betes encased in plaster. She then jumps forward to his final ‘conquest’, his battle of Waterloo…

[11]   Or turn.

[12]   A book with an even more complicated chapter structure than Mal d’Archive… every part having its own ‘recapitulation’.

[13]   At this time of year, nowadays, I read and mark the dissertations of students the same age I was when I struggled with the Parminedes…

[14]   Anti-monument? Ventriloquial-monument?

[15]   I’d written ‘tolls’ by mistake here.

[16]   I’m wondering if this copy actually found its way there… ?

[17]   Is a ‘palimpsetic plane’ an oxymoron?

[18]   I can never spell this word correctly.

[19]   Deleuze, The Fold…

This text was produced during the video What sort of film pt. 6 – Aspects of Authorship (2016) by artist David Price. The work will be exhibited for the first time in the occasion of the think tank Media in the Expanded Field at Casa Wabi Foundation, in July 2016.


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