Below is an extract from Jo Langton’s 2012 essay On the Poetics of Tamarin Norwood. The essay appears in its entirety in EST (vol 1: Aug 2012) pp. 20-25.
Here she examines a couple of my Shelf Poems in light of the Derridian ideas of framing and différance. You can see some of the Shelf Poems here, entitled These Are Not Poems.
Furthering this reconfiguration of the page and its re-examining through a new process of interpretation, Norwood deconstructs the word as signifier. This exploration beyond the page, beyond the text, enhances an understanding of the physicality of language, in the sense that the two-dimensional stoicism of written text is lifted off, and detached from, the page and becomes three-dimensional, rupturing from its usual context. It is as though a continuous line of text, ink, or in this case wire has been stretched from both ends to form a literal line. In doing this Norwood breaks from the typicalities of textual representation and embarks on a journey of limitless ‘freeplay’. Within these two poems, the wire movements become both the signifier and the signified, bridging the différance: ‘If one erases the radical différance between signifier and signified, it is the word “signifier” itself which must be abandoned as a metaphysical concept.’ (Derrida 1978: 355). […]
To further understand how the page is deconstructed, it is important to refer to Derrida’s concept of the frame: ‘We can nevertheless mark out, in a few rough strokes, a certain number or motifs. These strokes might be seen as a sort of frame, the enclosure or borders of a history that would be precisely that of a certain play between literature and truth.’ (Derrida, 2004: 198). This statement seems to define the crux of Derrida’s motivation for creative freedom through the understanding that the dominant discourse has limited writing to a tension between ‘literature’ and ‘truth’. For Derrida, there need not be any such limitation. The frame
in ‘These Are Not Poems’ is determined by the gallery in which they were first displayed. This widening, shifting and general re-appropriation of the conceptualization of the frame which surrounds any given piece of work comes into play here as Norwood breaks through the linear framework of the page. It can be seen that this literary framework is represented through the solid, black, horizontal shelving on which the wire stands. It is, therefore, as though the shelves, a metaphor for the lines of the page, are emblematic of a historical frame of rigidity, the straightjacket of the page which contains text. The curvaceous fluidity of the wire acts as if irrelevant to its frame, whilst simultaneously balancing on its structural foundation. It is as though the textual “freeplay” within is grounded by its constructed former, but breaks away from the dominant logos by running off and out and over the lines that have the potential to imprison its movement. It is important to note, that in the body of this essay, ‘These Are Not Poems’ are re-framed, photographically, in order to conform to the dominant means of communication and reproduction of such pieces of artwork, and thus, in true Derridean thinking, there is a tension between the “iterability” of this work in a new context and the threat of a limiting, unauthorized duplication. Consequently, through its iteration, the contextual frame is shifted, from the gallery to wall and back to the page. It is as though by reproducing and critiquing Norwood’s work one attempts to reconstruct the deconstructed.