Even more interesting is his discussion of the Tudor court, where a lot of the communication among insiders took place through the exchange of … poetry, which allowed people both to discuss sensitive topics elliptically and to demonstrate their cleverness. You could even build a career through poetry, not by selling it, but by using your poems to build a reputation, which could translate into royal favor and high office — sort of the way some people use their blogs to build influence that eventually leads to paying gigs of one kind or another.
Ezra Pound was an asshole, but he said a couple wise things,” Roggenbuck wrote to me in an email. “One of them was that ‘Great Literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree.’ If we’re trying to move people in only 140 characters, or 6 seconds, or 500x500 pixels, our language must be charged with meaning. In that sense, the internet is a game that only poets can win. What I’m trying to do is get more poets-in the-romantic-sense to use these platforms.
‘Great Literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree.’
Ezra Pound quoted by Roggenbuck
The arrangement was the meaning,” Joan Didion writes in “Blue Nights.” The same is as true of objects as of words, and the small compositions of personal belongings so recognizable as “Instagram” are, simply, selfies without a face.
What each says is not “this is a good shoe” or “these shoes look good on me,” but “these shoes look good in my life,” which is what Benjamin meant when he said goods are sold by flâneurie.
If Twitter is the street, Facebook the suburban-sprawl mall, and Pinterest some kind of mail-order catalog, Instagram is the many-windowed splendor of a younger Bergdorf’s, showing all we possess or wish for, under squares of filtered glass, each photographic pane backlit 24/7.
What is the new Paris, the new Manhattan, the arcade in the age of digital reproduction? It is Instagram: the app built to make you covet your neighbor’s life.
As someone who is interested in the history and development of ideas in art, I appreciate its contribution to the way in which we perceive, find meaning, and experience images and space. I value my time with Wall Drawing #50 A, taking it in more carefully and fully as if it might disappear. There is also the democracy with which LeWitt has imbued his work that endears me to it. In its absolute abstraction and lack of hierarchy (it is comprised of thousands of parallel and crossing lines), I sense that my perception is as valuable and valid as the artist’s intent. It is also interesting to note that this work does not require the hand of the artist. Rather, it consists of seemingly simple instructions which are executed at any point in time (in this case after LeWitt’s death) and in different locations by studio assistants and museum staff. Of course this results in different iterations with each execution. No two installations of the same instructions could possibly be identical, which speaks to the humanness and uniqueness within systems.
With the wall drawings, LeWitt wanted a work of art that was as two-dimensional as possible and felt that working directly on the wall was more natural than creating a structure (such as canvas) to paint or draw on that is then hung on the wall. He also acknowledged that using the wall was not as revolutionary as it might seem given prehistoric cave paintings and medieval frescos. Nevertheless, the faint color pencil lines of Wall Drawing #50 A challenge expectations as one encounters the piece in the somewhat private space it has been allotted at the Modern. In becoming one with the architecture, adhering to the wall rather than hanging on top of it, LeWitt’s monumental drawing has an ephemeral quality that seems a bit precarious when one considers what happens to this meticulously rendered, labor-intensive drawing if it has to be deinstalled to make room for other works or to go on loan, which is often the case for art in a museum. Rather than being taken down and stored and protected in the vault, the piece as it is currently installed at the Modern would be painted over and, thus, destroyed.
To my mind, this vulnerability adds to the work’s beauty and my relationship with it.