Chris Girard | USA
LADY/APPLICANT: ON THE LAZARUS A COLLAGE POEMLADY/APPLICANT: ON THE LAZARUS A COLLAGE POEMLADY/APPLICANT: ON THE LAZARUS A COLLAGE POEM [PDF, 5mb]
This research investigates the ‘performativity’ of the ‘author function’ through collaging the audio recordings of American poet Sylvia Plath. The ‘author function’ is a term by Michel Foucault to describe how readers attribute certain characteristics that they believe belong to the author and ascribe them to the writing. ‘Performativity’ is a term used by Judith Butler to describe a set of actions that ascribe and predetermine a set of attributes to a subject through his or her gender, age, timeframe, nationality and race. The ‘performativity’ of the ‘author function’ appropriates these characteristics and attributes them to the author. How the determination of an authorial identity translates to the interaction of the practice component of the project, which includes several components of digital collage, is through attributions that readers make in the creation of an author. The practice component of the project consists of the collage of audio and video recordings, the programming of video with Max/MSP/Jitter, ‘performative’ elements and collage poetry on Twitter. I collaged the audio component from two poems entitled ‘Lady Lazarus’ and ‘The Applicant’ that Plath read to the British Council in 1962 to form a new poem entitled Lady/Applicant: The Lazarus. The video component consists of collaging recorded video clips of storefront and street signs in Camden, London, where she is associated with living and committing suicide. A second video collage entitled Shadows/Shadows/Tomb takes place at a cemetery close to my residence in 2011 and documents symbols of death that reference my own authorial identity. The second set of videos run on a Max/MSP/Jitter patch that display four screens of filmed texts inscribed on tombstones that play four streaming poems through a systematic structure of boxes. The screens displayed in each box play film clips that come from separate folders. The practice of collage and constraint-based poetry complicates the constitution of being the author when the collagist of Plath’s poetry is a different gender than hers. This research then expands on how identity radically shifts in the text when the subject and the collagist have very different identities. The radical shift in a collage takes place within a predefined and generalized concept of the reader as determined by Stanley Fish, a prominent writer on the subject of ‘reader-response criticism’, who believes that one way a reader could be approached is through his or her relationship with the writing.
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