I can hardly express my surprise and delight at the work posted to the FaceBook Concrete Formalist Poetry site lately. Or, I can, but I am unaccustomed to feelings of surprise and delight in the poetic/visual arts arena, or such as feel personal to me. So I will say, simply, thank you all, friends, for your informed, diverse, technically adept, visually arresting work. It inspires me to re-form my definitions or profile for this site, which reflects my initial long-incubating, hard-won formulation.
From a site dedicated to "poetry with a strong visual element," we now have "visual poetry with a strong formal element" - but formal, here, in terms of the visual, is conditioned by language. Or, as I see it, by notions of vocabulary. I see a lot of this work lately, strong, diverse visual work that shows the conditions and evidence of vocabulary formation and "language" (perhaps poetry. why not). Some hallmarks include the outlines of asemic (or Language/Visual) practices, such as the deconstruction of words, letters, numbers, and punctuation, to produce a strong visual effect. Other practices are evident. I hardly can name them all or even need to, I think.
I find this work inspiring in many way. I believe that it is work that informs and accelerates ones personal or artistic or poetic view of the world, in all its social and ethical (and artistic) multiplicity. I posted a photo the other day of children in a park, sparked by the arrangement of bodies, the range of expressions: it seemed to me to be a kind of asemic photograph. An image where the play and relationship of formalities was cogently, passionately evident. And I find myself inclined toward almost perceiving such arrangements all around me. Almost, because the impressions are so very fleeting. And saying me, I mean us; or, this work everywhere if we only are capable of viewing it as such.
We find ourselves involved so much lately, these past several years, certainly, with questions and issues of a largely social and ethical nature, while form and formations play out, with meaning. Some are more apparent as forms than others. Some require the artist or photographer's efforts in rendering a piece of art that freezes the moment in order for us to see it.
What does all this mean?
For one thing, I am interested in what it might mean, that artists are producing their own vocabularies, or building vocabularies. I won't say a "personal" vocabulary, because nothing could be further from the truth of the evidence I have seen. But, clearly, in lieu of notional, direct, immediate and "unique" pictorial events, or such statements as we are accustomed to, that proffer explanations of purpose or intent that accompany such work, this work is suggest both signature and purpose. It is intensely ethical in its grounding in or acceptance of time: that these pieces are not isolated. We have a perfect synthesis of agent and opportunity in the medium of FaceBook. In base terms, I never know what's next with these folks, though I feel sure it will build upon or relate immediately to, in some formally, alphabetical manner, what has come before.
More broadly speaking, philosophically/ethically, to see more, is to make oneself available to know more, and to be better, as an artist, poet, human being, in the midst of all this work. I am interested at what is done; I am concerned for those who do it. Art is not an inanimate deposit, the shell of the egg, the falling leaf. Merely (even if purportedly) allusive. All this stuff matters because we matter. No further explanation is necessary except to note, that this time will go on. There is no turning back from knowing what is common, key to all.