DO SOMETHING is an artist book published by (U)LS 2009. The book borrows the generic diagrammatic form of the instruction manual to create a specific dance of objects and actions.
“In Literature it is only necessary to outline the steps. Let the people dance!“*
The objects in the manual are imaginary, and do not exist outside of their drawings on paper. Arranged about the page as if to accommodate a text which is missing, the images are left to speak on their own. Like a translation whose original has been lost, these floating instructions are a trace without a reference, telling a story that cannot be grasped.
Accordingly the apparatus of the diagrammatic form – dotted lines, arrows and image borders – occasionally slip through into representation and, on a par with the objects they describe, take part in the action and become themselves objects of description. Instructions are repositories of potential activity. Though the diagrams cannot be enacted as they are, DO SOMETHING invites reciprocation. Enacting the careful dance laid out on paper implies improvising alternative objects from whatever one has to hand, approximating the movements of arrows and dotted lines in the air nearby. Transferred from potential to activity the manual is opened and undone, and resolves into a broad but delicate imperative:
“It is not that nothing can be done, but rather that something must be done and that we cannot be sure what to do.“✝
* Anthony Kerrigan in his 1962 Introduction to J. L. Borges’ Fictions.
✝ Dermot Moran, Introduction to Phenomenology (2000), referring to Derrida’s refutal that the undecidability characteristic of deconstruction makes ‘the taking of any definite moral stance either arbitrary or impossible’.