em ty


a thing is a hole on the surface of what it is not

         Carl Andre

Erasures obliterate, but they do also reveal; omissions within a system permit other elements to appear all the more clearly.

        Craig Dworkin

Screen Shot 2018-09-05 at 1.48.55 AM


The discussion of a letter as a  medium of writing doesn’t seem to be trivial when writing on screen is in the focus. It automatically needs justification that distinguishes a letter from an  image that seems to own the screen.The zero concept of spatium, an empty space,  is a principle uniting printing press technology and the study of perspective. A space can be filled by a letter or left empty, it was “poured into lead by Gutenberg and into verse by Mallarme” (Kittler, 2001). Spatium can be compared to zero, ordering all other numbers. According to the thought of McLuhan, the point of view in Albertini’s perspective and a space of the letter share similar geometry. The same is true for the cartographer’s grid (McLuhan & Parker, 1968:12). This similarity equals the page and the screen and explains how the same surface can be used for working with image and text.

Apophatic figure of negative space is a way of arranging space of the page or a set of pages usually rather concretely symbolizing an unspeakable loss. Omitted photos from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC  and remaining language of the caption is a compositional principle of Holocaust Museum (2013) by conceptual poet Robbert Fitterman.  Absence (2003) is  a cube block of a book by an architect and educator Meejin Yoon. This is an ideologically charged personal memorial of the Twin Tower’s attack. The first page after cut out title presnts the dot that slowly (in 110 pages, just as many as the numer of floors in the WTC) transforms into the silhouettes of two towers and then their absence on the grid of the map.

While Fitterman and Yoon  use the architecture of negative space and image to suggest the materiality of absence, the empty space of the screen, or the blue shade of space, is employed by Ivan Khimin as a  medium of indexical and abstract representation for the six pieces of the ASCII32 series. The images are made up of the space signs. The only thing you see when following the url is nothing, once you press “Control A” the blue shades of spaces reveal the familiar silhouette of a man wearing a hat (Image 1), no other than Joseph Beuys in the subsequent portrait. The four of them are  figurative ____x___.htm (a computer), __x_____.htm (a fur tree), tHE_pORTRAIT_oF_jOSEPH_bEUYS.htm,

tHE_pORTRAIT_oF_tIMUR_nNOVIKOV.htm (a male profile), and two non figurative:  a stripped screen of _______x.htm and the solid rectangle of _______.html.

1. _______.html.

<!–   there’s nothing outside the text. jacquese derrida  –>


2. _______x.htm

<!–   there’s nothing outside the text. jacquese derrida  –>


3. ____x___.htm

<!–   there is nothing outside the text. jaqcuese derrida   –>



4. __x_____.htm

<!– there is nothing outside the text. jacques derrida  –>








The code is as evasive as the flickering on the visibility border of the resulting image, depending on whether you did or did not select the space of the image. The code is also clearly written to be read alongside with the text. The Derridian il n’ya pas d’hors-texte (Derrida, 1976:158-59) can be read as nothing literally outside the text of the code. And the nothing gapped in the blue of the cursor selection, while the portrait of Joseph Beuys still contains two words, the last work of the series contains only one. It is easy to make an inference, that another one is in no code, or simply everywhere or somewhere on the screen of your device. Khimin puts this Cagean idea of necessity of including reality in the work of art into the gaps between the words or images on the screen. One subconsciously starts looking for recognizable shapes in the spaces between the words of a page he or she is reading or writing.

Holocaust Museum by Rob Fitterman

“Loss – erasure and absence – is made palpable by the marked suppression of the missing photographs.” (Bernstein 2012)

A part of the conceptual strategy is – with a quote by Vanessa Place I’ll return to below – to pour a hot content on a cool container. Maybe to use the container’s intrinsic boredom as a kind of photographic developer, and with that to be able to see and experience other structures than we usually do, in an existing, surrounding material. Here, one of the things that to a certain degree becomes visible, is how the canonical – and to some extend standardized – Holocaust representations of the Western world is at work.

Or as Marianne Hirsch and Leo Spitzer writes in their article ‘Incongruous images’ about the curating and presentation of the photographies at the USHMM: “They display images that readily lend themselves to iconicization and repetition. But while this choice may allow them to stir viewers’ emotions and to gain their sympathetic attention, it also impedes troubling the well-known narratives about this time. It restricts their visitors’ engagement with the Holocaust’s more complex – and less easily categorized – visual and historical landscape. And, in so doing, it delimits the rich interpretive possibilities that this vast archive of private and public photographs can open and enable.” (Hirsch and Spitzer 2010, 173) What Fitterman does with his almost boring (re)presentation of the horrific, is very much the opposite of what Hirsch and Spitzer is criticizing the USHMM for. He’s contributing to complicating or disturbing the clear message – not the least through the organization of the text, when for instance he parallels the acts of the Auschwitz executioners with that of the French resistance:

“Bales of human hair ready for shipment to Germany found in one the [sic!] Auschwitz warehouses when the camp was liberated. In Auschwitz 7,000 kilo of human hair was found at liberation. [Photograph #66583]

Bales containing the hair of female prisoners lie in the courtyard of one of the warehouses in Auschwitz after the liberation. [Photograph #10867]

Members of the French resistance shear the hair of a young woman who consorted with the Germans during the occupation. [Photograph #81863]”

(Fitterman 2012, 84)

Martin Glaz Serup

Jen Bervin. nets, UDP, 2004l  from Process note:

“I stripped Shakespeare’s sonnets bare to the “nets” to make the space of the poems open, porous, possible—a divergent elsewhere. When we write poems, the history of poetry is with us, pre-inscribed in the white of the page; when we read or write poems, we do it with or against this palimpsest”.

Amaranth Borsuk, Jasper Juul, Nick Montfort The Deletionist, 2013 “The Deletionist is a concise system for automatically producing an erasure poem from any Web page. It systematically removes text to uncover poems, discovering a network of poems called “the Worl” within the World Wide Web.”

Further erasures:

Srikanth Reddy. Voyager.

Srikanth Reddy’s second book of poetry probes this world’s cosmological relation to the plurality of all possible worlds. Drawing its name from the spacecraft currently departing our solar system on an embassy to the beyond, Voyager unfolds as three books within a book and culminates in a chilling Dantean allegory of leadership and its failure in the cause of humanity. At the heart of this volume lies the historical figure of Kurt Waldheim—Secretary-General of the U.N. from 1972-81 and former intelligence officer in Hitler’s Wehrmacht—who once served as a spokesman for humanity while remaining silent about his role in the collective atrocities of our era. Resurrecting this complex figure, Reddy’s universal voyager explores the garden of forking paths hidden within every totalizing dream of identity.

Janet Holmes The ms of m y kin (2009)

Jonathan Safran Foe.  Tree of codes (2010)

Tree of Codes is an artwork, in the form of a book, created by Jonathan Safran Foer, and published in 2010. To create the book, Foer took Bruno Schulz‘s book The Street of Crocodiles and cut out the majority of the words. The publisher, Visual Editions, describes it as a “sculptural object.”[1]Foer himself explains the writing process as follows: “I took my favorite book, Bruno Schulz’s Street of Crocodiles, and by removing words carved out a new story”

Mary Ruefle. A Little White Shadow  

Christian Hawkey and Uljana Wolf. Sonne From Ort (2012)

SONNE FROM ORT is a bilingual collaborative erasure of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’sSonnets from the Portuguese and their en face 1907 German translations by Rainer Maria Rilke, published in Germany by Insel Verlag. These love poems to Robert Browning were written between 1845 and 1846 and published in 1850. The title purposefully suggested they were translations from the Portuguese in order to veil their personal content. For this edition, a further translation of the white-out redactions into graphic information was developed by book designer Andreas Töpfer.

Павел Арсеньев Примечания переводчика (2013)

Арсеньев работает с тревожной линией Дюшана в искусстве, который высветил и практиковал скандал произвольного наименования, что оставило от искусства только одно имя, одновременно механизировав работу живописца (приблизив ее к двоичному коду текста) и радикально освободив и диверсифицировав ее (такой свободой свободна литература по отношению к своему референциальному объекту).
Создавая готовые стихи (ready-written), Арсеньев стремится сделать нечто подобное с поэзией, активно привлекая при этом опыт и средства искусства для выполнения этой задачи. Переводя текст в формат видео, Арсеньев обращается в своем фильме «Примечании переводчика» к стихотворению, состоящему из уже-готовых строк «Голубой и коричневой книг» Л. Витгинштейна.
Единственное высказывание, недвусмысленно обозначающее свое авторство, — эпиграф, взятый из Витгенштейна, — тоже переписан, подчеркнут, выделен чужой рукой. Все остальные текстовые отрезки, авторство которых тем более не так просто установить, создаются еще более несобственным и механизированным образом, что призвано проблематизировать условия труда современной поэтической субъективности. Это оказывается сегодня возможным только благодаря широко понятым художественным средствам.
Если работы Витгенштейна прослеживают ситуации поломки обыденного языка, то в стихотворении имеет место поломка распознавания аналитического движения самой витгенштейновской мысли через деконтекстуализацию примеров и отдельных тавтологических предложений, из которых сбивается некий эфемерный сюжет. Видео на стихотворение осуществляет реконструкцию сцены его написания, демонстрируя извилистое течение чтения и выхватывания поэтического и аналитического сюжета одновременно.

A Humument  by Tom Phillips has been a work in progress since 1966 when artist Tom Phillips set himself a task: to find a second-hand book for threepence and alter every page by painting, collage and cut-up techniques to create an entirely new version. The book he found was an 1892 Victorian obscurity A Human Document by W.H. Mallock and Phillips transformed it into A Humument. The first version was printed by the Tetrad press in 1973, and Phillips has continued to transform it, revise it and develop it ever since.

This section of the website brings together a wealth of information on this Gesamtkunstwerk which you are invited to explore by clicking the links on the left of this page.

Un coup de des jamais n’abolira les hasards by Marcel Broodhaers (1969)

La plui 


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