New Westminster Residency Blog

A collection of thoughts and photos to document the process of working as an artist in residence for the city of New Wesminster's solid waste and recycling program.

Collective City Poetry Sculpture

My theoretical intention behind this sculpture is to break down the barrier between publisher/consumer and author/reader. All of these words came from  packaging where words are used to persuade the consumer to buy the commodity, from newspapers which have an authoritative voice telling the reader facts about the world they live in, and from littered notes, which give a glimpse into the daily lives of anonymous people around the city. When all these words are broken out of their context they can be re-discovered, re-imagined, and re-written in an empowering act of word-play. The participant is no longer a complacent consumer or reader or viewer; they are asked to think about where these words have been used before and to reuse them in new, creative, unique ways of their choosing. When the participant has completed their cluster or sentence or poem, the only trace of this experience will be left in their memory of the act of playing, as well as a photo if they decide to capture it. Otherwise, these words will continue to be recycled by others, therefore becoming non-hierarchical in its authorship.

Last weekend was the first showing of the Collective City Poetry sculpture. It was a really big week of work leading up to the showing at Lit Fest in New Westminster. I was worried about creating enough blocks from found-words to fill up the structure to looked finished. After problem solving lots of issues, such as how to create really durable cardboard blocks (extra glue), and how to cut these thick blocks apart (band saw) I was able to create more than enough blocks to be used, just in time. It feels good to have a deadline, and to accomplish a goal on time.

I am happy with the size of this piece. I was really worried it was too big, but actually the size allows for multiple people to be browsing/building words at the same time. It also helps the piece attract attention in the large lobby space of the Anvil Centre. The white faces of the structure help make the piece look refined and are a nice, clean background for the words to visually pop out from.

Something that could have been better designed is creating a difference between the space to store words and the space to display words. This could be done by having drawers at the bottom of the structure that could store words for people to dig through and discover. As it is now, I believe people are hesitant to disassemble words that are already being displayed as a sentence. When all the word blocks are displayed on the structure it is too full to easily move words around. Some of the words had to be removed to leave room to encourage people to play.

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Molly Marineau