Thinking Out Loud, Part 2

html 101: keys to deciphering the code used to pack and unpack our knapsacks –

TAG! You’re It!

moments of truth and beauty are never scripted,
they exist mostly in the blank spaces
between the items on the checklist,
come up through the cracks in a conversation,
rarely look anything like you thought they would.

– Mary McNamara, “No one does it like Oprah
Calendar section, L.A. Times, Wednesday, May 24, 2011

Do not iron— defined as “making art from the undisguised, but often modified use of objects that are not normally considered art,” the Watts Towers, pictured

Watts Towers

"Watts Towers" Sabato Rodia. Mortar and found objects

here, epitomize the concept of “found” art. In addition to porcelain, tile, and bits of glass, there are bed frames, sea shells, scrap metal and assorted bottles mortared into the structure that speaks to us in a peculiar vernacular that marks L.A. — one that is like obscenity or good teaching: easily recognizable, but difficult to articulate. (I know it when I see it.)

Do not wring —along the lines of making art from “found” objects, I’ve started a little collection of “found” language in my journal. Once I started looking for discrete units (interesting bits) of language, I found the place literally littered with the stuff.

From traffic signs:Drifting Sandto fortune cookies:
you can find language pretty much everywhere. I found these tags stuck on “Amanda,” a new style of jeans:

And this list of instructions was inside a new travel coffee mug:

Do not bleach — what to do with these prizes? Play. Make art from the “undisguised but often modified” use of the language, the epitome of which can be found in a familiar Lewis Carroll poem:


"Jabberwocky" Lewis Carroll.

Created by replacing recognizable words with “nonsense” words, Jabberwockyexhibits a sense of play, surprising us with its use of language, as does this excerpted shard by e.e. cummings:

anyone lived in a pretty how town

"anyone lived in a pretty how town" e.e. cummings. brushed air.

Freed from the pretense of poetry as “high art,” these two examples remind us that one of the first principles of making art is to have fun.

Machine wash — so, I thought it might be a fun exercise to start out with a label I found inside a new article of clothing:and modify it. As it is small and has interesting line-breaks already, all you’d have to do to create a found poem would be to substitute some of the words. For example: Stream wash/ cold, dark stones/ glassy. No / shoes. Tumble wet/ lost feet. No outlet.

Tag! You’re “It! — if you’d like to play, use any of the “found” language offered here, modify it, and leave your poem in the comments. Ollie, ollie, oxen free!


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