Justine Giles, 2013-2014. I wrote this in a language I can’t read (detail). [Cut-out and graphite on vellum, 594 x 841mm]
In July I started experimenting with the idea of writing as a form of drawing. Since then I have become more and more interested in the functions of the left and right hemispheres of the brain and what they mean in terms of art making. The left hemisphere, which controls the right hand (my dominant hand) is a linear thinker, this is the part of the brain where language is stored, and it is also the part of the brain that is utilised in writing the alphabet. The right side of the brain is often associated with creativity and a more holistic understanding of the world. The right side of the brain is more associated with art. In looking at text as a drawing process, I realised that it became a very interesting question of which part of the brain is in control. When drawing the English writing I was trying to pay attention to the forms of the letters over the words and the meanings, but in the process I would slip between the two modes of understanding, sometimes breaking out of the characteristic almost meditative mood that takes over when I am drawing. I began to think about the watercolour I did that incorporated German written in a child’s hand. Because I don’t understand German, it occurred to me that this was more like drawing, however to push it further still I knew that the next step must be to draw a language where even the letters are a mystery to me.
The above work, written in Farsi and translated by a friend, reads “I wrote this in a language I can’t read” or at least that is what I believe it to say. It talks about Trace in the faint graphite gridlines used to create the pattern of the letters, as well as graphite on the wall that is seen through the cut lines, and more faintly through the slightly translucent paper. This work also experiments with the idea of both additive and reductive marks (drawing and cutting). It is about the hemispheres of the brain, of tricking the right into believing that these are just beautiful lines, and frustrating the left in its quest to make sense of the language.
It is about not knowing, and never having known (as opposed to remembering and forgetting).
Justine Giles, 2014. Prefigurements. [Ink and ballpoint pen on detail paper, 420 x 594 mm]
These handwritten book dedication pages are fascinating to me. The combination of printed words and personal messages inscribed, create something unique. There are many books in a print run, but as soon as someone alters it with the addition of their own handwritten text, there is only one just like this. These works are representations removed from their original context (as part of a book) and original scale, but painstakingly copied to the pressure of the handwritten line. This communication was meant for one person, but in the process of leaving the possession of the recipient, they are now messages dislodged from their purpose, outdated.
In the absence of the book, these become representations of a transaction between people.