For this issue, I decided to focus on an idea I had about what the concept of syntax would be like if it could be applied to or considered in video work. On a page, words work as a line of language: they are strung, tied, placed one before one after, a chain with edges simultaneously referring to a past while anticipating an array of futures. Words become a chain that eventually loosens into skin whose each variable state is like a point on a ridged line, multitudinous and dynamic. A line that bifurcates, continued simultaneously in sustained punctures along other lines as new relationships bloom through the forward backward movement of its reader’s memories of color, touch, place, and texture. I imagine here, in this collection of video works, such a syntactic line: constituted by curves, rings, bends, and deviations as it passes through its points. A syntax that is operated by the double viewpoint of disjunction and connection, where the concept of syntax of a line of language converges onto the stream of video image. Language degrammaticalizes and agrammaticalizes the color-shape languages and shape-color languages. The sometimes merging sometimes divisive system creates order and reverse order. In these works by Biss, Bresland, Toosi, Fleischauer, Fuks, and Mattei, syntax becomes both the substitute for surfaces of flesh invaded and annexed in the consumption of the phantasm, and the surface.
I thank these artists for their lovely work, which was solicited for its use of language in a visual context and for its creation of distinct relationships conjured within that context. The preceding text was composed from fragments by Gilles Deleuze, Helene Cixous, real or possibly fictional linguists A.B. Hooton and C. Hooton, Jean-Francois Lyotard and myself. I also wanted to dedicate this, in part, to wet organisms struggling to breathe, eat, move, glide, suction, float, fuck, push, flex, grow and create in devastated water.
Robin Morrissey lives in Chicago, IL. She has an MFA in Poetry, which she completed mostly from a locked video-editing carrel in the Media lab at the University of Michigan, avoiding the English Dept. Her first video performance was in 1999, in downtown Detroit’s I/O Café, on Woodward under the People Mover. Her second was in Belgium. She never imagined a future so interdependent on screens. She supports transparency. Her writing and dramatic and visual work have appeared in pheobe, Columbia Poetry Review, Park Yourself, Lincoln Square Arts Center, Around the Coyote, Matrix Gallery, and the no project.