Textural Textual Traversal (2020)

A project by David Harris and Paul Bardini, first exhibited in the exhibition A Closed Box at Griffith University, Australia, in February 2020.

This interactive work has viewers touch a glass window with controls behind, to control the position of a microscope positioned in front of a written text. The magnified text is projected on a wall behind. Viewers can drive the microscope over the text to investigate what is written but can only ever understand the text by piecing together what they observe through this traversal.

A viewer outside the gallery drives a microscope around to investigate a text.

Texts define a spatial relationship with a reader by the interplay of the scales of the textual object and human biology. But surrounding that typical scale are other phenomena that allow texts to be read. In this work, a viewer is too far from a raw text to read it, the magnified projection makes the text too close to read, and if the text is reconstructed through a viewer’s microscopic traversal, is it even readable anyway? The text eschews any semantic purpose and becomes a prompt for exploring scales ranging from the microscopic to the human.

The text chosen here is the lorem ipsum dummy text used by typesetters as a placeholder when laying out pages. It has no place being written by hand whatsoever. It does however, add an extra layer of ambiguity to the nature of what it means to look at and “read” a text when we consider the biological, physical, and cognitive aspects of reading into focus.