Palmer Series


“Once the hand took hold of the pen, something miraculous occurred: the body, which did not cease writing itself, left strangely unavoidable traces.” (Fredrich Kittler, Gramophone, Film Typewriter

Revealing pressure and pause, ink describes a drawing and words, each tethered to the writer; words silently voicing language, the drawing spinning out the skill, diligence, and standing of its author.

Another drawing builds, unintended, like the sound of a crowd, as the author’s damp words and signatures seep over and over into a blotter, a palimpsest of all messages.


Project Narrative

The Palmer Series will be seen as a departure from my usual practice.  In that, I posit unstable, uncanny juxtapositions in single photographs, shown in series and sequences.   For an analogy I look to dance or jazz: engage the body, have good chops, pay attention, and aim for surprise.   Such photography boils down to transmitting data as experience.

Photography may also be understood as display of predilections.  I give the humble objects I am drawn to collect a home, sometimes in my art.  My Palmer Series marries used blotters with handwritten excerpts from other collections, such as scrapbooks and postcards.   

As in walkabout photography, something in an inscription must pop up to elevate the everyday.  A graceful phrase, “…snow to track a cat.”; a dissonance, as when a boy writes that his father’s business was destroyed by fire, but his “exams are over… and the folks are all well”; or the visuality of handwritten exercises will recommend a text.  Selections are framed for their essence, and enlarged to display what the inky process of writing offers.  Scale counts.

Handwriting is both words and drawing, drawing schooled in years of drill, often in Palmer penmanship.  As with any drawing, judgments will be made.  One’s writing, metonymically expressed as one’s hand, may imply at a glance one’s competence, education, sex or age.  The “I” of the sender is present to the “Thou” of the receiver in a way not possible in digital messaging.  The enlarged line, tracing pressure and pause, further illuminates a path back to the sender.

The association of a blotter with a text does not implicate that blotter in the creation of that text.  Rather, the blotter may be seen as a palimpsest of all messages, a kind of meta-history of handwriting, of which the chosen text is an example.  Yet, from many blotters, one will emerge as right for a chosen text.  Something- fragments of legibility, the blotter’s color, folds or tears, the density or spareness of its blots, will click, joining the two elements.  If successful, as in all my photographs, an unstable, uncanny interweaving of narrative and form may occasion a pause for the experience that I reach for.

[1]  (Stanford University Press, 1999).