When I was in elementary school I thought I wanted to be an manuscript illuminator when I grew up. Nerdy of me, I know. But what greater thing could be accomplished than to bring a text alive with flourishes? Poets craft lines, but others craft lines
An expressive line—especially those that are thinly controlled yet apparently effortless— are to my eye the highest one can attain in mark-making. This is not to say that all art should have them, or consist solely of them. I mean, even brute marks made with crayons can say a lot. I guess this is just to say that if you can make marks like these, you know you've arrived, for whatever that's worth. You're capable of grace.
San Francisco State University's Fine Arts Gallery just closed an exhibition called The California Calligraphy Summit
. More than being about the hippy dippy calligraphy of the sort you can find in vegetarian cookbooks from the 60s and 70s, for instance, it was about different approaches to texts and notations and what these indicate about cultures, and how you relate to them. But the show wasn't a heady treatise on semiotics, either. It's approachable on a lot of fronts.
Of note is Isaac Lin, whose riffs on Gregorian music notation are turned into a pattern element suggestive of cloudy atmospheres. Now That You Are Gone
, according to the gallery didactic, is an homage to his father, a cello musician. I wasn't clear on whether he is you know, GONE gone or if he had merely left the house for the day.
Certainly it would be more romantic to believe that there were some sort of loss involved. Something to go with the floral curtains that are in the room. Regardless of all that, there is still a sense of absence since the seat is empty. Sound as well is absent.
The below image has sheet music as its substrate. It has the quality of an automatic drawing, which we can imagine are responses to music, bringing an emotive and sensual element to the codifications of standard notations.
more images of Isaac Lin's work
. Lin also has a Poketo series
, quite different from all this stuff.