A Fine Line: Some things from my notes maybe for the essay

I’m writing an essay about Tamarin Norwood’s new work A Fine Line (here’s some background), which I commissioned as part of ICA@50: Pleasing Artists and Publics Since 1963.

Some sentences popped out from free-written notes made on a 2-hour flight from Philadelphia to Chicago, on route to the CAA digital humanities unconference:

Call and response seem important to the work and to the ways I will read the work. Tamarin’s response to Martin, my response to Martin, my response to Tamarin, our conversation; all of our responses to each other.

Anachronism describes the relationship between the physical archive—stored in ordered, dated folders—and the digital archive, in which it all gets slammed together. It’s about the website [icaphila.org] as a whole: thematic rather than driven by chronology.

In its digital form the moving line takes on, at once, some of the qualities of the roving graphite stick (it’s black and approximately the width of the pencil) and of the drawn line (it moves at a similar speed). The digital line is the line that draws itself: it is both maker and mark.

I like the way the sound of the drawing comes up when the graphic line is proceeding. I also find it a little bit embarrassing and also quite funny. The humor of the piece is striking, slight. I’m not sure how to express what this humor is or why it’s important. It’s funny that these dry, formal(ist) questions are still in play—it’s funny to take a line this seriously. And I see that in Martin too—that the response of most viewers to Desert, 1961, was laughter.

I love the way we infer the presence of the hand in A Fine Line. The hand is SO important but we don’t see it. If we saw Tamarin’s hand, the whole thing would turn hopelessly camp.