How to Know: A Space

How to Know: A Space is an artist book I wrote in 2016. For DARE 2017, I propose to present an installation with printed excerpts from the book and to perform a reading. Specifically, actual copies of the book will be displayed in the Red Room at the Orpheus Institute. Conference participants will be able to read the text and look at the images throughout the conference. During the plateau discussion, I propose to read a ten-minute excerpt from the book and to give a short five-minute presentation contextualising the reading and summarising the ideas I discuss below.

This bilingual book (English and Greek) revolves around a fictionalised conversation between characters—human and non-human—all of whom approach the question of “how to know a space” from several points of view: architecture, civil engineering, mathematics, visual art, theatre, fiction writing, and philosophy.

The fictionalised conversation draws upon actual conversations I had with people from various fields. These discussions acted as a methodological approach  for  writing  the text. They acted as openings and passages—ways of allowing other voices into the work. The characters in the text may or may not correspond to actual people, combinations of people, or fictional personae.

In addition, the text draws upon other kinds of conversations: with authors whose texts I have read, with artists and artworks I have encountered, with spaces I have passed through (including the space of the book itself). Specifically, the mode of writing the book—utilising conversation as a method for both generating and organising the text—draws upon the work of Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, and Bracha L. Ettinger.

While writing the book, I turned to Deleuze’s discussion of speaking with and writing with rather than for (Deleuze and Parnet, Dialogues II). Using actual conversations as the basis for writing the book, I attempt to perform this idea of writing with others. Moreover, while writing the book I treated each page as a space in itself. As such, form and content developed together. The characteristics of each page, such as its size, margins, and other restrictions imposed by printing processes, determined the placement and content of the text. In a sense, I was writing with the specificities of the book as an object.

Bracha  Lichtenberg  Ettinger  in  conversation  with  Craigie  Horsfield  observes  that conversation can act as “a committed ‘working-through.’” In the case of How to Know: A Space, the conversations work through the question of how to know a space in a rhizomatic way, allowing a non-hierarchical and open-ended thinking-in-process to materialise (Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus). By approaching the central question from different points of view, I attempted to allow  resonances  and  differences  to  emerge and co-exist and to enable lines of thought and communication to arise and recede. I was interested in how these conversations could perform “the outline of  a becoming” (Deleuze and Parnet, Dialogues II).

Finally, I was interested in exploring translation as a becoming. For me, the notions of translation and intimacy are interrelated. Different forms of translation may act as ways of getting to know: at the simplest level, moving around a space—or translating yourself in a space—may enable a familiarity with that space; more literally, translating something from one “language” to another implies a certain closeness to the “original.” Thus, these notions of translation and getting-to-know involve multiple considerations of distance and closeness. The text negotiates this play of distance and proximity.