Drained words & Floating ink 

An Unknown Lover’s Discourse: Waveform I, 2018. Video still. 40:47 min. 

During a two-month artist residency at Alserkal Avenue in Dubai I revisited my 2015 thesis to develop the first iteration of An Unknown Lover’s Discourse and its presence as a research art project. The result was an exhibition of three components: works on paper, a video and a live audio performance conducted as a disembodied narrating voice in the exhibition space.

Scenes from the English and Arabic iterations of the Letter from an Unknown Woman films play behind a window that converts the image into a waveform. Acheived in the video editing software Final Cut, the video is a screen recording of this “waveform” vector in the application measuring the luminosity of the moving image in real time and its graphical representation. The movements on the waveform graph capture the slight, gestural movements of the characters with minute accuracy. The result is a viewing of the films through their luminosity and given the intensity of the process, the waveform window is slightly delayed creating a spectral imprint of what is happening behind it.  

︎ Full video

Floating ink, 2018, Water monoprint, suminagashi ink on paper.

Stefan Zweig’s Letter from an Unknown Woman, drained, 2018. Debossed prints on paper.

In an attempt to vent my own frustration with Zweig’s androcentric text imitating a woman’s frantic voice and subjectivity, these two works on paper operate in tandem as a quietly violent gesture. In Stefan Zweig’s Letter from an Unknown Woman, drained, the decompression of the words from pages of the translated novella are emptied of their ink but remain as craters of a permanent imprint. While in Floating Ink, the extracted ink is symbolically released into a body of water to become a sumingashi monoprint, freed of a lingusitic form of language to become something more liminal, spontaneous and ephemeral that cannot be repeated verbatim.

• • •

Related material:

Review: Sullivan, Isaac. Lives of Text, Canvas Nov/Dec, 2018