Glitch Commons

As I proceed to write my texts in response to my photo series, starting with the latest photo taken back to the first in May, the texts’ writing dates and the origin dates of the photographs will draw further and further apart from one another. Metaphorically, they create a sort of distance and whole new space distinct from one another, what I call the Glitch Commons.  I think this is important work – to pull apart the two so that we can more properly see how they are the same and perhaps more of what is possibly within.

Me and This is an Abstract

As a noun, an abstract is the summary of the contents of a book, article or formal speech (Oxford, Feb 19, 2022), and this blog. It is the starting point for entering academic writing, a summative text. Oxford’s online Learner’s Dictionary goes on to say that as a verb, it is the action of extracting or removing something. It thusly can remove some thing or idea from some central thing, or other thing. In this way, it multiplies things and makes two things at least, that are the same and not, known and different. And as an adjective it exists in thought or as an idea without having a physical or concrete existence. So as an adjective, it is non-material thinking: my abstract thinking. 

The About Me (is) abstract I have started with is my adjective–verb–noun all in one put into words and thusly in constant flux and tweaking because the adjective is the abstract descriptor, the verb is the abstract action and the noun is the abstract status all bouncing off one another every time I look at it. 

Abstract art widens this further if we broadly think of it as art that does not attempt to represent external reality, focusing rather on shapes, forms, colours and textures (Lexico, Feb 22, 2022) … as if these were immaterial things. But they are material … too. Hahaha, ie. measuring an orange (fruit) with a (carpenter) square. Here though, rather than extracting or abstracting orange from square, I am putting them together to inform some new relationship. 

The website, Inside Science, describes how the etymological root of the word abstract links nonrepresentational art and the history of scientific publications: “As a whole, the word “abstract” conveys the concept of “drawn off from.” It fits both the idea of a scientific abstract, which contains a summary of points drawn from the body of text it precedes, and the idea of an abstract painting, which is often a symbolic representation of the ideas that inspired the artist (Yiu, 2020). 

Yiu, a physicist, goes on to describe that the idea of an abstract was born out of a necessity for others to know what scientific paper amongst the many might be worth reading: a kind of entry point and summative text amongst the plethora of scientific papers, and indeed, it was not written by the author but rather by those who might be in service of disseminating and communicating scientific knowledge. Yiu further writes that “Around 1800, the Royal Society of London, perhaps the most prominent scientific society at the time, began using the term “abstract” to describe the summary of a paper written into the minute books by the secretary after a paper had been read aloud at a meeting”. 

I like that there is already a translation of the idea in this early process of creating an abstract; one that requires the passing of time, others engaging in the idea, and a kind of performance aloud that comes before the written, summative engagement with many others. 

In May, 2021, I walked along the four edges of the outdoor ice rink at Mel Lastman Square in North York, Ontario. I walked with a view on the dried-up rink, a pool of silky white residue of pigmented ice left over from the winter season. There was something that recalled the past but that was also new and expectant in this, together with the spring sunshine that transformed the ground into a different kind of reflective surface (North York Arts Commissions, Poletto, 2021). 

My image up top was taken several months later when winter was again upon us. It captures the bright icey ground and the blocky civic building in behind: through the magic and misuse of the camera’s panoramic feature, the ice ramps up as if entering the building, an effect unplanned and also expectant in some measure by my consciously leveraging the feature’s glitch effect when I use it the way it’s not to be used. The resultant image, for me, internalizes and externalizes COVID isolation in the commons, and germinates a hope that is represented in the Zamboni’s re-smoothing of ice and in the expectant skaters. In these posts, I will start with a selection of 60 images entitled and numbered Glitch123456789101112131415161718192021222324252627282930313233343536373839404142434445464748495051525354555657585960 

that were made using the panoramic function on my camera phone to work through my ideas about the machination and breaking up of self and other(s), and the human and non-human interactions therein.