School is My Savior aka Catholicism Will Never Be The Same

Well, I am well into the semester now.  I have to say it got off to a shaky start as I was unsure of how well I would be able to perform/succeed in my classes.  Now I’m all settled in and cozy and, much like Aerosmith screeches, “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing.”

One of the classes I’m taking Imagining Language, which is probably one of the best decisions I was ever encouraged to make.  The only criteria for our individual class project are:

1) There has to be a possibility for failure.
2) You have to be excited about it.
3) It has to be dysfunctional.
4) The viewer/audience/user has to have a stake in it in some way, be it through interaction or analysis.
5) It has to be something that you would never get a chance to do anywhere else.

The project I am working on definitely fits the criteria.  Inspired by the Humument, I decided to try and think about what language has had a deep effect on my in my life.  All I could think of was my childhood spent in Catholic schooling, and of the religion textbooks we used to read and complete activities in.  I remember being so terrified of the books, and taking them very seriously.  At the same time, a lot of the language in them is really beautiful.  So, for my project I am going to deconstruct (and reconstruct, on some pages), an 6th grade Catholic religion textbook – very similar to the one I actually had. This is the book I am working with. I am hoping to re-appropriate the language of the authority that defined almost my entire childhood.

Recently, after a lovely lunch with two very smart and creative people, I had the idea that I would ask other people to work on pages as well.  This way the book becomes one huge anonymous and varied experiment in language.  I also plan on videoing them as they interact with the text and then cut it all together for some kind of installation.  Some methods employed so far on the pages are: cutting out words on the pages to let the words from the pages after come through in the sentences, using the words that were cut out to answer various activity questions in the book, and painting on the pages and making poetry through the words that are not covered.

Last class I confessed to my professor that I am self-conscious about my painting skills to which he answered, “What century do you live in? Is that even possible anymore?” I love this class.

When I talk to people about this project, it always seems to get people’s attention.  I think I may host a deconstruction party.  If I do, maybe I will see you there!

10/25/2012 Update: What’s fascinating me right now is how strange and meaningless words seem to become when they’re repeated often.  Even the word, “word” starts to make you question just how “powerful” a language could possibly be when it just consists of arbitrary symbols slammed next to each other.  When it  comes to the actual execution of fiddling with the pages, I’ve been cutting out words to answer the activities.  From doing so, the content that ends up coming through the resultant holes of the paper can be oddly appropriate.  I’ve also been using acrylic paints and colored pens.  On the pictures below you may not be able to read the words easily, but I’m not going to take better pictures because the project is something I want people to experience in person.  Once it’s completed I will find a way to put it online…but then and only then!


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