December 30th 2018 - Aliquotality. It's been some time since the last Studio Blog. Meanwhile John has been getting on with more drawings in the Wittgenstein Series and has entered his Plato/Pluto period! (More about this in a later blog). For now, I will give the reader some information about the Aliquotality drawing that comes directly from the artist himself.
The drawing is a diptych wall panel, 3'3" high by 4' wide, executed in pen and ink in 1973. Its alternative title was America and it is a 'summary' of John's conceptual and visual 'lexicons' up to the 1970s (including towers, babel themes, and the alphabet).
According to John, for the left-hand panel "the two columns of type read from top downwards. The centre column works through the alphabet with the black letters, with the exception of 'X', which makes an exit at the top of the left hand column. The pyramid with the eyes in the top section is a three-dimensional version of the image to be found on the dollar bill. Amongst other things, I refer to the parts of the human body in this column, and the idea of body-language. There is also a personal reference to "Dorothy" events in the use of the word DOT. (Note: Dorothy was the name given by John and associates given for a series of happenings they organised in the '60s). The triangle of dots is of course the symbol for 'therefore', and I have combined it at one point with the question-mark. Funnily enough, I was thinking of Mohammed Ali when I used the word ALIQUATALITY - hence DEE MOUTH, which could also be the mouth of the river. At the top of the left-hand column is a see-saw permutation of the Latin tags COGITO ERGO SUM and DEUS EX MACHINA - the chevrons in between the boxes are meant to indicate that the reader/viewer can make his/her own permutations of these words. The toppling right-hand tower is composed of the KAMEO (cameos) of magic number squares from the Kabbala and is topped by the gnostic vowel-pyramid, which is a correspondance with the ziggurat temple: the Tower of Babel. Brer Rabbit is running past it on his way west (east? I'm not sure if all took place before or after the earth reversed its polarity)."
For the right-hand panel, "Mae West is advising her Brer Rabbit (aka the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland) to hurry on west, urged on by Roy Rogers and his friend Trigger, who is four-footed (not four-legged)... four-footed = sure-footed... Carved on the base of Liberty's plinth is Ben Franklin's dictum: TIME IS MONEY. The March-Hare at the Boston Tea Party hears what Mae West is saying and replies in mirror writing, or mirror talk: O DEAR, O DEAR, I SUPPOSE THEN THAT IN THIS GAME, TIME IS EITHER ANTIMONY OR ANTINOMY (Antinomy = two mutually contradictory laws). He dips his watch in tea, and Uncle Sam dips George III into a teapot. Bottom left are the five elements with their correct numerical proportions. Liberty's tablet has been replaced by a cornucopia."
December 31st 2018 - A rare find. In 1964, John and his students at the Bath Academy of Art decided to produce a magazine that specialised in concrete and visual poetry. It included work by John, dom sylvester houédard (dsh), John Sharkey, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Anselm Hollo, David Hockney, Pierre Garnier, Tony Shields, and Barry Miles.
The cover was designed by John and within its covers was a manifesto (Position 1 of Internatational for Spatial Poetries) that was devised by Pierre Garnier and that was signed by all the contributors, except for John who wrote: "although a signatory of spatialist 'position1', I now wish to unsign since I don't like manifestos and I position myself in the rear guard of the avant-garde."
To end this year's Blog, here is the Xmas card John has just sent me (it is reminiscent of the missing link Openings card devised by John and dsh)
Seasonal greeting to all our 'readers'