I published a review of Craig Dworkin’s No Medium (MIT Press, 2013), a study about “works that are blank, erased, clear, or silent,” in the latest weekend edition of Hyperallergic. This is a bit of what I said:
…in “The Logic of Substrate,” the first and strongest chapter of the book, Dworkin provides a definition that affords us a more elegant and refined, if not novel, understanding of how media operate: “Those objects that are casually referred to as ‘media,’ … are perhaps better considered as nodes of articulation along a signifying chain: the points at which one type of analysis must stop and another can begin; the thresholds between languages; the limns of perception.” In this sense, the title No Medium acts as a kind of homophonic and edifying mnemonic: to realize that there is no medium — or better yet, to put the term “medium” sous rature, that is, under erasure — is to know media in a richer and, to use Dworkin’s own phrase, “more robust” way.
I notice that Amazon lists the book with a significantly different cover…as if it were deliberately supplanting what appears to be a polaroid photograph with the older medium of monochromatic painting, a kind of lighter version of Yves Klein’s blues. Can anyone account for this difference?
The image is embossed on the cover and I’m guessing that might have something to do with it…
Here’s a link to Publishing The Unpublishable, an incredible project that’s “edited” (although I would call it curated) by Kenneth Goldsmith. Goldsmith writes:
What constitutes an unpublishable work? It could be many things: too long, too experimental, too dull; too exciting; it could be a work of juvenilia or a style you’ve long since discarded; it could be a work that falls far outside the range of what you’re best known for; it could be a guilty pleasure or it could simply be that the world judges it to be awful, but you think is quite good. We’ve all got a folder full of things that would otherwise never see the light of day.
Invited authors were invited to ponder to that question. The works found here are their responses, ranging from an 1018-page manuscript (unpublishable due to its length) to a volume of romantic high school poems written by a now-respected innovative poet. You get the idea.
The web is a perfect place to test the limits of unpublishability. With no printing, design or distribution costs, we are free to explore that which would never have been feasible, economically and aesthetically. While this exercise began as an exploration and provocation, the resultant texts are unusually rich; what we once considered to be our trash may, after all, turn out to be our greatest treasure.
The series will conclude when the 100th manuscript is published.
Please note that the series is by invitation only.