In my last post I discussed ways to alternate text, and whether this was the correct idea to do so. In second year did a project based on a novel by J G Ballard, when researching the author I came across a novel by the writer called ‘Project For A New Novel’:
In 1958 JG Ballard created Project For A New Novel — an entire novel reduced to look like two-page magazine spreads, and planned to be posted on billboards. According to Ballard’s friend and Ambit editor, Dr. Martin Bax, “It’s eight frames photocopied with famous Ballard characters like Coma and Kline. Most of the text you can’t read because when you see things on billboards you don’t read the small print, so the text is deliberately blurred – you can only read the headlines and some remarks. I don’t know why I never published it… I had it framed some years ago. It hangs above my mantelpiece”.
As Ballard himself describes the Project: “(These are) a series of four facing-page spreads that were specimen pages I put together in the late 50s… sample pages of a new kind of novel, entirely consisting of magazine-style headlines and layouts, with a deliberately meaningless text, the idea being that the imaginative content could be carried by the headlines and overall design, so making obsolete the need for a traditional text except for virtually decorative purposes… The pages from the Project For A New Novel were made at a time when I was working on a chemical society journal in London, and the lettering was taken from the US magazine Chemical and Engineering News — I liked the stylish typography. I also like the scientific content, and used stories from Chem. Eng. News to provide the text of my novel. Curiously enough, far from being meaningless, the science news stories somehow become fictionalized by the headings around them.”
The work seems incredibly fitting for my line of work, and it particularly interests me for two reasons. Firstly the fact that Ballard was not an artist or any sort but a writer but the way in which he has used the text as a medium like an artist. It also seems of some importance that the work was noted by Ambit. Ballard has used the text in a deliberately decorative and with purpose. he states that they are originally meaningless words, but through the process it became fictionalised and through that created their own meaning through the means of layout and spread. Originally I was looking at this piece of work as a source of inspiration for text manipulation, but I think this method differs from what I would be trying to create. However, what I can take from this is referring back the mention of making text appear as if it was in a magazine spread (like Ambit), by the arrangement of the text he is able to manipulate what medium it could be from, the text is arranged to imitate a magazine spread, despite being a novel, but it also reminiscent of a billboard. Going back to my research into work displayed on the medium of the internet this way of thinking is worth mentioning. Would it be possible for me to either create work online that looks like an Ambit magazine spread, or a magazine spread that looks as though it belongs online. It’s possible that all of Bukowski’s poems could be arranged by using a similar method to Ballard. By changing the aesthetic of the type it can strike a different notion with in the reader of where it would typically be seen by them. This would give me the oppurtunity to start twisting and questioning the medium in which traditional read poetry, Bukowski’s in particular.