Text, Beat, Journal by Tod Davis
writing on the group exhibition Text, Beat, Journal, Open Space, Victoria
Words are trouble
Art as text
As a writer you absorb everything around you, and as your reality changes, so does your language. To illuminate these reality shifts, language is utilized, modified, manipulated and shaped in expression and development of ideas. This basic description of written communication: the methodology of utilization of individual agreed upon marks, letters and words, to portray ideas. We see this format management everywhere  especially as a development of advertising in the public realm over the past fifty years. The claim that these works make, in their striving for maximum impact and immediacy are adverts for themselves. The words start and end with the individual work, extracting immediate notions and ideas for the viewer. And the notion of ‘visual immediacy’ and ‘social commentary’ remains the two primary attributes in unifying the works in this exhibition.
The absorption/change formula noted in terms of writers is pretty much the same thing for artists. And when you combine the two roles, artist and writer, as have Kirtley Jarvis, Les Newman and Dan Painchaud continue to do in their work, then you can almost guarantee that a ‘reality’ shift is in the offing. Text, beat, journal is an exhibition of works that focus on words rather than visual images. Words in visual art have been a tradition through history, enhancing and at times replacing pictograms and iconic imagery, rising to the level in contemporary art where they are now an alternative to images, still retaining intent portrayed in the artist’s concepts.
Text has become a powerful tool for the contemporary artists to exploit in there work. It engages the viewer on another level, namely it invites the viewer to read the work, and once this has been achieved there is an instamatic desire for the viewer to search for meaning. It is every artists intention to engage the viewers mind within the concepts and parameters of their work’s intentions, text can be the visual to do just that.
These works are text-seen, as distinct from text-print and text sound, which is to say that texts must be seen and thus visualized to be “read, “ in contrast to those that must be printed and heard . The term “text-seen” characterizes language whose principal means of coherence is words, portraying syntax or semantics – and create their own coherence through denotative and connotative methods.
The art in text, beat, journal is text-seen, rather than seen-text, to acknowledge the initial presence of a text, which is subject to visual enhancements and individual manipulations by each artist. Kirtley Jarvis with her hand-sewn utilizing thread, metal and other materials; Les Newman graphically inserting text and drawn imagery in cartoon ‘thought bubbles’; Dan Painchaud writing in cursive across found materials, here primarily plywood and pallets.
A text-seen (or “visual poetry”) is an intermedium located between language arts and visual arts, its creators include artists who initially established themselves as “writers,””poets’” and “painters” in their text-seen works out of a commitment to exploring possibilities in literary intermedia.
Art as Social Comment.
The beauty of contemporary art and the new boundaries it has extended for itself is that the possibilities for using art as a form of ‘social comment’ have expanded. Text, beat, journal presents work of three visually intelligent individuals who perceptions of the world around them are enhanced through text statements to comment on social issues. Issues such as: Alzheimer’s syndrome, pollution, patriarchy, mental stability, other individuals, art, poetry and others are illuminated in short statements which stand on the surfaces each has chosen as a backing.
Social commentary is another pastime of writers and artists throughout history. In text, beat, journal we have ‘worded information’ which utilizes the magnifying glass of this commentary style for an end to a means, but filters it through humour and sadness, frustration and fortune, exploration and communication, dreams and reality.
 For discussion sake, I accept the development of literature throughout history and prefer not to enter into the notions concerning the creation of alphabets, words, language and printed word as literature. Although poetry is a basis for the words of all three artists.
 An example of text-sound can be found in the Open Space Vertical gallery located in the foyer. Chris Baker’s “Argument Machine” is an artwork in which the text is ‘sounded’, and thus heard. To be precise, it is a non-melodic auditory structure that utilizes language or verbal sounds which are poetically charged with meanings or resonances. The most appropriate generic term for the production would be “vocables”.