Materia Prima, text-as-image

Calvert, S. 2012. Materia Prima, text-as-image. Journal of Writing in Creative Practice. 4 (3), pp. 309-328.

TitleMateria Prima, text-as-image
AuthorsCalvert, S.

It is with the materiality of language, or Materia Prima, that this article concerns itself, reflecting upon the ‘surface’ of text, as an image in its own right. The oral or spoken/auditory/acoustic qualities of language have long been held to be aesthetically central to literature and poetry. The philosopher Richard Shusterman describes this phenomenon as a lack of attention to those instances when the ‘visible is visible’, this phrase relying upon a distinction between two meanings of the word ‘visible’. The first suggests being ‘able to be seen’, while the second suggests the ‘conspicuous’ or ‘strikingly manifest’ aspect(s) of the seen (or passive and active modes of the visible). The printed surface of language, where the ‘visible is visible’, has traditionally been viewed as irrelevant in philosophical accounts of language, from Plato to Wittgenstein, where, frequently, language is broken down only into ‘the sound aspect’ and ‘the meaning aspect’. However, this article will argue that the knowledge that artists, designers, typographers and illustrators bring is that the material word is a crucial partner in the production of meaning, by engaging with those practitioners whose work interfaces with these concerns, both directly and indirectly.

JournalJournal of Writing in Creative Practice
Journal citation4 (3), pp. 309-328
YearMar 2012
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Publication dates
PublishedMar 2012

Related outputs

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Calvert, S. 2012. Re/cut archive and print project.

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Calvert, S. 2011. Materia Secunda, text as image. Book 2.0. 1 (2), pp. 139-161.

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