Posts Tagged ‘Language’

The Right Frame of Mind

Now that we finally have a piece of work that resembles a full performance, we have been able to start considering other elements surrounding our work, such as, how an audience might view it and how we can archive what we are doing. We have attempted to do a couple of ‘dress runs’ of the performance, and this has opened up many new routes that we could take with the finished piece. So naturally, we shall continue to make adjustments to the piece before its final showing.

One question that came up after our preview was: How could we frame our work? The positioning of our piece is very important as we are representing everything that the library is inside, outside.In his book Site Specific Art, Nick Kaye states that “the ‘inside’ of the work is always already penetrated by the outside’ (Kaye 2000, p. 192), therefore choosing the right sort of frame for our work was vital in order to allow the audience to interpret the desired meaning of our piece. Having thought about this, we thought that the perfect place to perform our work would be in front of the construction site of the new extension of the library; after all we would then be deconstructing language in front of the construction of the place that is the centre of language. This could potentially create a very strong image to an audience. In his book Site Specific Art, Nick Kaye states that “the ‘inside’ of the work is always already penetrated by the outside’ (Kaye 2000, p. 192), therefore choosing the right sort of frame for our work was vital in order to allow the audience to interpret the desired meaning of our piece.

Secondly, we began to think about what we could do to “fill the gaps” between our individual readings. This led us to create motifs that were relevant to our personal ‘language breakers’. For example, I am using French to break down the library list, so after my performance I will kiss each individual piece of card that I am holding. This is because if someone were to say the term ‘French kiss’, it would conjure up the typical image that most people have of this phrase, however I am breaking this down by giving each piece of card that has French writing on it a single kiss, therefore challenging the semiotics surrounding the term. Another example is that Hannah holding the book in various different ways. This is to demonstrate the fact that we talk about being able to hold a book in an infinite number of ways, but once again we are unable to truly demonstrate what infinity is, being only human.

Lastly, we decided that we would like to archive our work, and show the progression over the four performances. This is where the idea of the pieces of card that we have written our lists on comes in. We decided that, rather than simply read off A4 pieces of paper on a clip board, we would hand write our lists on small rectangular pieces of cards. The thought process behind this was that when we went to the library in Lincoln town centre, they had thousands and thousands of pieces of card with all their records on archived at the back of the building. This made us think how fantastic it would be to mimic this by creating our own record of our performance, with the pieces of card all marked in our individual way. It would really tie the library into our performance.

The plan now is to do one last run through of our piece before the official performance dates, in order to receive yet more feed back. Hopefully we can create something that people will be able to look back on as part of the library’s history.

Works Cited

Kaye, Nick (2000) Site-specific Art, London and New York: Routledge

Posted: April 28th, 2013
Categories: Library, Taking the Library Outside
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Taking the Library Outside

After sitting down with my group, I had come to the final decision of taking the library outside. I initially thought of looking for negative spaces within the library, such as, the aisles, under the stairs and the group rooms. I then looked at artist that also search for negative space, I then found work by Rachel Whiteread.

‘Artist Rachel Whiteread‘s sculptures bring to the foreground a concept of space we aren’t always aware of. Working to take negative space and make it a tangible reality, Whiteread uses her sculptures in order to physically define what surrounds objects. Through these sculptures, Whiteread explores ideas of absence, memory, and architecture, revealing the space we cannot define.’ (Chadason 2012)

I then thought about outside of the library and how it could be considered a performance space. Peter Brooks says ‘I can take any empty space and call it bare stage‘ (Govan, Nicholson and Normion 2007, p. 10), from this I thought that we as a group could use the space outside the library and use it as a performance space. I also researched the ways in which a space, place or build had effect on its visitors. Falling in a certain behaviour given the type of place it is, such as, “places” that are rich in history and “non-places”  that are soulless and are only created for functional purposes, such as, airports, motorways and the library in this case. For instance, the idea that some places are distinguished and understood as a place where specific behaviours are suitable.

‘According to one of the pioneers of such research, Rodger Bakrer, a behaviour setting is a bounded space that is constructed and defined through two sets of components, ‘psychological’ and ‘non-psychological’’.(Holloway & Hubbard, 2001 p. 56)

We then look at the building as one big system and people becoming a part of that system.

  • We go for look for books.
  • Take the book out.
  • Reading the book in library or take it home.
  • Finally returning the book.

From this we wanted to toy with the idea of breaking that system. Together we first decided to take the books outside the library and read them, but this seemed too distant from our ideas and wouldn’t attract the attention of the public in the way that we wanted to. We continued to develop and research this idea and began to look at the books and what we could do with them to create a piece of performance art. I thought about the library and that words are a massive part of it. I started to think what was done to the words within the library, well they can be spoken, read in one’s head to oneself and mostly written and used for academic purposes. Thinking about the words being spoken and the language within those books, I then thought about the language and conversations outside of the library and more than often enough how that can be broken and crumble. After deciding to focus on language, we looked at books within the library that had language in the title. This opened a lot of thoughts and ideas.

  • Foreign language
  • Sign language
  • Breakdown of language.

After finalising our idea of looking at language we met with our tutor and discussed our new idea. We then showed him the list of call numbers and titles of the books we were thinking of looking at, he then suggested that we should keep our first performance simple and maybe just read the list off the paper outside the library doors. Once the list was finished our tutor said that there was something quite aesthetically pleasing about how it looked and reads.

Our next step in the process was to actually get the performance up on its feet. I volunteered to be the person that reads the list. For this we took a stool from the library and placed it in front of the library doors. We initially wanted to use a megaphone for the piece, but due to the lack of time to source one we use and microphone and an amp, which actually worked better than what we thought it would .


Taken by Beth Sutch, Thursday 7th March 2013, Lincoln Library.

For the actual performance I stood on the stool holding the list. I then began to read from the list whilst a small audience from the class stood and watched. A few people that passed by stop for a moment to see what was being said. I even noticed that when I was reading, people that were passing we reluctant to walk in front of me and actually walk around the back of me. The performance only lasted for about 2-3 minutes as we only wanted to experiment with the idea and to see if it actually looked work as a piece.


Taken by Hannah Louise Watson, Thursday 7th March 2013, Lincoln Library.

Our next step is to develop and shape the piece to fit with the idea of language breaking down. The feedback we got from the performance was to look at different ways in which we can show this. We have come up with a few ideas that can occur in day-to-day conversations such as:

  • Coughing.
  • Sneezing.
  • Breaking into song
  • Long pauses.
  • Stutter.

After developing our ideas further and researching the work of artist that we can relate to with our piece at the moment, we are looking to putting all of this together for the next performance and see what can be added, changed and developed from that.


Chadason, Kathryn (2012) (Accessed: 10.05.12).

Govan, Emma and Nicholson, Helen and Normington, Katie (2007) Making a Performance: The place of the Artist, USA and Canada: Routledge.

Holloway, Lewis and Hubbard, Phil (2001) People and Place The Extraordinary Geographies of Everyday Life: Behaviour in Place, Harlow: Prentice Hall/Pearson Education.

Experimentation and Initial Ideas






Language is playing an important part and has done since reading ‘The Library of Babel’1.  At present, it is represented solely through the action of typing.  The lettered keys on a computer creating that word to add to language and never ending knowledge.

‘a true sign language is a genuine human language [and] can convey anything that can be expressed in a spoken language…’2.

1st Tryout ((Cox 2013)) : (

2nd Tryout ((Cox 2013)) : (


*Experiment further with rhythm and pace*Language created in movement*Canonised, subtle movements versus synchronised, sharper actions*Discover content – essential to meaning*Involve drawing/writing from memory as experienced in the moment, experimenting with drawing as a form of language*Books heaped onto desks, looking at breakdown of language*Use a range of technological devices*Development of content essential to support image.  Needs to be informative to be engaging.

As I began to recognise the pattern on the podcast, the more my mind began to wander.  I wanted to write a story with words such as ‘beginning’ and writing simple sentences such as ‘My name is Natasha’ cropping up.  It was almost like going back to basics, starting again, asking the question, for example ‘where do we learn to type?’ How has technology helped enhance our learning of language, helping us to expand our knowledge?

We then tried to base the performance on something contextually solid.  A Book.  Full of ideas, history and key figures, but which book?  The Book.  The Bible.  Translated into different languages and filled with codes and numbers, there is at least one Bible in every library; the core of belief and the beginning of language.  Babel is taken from Genesis.  Is there a way we could do something with the story of Genesis?  Or for that matter, The Book of Numbers, especially when speaking of codes?

Word Count: 311

Works Cited (in footnote order):

(1)    Borges, Jorge Luis (1998) “The Library of Babel”, The Garden of Forking Paths, trans. Andrew Hurley, New York: Penguin, p.112.

(2)    Trask, R.I (1999) Language: The Basics, 2nd edn, London: Routledge, pp.19-20.

(3)    Cox, Emily (2013) Blindfolded Performance/The Library of Babel, dir. Emily Cox, Online:  (accessed 16 February 2013).

(4)    Cox, Emily (2013) Blindfolded Performance 2, dir. Emily Cox, Online: (accessed 16 February 2013).

  1. Borges 1998, p.112 []
  2. Trask 1999, pp.19-20 []
Posted: February 7th, 2013
Categories: Les dames des livres, Library
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Discovering Language






100 Languages from 100 Countries = Infinite knowledge

“The Library of Babel” has an identical twin!  Babbel – ‘the new way to learn a foreign language’, an internet site for discovering and learning languages online.  Books to the computer.  The library houses both.  Language is not only spoken, but written and read.  Can we find the difference between varying forms of language?  If so, is it measurable and how?

Babel =the creation of one language.

I initially wrote down countries from memory and when I had written as much as I could, I resorted to the internet.  When the countries were complete, I then looked at the word to see if it conjured a particular image in my head that reminded me of the country in which that language is spoken.  If not, I read the word aloud.  If that failed, I typed the country into the internet, looked at a picture and I used the word that came into my head to describe that country.  Appearances.

It was also interesting to observe my own change in opinion of the languages in the space of four hours.  It could be interesting to document a performance around changes in language, what we expect from a language and how that expectation is reversed.  For Tim Etchells, the Artistic Director of Forced Entertainment, these (instabilities, changes in opinion) ‘are the only certainties worth clinging to’1 as it shows the workings of the mind that is the cog for progression and development in learning.  The joining of fragments of language, everything created making sense over time.  Infinity.

Word Count: 271

Works Cited:

Etchells, Tim (1999) Certain Fragments: Contemporary Performance and Forced Entertainment, Oxon and USA: Routledge, p.23.

  1. Etchells 1999 p. 23 []
Posted: January 29th, 2013
Categories: Borges, Early Research, Les dames des livres, Library
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