across & between. Anonymous (Kai Lossgott & public participants). 2017. 8 hour durational performance for two or more. Experimental text, sound (headphones), collection of found book objects. Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design, University of Johannesburg, ZA. Photo-documentation: Scott Peter Smith
A significant part of our shared definition of human intelligence is individually and collectively constructed by the act of ‘reading’, or making meaning. Departing from the definition offered by the literary theorist Roland Barthes, meaning is not located in the reader, the author or the text, it occurs though negotiation (Stuart Hall).
Meaning arises in the space between transmissions and receptions.
In ‘across & between’, responding to the writing prompt “how I know”, a text is collaboratively authored online in fully open-source public participation. The artist records the result as voice audio, then editorially scrambles the conditions for its reception by splitting sentences and phrases across the left and right stereo channels. Two participants speaking out loud to each other are required to complete the meaning of the text in a setting that blurs the public and the private.
‘across & between’ is a living text with no single author, but it depends entirely on individual human agency to narrate its ideas into being.
Donating their time, volunteers, many of them co-authors of the text, enter and leave the installation over a full duration of 8 hours, an average working day. Becoming translators to each other, they perform the slippages of meaning that occur constantly in the act of reading and interpreting the world, its selves (subjects) and purposes (objects), in the forming of “how I know”.
The echo of the living and dead voices that shape our lives (cf ‘ubuntu’) is only kept alive by personal donations of time and labour towards the project we call ‘knowledge’.
First staged at the FADA Booknesses Colloquium, 24 March 2017, University of Johannesburg, ZA, appropriated from texts by Diana Souhami, John Berger, Andre Clements, Friedrich Nietzsche, Hanna Vel, Marina Velez, Cheryl Traub Adler, Tania Haberland, Deidre Matthee, Dawn Garisch, Celia de Villiers, Z, Marion Milner, Rainer Maria Rilke, Kim Anno, Arja Salafranca, Plato, Theodore Schatzki, Chinua Achebe, Bruce Chatwin, Shelley Sacks, Juan Ramón Jiménez, Joseph Beuys, Arundhati Roy, Mary Jane Belenky, Michel De Certeau, Sheila Chandra, Diana Souhami, Leonard Cohen, Anne Frank, Paul Daley, K David Harrison, Michael Dunn, Amy Thijssen Hill, Adam Freeland, Eugene Gendlin, Kai Lossgott.
Future editions will re-write “how I know” and add to this list.