This project started with a short exercise which required us to create a series of basic movie posters through experimenting with text, image and meaning. Bellow are the posters I made:
I am largely pleased with these posters and feel there are some which are obviously stronger than others. The point of the exercise was to be thinking about the composition and style, they weren’t meant to be polished and perfect, but more like quick renditions produced without getting too precious and indecisive to loosen us up.
After this, we were briefed with the ‘actual’ project which required us to create a manifesto. The brief explained the manifesto as a communication made to the whole world. A simple declaration of intent used as a powerful tool for presenting ideas, themes and political, artistic and cultural concerns. The brief asked us to produce a piece of work on an issue or theme which we feel strongly about. Out of all of the things in the world, I decided to allocate myself with exploring my passion for nonsense.
I started my project by researching all things to do with nonsense. I largely found myself coated in children’s literacy, mostly in the form of poetry by people such as Edward Lear, Spike Milligan and Michael Rosen. Most of the poems produced by these birthers of nonsense retained a fair amount of narrative. When probing my brain pieces deeper into the definitions of nonsense I found it to be defined as a communication via speech, writing, symbolic system, that lacks any coherent meaning. I discovered that it is usually used for comic amusement and satire, or to illustrate a point about language or reasoning. I then came across an ‘official’ example of nonsense written by American linguist and cognitive scientist Noam Chomsky: “Colourless green ideas sleep furiously.” In this sentence, the individual words make sense and are arranged according to proper grammatical rules, yet the sentence reads as nonsense. It is grammatically correct but semantically nonsensical. When researching nonsense verse, I came across something called ‘Martian Poetry’, a minor British poetry movement in the late 70’s early 80’s started by Craig Raine and Christopher Reid, where everyday things and human behaviour is described in a strange way, as though by a visiting alien. This enabled common places to be viewed in a different way and enabled an innocently bizarre perception of the world. And then of course there is Dada poetry which wildly embraced every element of nonsense. They used puns, wordplay and experimental poetry and literature to free text and speech from the conventional and mundane rules of punctuation and spelling. One infamous technique created by Tristan Tzara in 1920 allowed anyone to create poetry using chance. This left the responsibility of communication and meaning out of the artists control. His instructions were to cut words from a newspaper and place them into a bag to mix before dropping or placing them onto a surface without disturbing the order they appear in.
Part of this venturing probe into nonsensicality was explore and learn why I adore it so much. I visually explored this in my sketchbook, noting thoughts and understandings about how nonsense is a comfort and affirms the unavoidable chaos and uncertainty. Its purpose is to not make sense, which in itself makes sense. Below are some scans from my project sketchbook.
As seen in the last scan, I had an idea to re-create the alphabet in the style of a children’s workbook but with some polite nonsense. I then digitised part of this to see what it would look like if I was to take it further and create a zine/educational workbook.
As my drive for this idea faded for it was kind of a dead end, I had myself a think about what it is that I actually wanted to make for this project. This next decision was influenced by a crit I had for another project I was doing along side this one (Text and Context), where the tutor simply asked what we would really like to do instead of what we think we should do, because that is where genuine motivation resides, in context to our creative practices. I embraced this way of thinking in relation to this project and asked myself what I would actually like to do. Something which I have been meaning to do for quite a long time is create a poetry zine. I then applied this desired outcome to this project and made it happen. Fortunately this worked quite well due to my direction towards written word, and so I started writing my own nonsense poetry.
I allowed all of the words in my brain to freely dance about, using free association and plain silliness I started writing poems. I did not pick a theme or object to write about, I just simply wrote and let the poems manifest themselves. I decided to title the zine Poemtry, a mix of poem and poetry.
While writing the poems, I started to screenshot certain ones which I would change so that I would still have the original. I saved these images into a folder titled ‘Poemtry Graveyard’. Bellow is a quick composition which I made from them.
I had quite a few ideas about format of the zine once I got going. I began playing with the position of text and order. I also had an idea to start it with use of rhyme, but slowly this progressively gets lost throughout, leaving the end poems being complete spaghetti.
When printing off a mockup of what I had done I encountered problems. I could export my indesign file to a pdf normally, but when trying to print it as a booklet in adobe acrobat the double-sided pages would always be upside down, rendering them a waste of paper. I used them as scrap paper to make a small booklet to present my film poster designs in my sketchbook, and in doing so, I accidentally created really interesting compositions. Some pages would be blank, others would have snippets of text sideways in different positions of the page. This opened my mind to embracing a more unconventional nature of presenting the zine which would feed into the nonsense theme. I still troubleshot the printing issue and managed to solve it so I would have at least one copy printed in the way I originally intended, however this delightful inconvenience inspired me to mess about with the layout of my poems.
These first two GIFs I created of the original Zine which I printed after I resolved the issue. The image bellow that is my three favourite poems from the zine.
Below is a GIF of the accidental compositions I made as mentioned above.
One of my housemates showed me a book which they had received as a gift and I immediately borrowed it for an unspecified amount of time as it was exactly what I needed for inspiration. It is called ‘POETRY’ and is a monthly poetry book featuring poems from a range of different authors. The thing I was drawn to other than the poems themselves, was the composition of some of them. Below are some photos I took:
The playful use of composition in relation to the text is exactly what I’m interested in. And so with this as inspiration I got to work jumbling up my own poems and I even wrote some new ones. Below is a GIF cycling through my new compositions.