Madeline Gins's Visionary Cybernetics – 马德琳-金斯和第039;幻想控制论

Feature - 18 Apr 2018

Madeline Gins's Visionary Cybernetics

An exhibition of the work of the late Madeline Gins reveals an artist, architect and poet who pushed language into intensely imaginative and speculative realms

By Lucy Ives

In the spring of 1969, the poet and artist Madeline Gins, then in her late 20s, joined a collaborative effort to make artworks and writing on the streets of Manhattan. With John Giorno, Lucy Lippard, Adrian Piper and Hannah Weiner, among others, she contributed to the final issue of Vito Acconci and Bernadette Mayer’s legendary magazine 0 to 9, which took the form of a supplement titled Street Works. Gins’s submission was a ‘group novel’ for which she asked the reader to ‘Please finish these sentences and return this paper,’ with the ultimate goal of creating ‘a group novel, an historical novel, an exploration of the nature of consciousness’. Also included in Street Works were photographs by Gins and her husband and collaborator, the painter Shusaku Arakawa, of a stylized house floor plan, laid out on a plastic sheet that could be unfolded on the sidewalk. This floor plan also  appears in the endpapers of Gins’s first book, WORD RAIN: Or, a Discursive Introduction to the Philosophical Investigation of G,R,E,T,A, G,A,R,B,O, It Says (1969), suggesting a connection between the exploration undertaken in Street Works and WORD RAIN’s ecstatic experimental prose.


Madeline Gins's Visionary Cybernetics - 马德琳-金斯和第039;幻想控制论

Madeline Gins


If you don’t already know who Gins is, the above may sound somewhat academic. It’s another account of fascinating, if minor, permutations in the history of conceptualism in the US, adding some small complexity to the narrative surrounding the anti-lyric poetry of Acconci, along with that of the likes of Dan Graham and Douglas Huebler. Gins was barely better known in US poetry circles than she was in the realms of contemporary art, and her brilliant reimaginings of the American novel and poem have largely been ignored. WORD RAIN – one of the most important works of experimental prose of the later 20th century – is at once refreshingly and depressingly spared academic commentary. Gins’s books are out of print and she has few champions. Though this spring’s ‘Eternal Gradient’ – an exhibition at Columbia University’s Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery – revisits collaborative sketches by Arakawa and Gins from the 1980s and, though Arakawa is now represented by Gagosian Gallery, Gins herself is not widely noted or remembered. 

The reasons for this amnesia are manifold. It’s pointless to linger on the obvious: Gins was female, straight and seems to have taken the exigencies of marriage fairly seriously. Secondly, many histories of poetry’s relationship with conceptualism have tended to focus on the static materiality of language, to the detriment of descriptions of interactivity. Though there are exceptions, conceptualism’s role as critical capstone to trajectories of US art, including modernism and minimalism, has entailed the reduction of language to ‘a kind of object’, as critic Liz Kotz has  written. Accounts of language-based conceptualism emphasizing what the artist Roy Ascott, in his 1966 essay ‘Behaviourist Art and the Cybernetic Vision’, termed ‘the field of behaviour’, are rarer.


Madeline Gins's Visionary Cybernetics - 马德琳-金斯和第039;幻想控制论

Madeline Gins, Title page of WORD RAIN, 1969, Grossman Publishers, New York

Unlike the ‘group novels’ of Huebler and Andy Warhol, Gins’s project was not a site for the confession of secrets and gossip. It was concerned with getting the reader to act. Like Acconci’s poetry, which played with the instructive nature of writing and punctuation marks to explore their possibilities, or Graham’s Poem (1966), a schema and list of  ‘materials’ for the creation of a poem, Gins’s early writing was self-reflexive but also did something more. In WORD RAIN, she directly engaged the cybernetic qualities of  conceptualism by deploying sentences and prose fragments as means for holistic control of discourse, the human body and social relations, confusing the agency of the writer with that of the reader. This occurred in a manner that reflected Gins’s literary and transdisciplinary concerns, resulting in what might be termed a ‘visionary cybernetics’: her  interest in systems and communication often went beyond descriptions of what is merely possible into intensely  imaginative and speculative realms. Gins treated the slow dawning of the computer age as an incitement to produce art.Throughout WORD RAIN, there are references to both the act of reading and the act of writing. But the speaker of the sentences is not quite the writer, nor is she quite the reader. ‘She’ is someone who exists in relation to words and who is aware of the possibility of reading as well as the possibility of writing. ‘She’ is aware of the possibility of sensing writing – whether looking at it, touching it, dwelling in it or even, at times, smelling or tasting it:

Read this with me, read that with me, read me with me, read objects (tables, toes, toads, tails, tin, trains, type, tears, throat) read write read right. This is still life. Only I write and read. If you’ve misplaced me on your own, bring me up again from off this page […] I give you this book for a present. It comes with a room, light, a country, sky and weather. I will arrange for you to be made aware of these in detail. You may look at everything. You will see only what I see. Look at this sentence.

Whereas much late-20th-century US experimental writing is myopically concerned with the linguistic turn (a recognition of the arbitrary and systematic nature of the shapes of letters, as well as the sounds and forms of words), Gins’s narration in WORD RAIN places unusual emphasis on the experience of being, simultaneously, a producer and  receiver of writing. Experience – tactile, olfactory, temporal, visual, etc. – is folded into Gins’s sentences; the sentences, in turn, produce such experience, which must be (re)described in a sort of feedback loop. WORD RAIN might thus be a memoir of the present, of the very instant of writing, a sort of homeostatic temporality occasionally difficult to differentiate from a biochemical mix that includes the body of the reader/writer as well as the interface of the page.



Madeline Gins's Visionary Cybernetics - 马德琳-金斯和第039;幻想控制论

Arakawa and Madeline Gins, study for Critical Holder, 1990, acrylic, graphite and colour pencil on paper, 1.1 x 1.5 m. Courtesy: the Estate of Madeline Gins and Columbia GSAPP; photograph: Nicholas Knight

WORD RAIN has no direct American literary antecedents. Though it superficially recalls various forms of stream-of-consciousness writing or Gertrude Stein’s bristling syntax, its strategies are specific to its phenomenological obsession with the reception of writing that occurs even, and especially, in the very midst of writing. This interest in what Gins describes as the flickering, oozing ‘Chaplinesque persistence of consciousness’, as recorded in and affected by the work of art, is not easily reconciled with modernism’s obsession with literary form and the dramatic upending of academic categories. Nor does Gins’s work dovetail neatly with postwar late-modernist and postmodern literary experimentation. One can’t quite group her with John Cage or Jackson Mac Low, who were so deeply concerned with chance operations and collage; Yoko Ono’s fluxus tasks are, meanwhile, more meticulous in their articulation. Though there are some resemblances between WORD RAIN’s complex sentences and those of poets such as Lyn Hejinian, Bernadette Mayer and Leslie Scalapino, perhaps the most convincing analogue is Gins’s friend, the poet Hannah Weiner. A cybernetically inclined writer and performer, Weiner has, of late, had her work translated from the page to the gallery, notably in a 2015 retrospective at Kunsthalle Zürich. In a piece titled ‘Transspace Communication’ (1969, written to accompany  performances of her ‘Code Poems’), Weiner cogently  observes: ‘The amount of information available has more than doubled since World War II. In the next ten years, it will double again. How do we deal with it?’ She continues: ‘At the moment, I am interested in exploring methods of communication through space; considering space as space fields or space solids; through great distances of space; through small distance, such as the space between the nucleus and the electrons of an atom; through distances not ordinarily related to the form of communication used.’

Weiner treats the poem as a tactical event, an act of communication that occurs ‘through great distances  of space’. The ‘Code Poems’ themselves, which were published in 1982, contain lists of flag signals, typically used to transmit messages at sea. Her appropriation of maritime technology reimagines the flag hoist as a noisy, lyric gesture; previously precise code becomes the seed of a form of address that cannot be assigned a single interpretation. One excellent short poem, ‘CHW Pirates’, runs:

CDJ I was plundered by a pirate
CJF Describe the pirate
CJN She is armed
CJP How is she armed?
CJS She has long guns
CJW I have no long guns
BLD I am a complete wreck

Here, the colloquialism ‘to be an emotional wreck’ receives a rough etymological (and romantic) reading. This string of signals is to be imagined as performable – indeed, even potentially performed – as the poem is read. While Gins’s sentences in WORD RAIN are more concerned with the time of writing in domestic space, they make similar claims regarding the significance of spaces and technologies of communication and the ever-increasing amounts of information available. WORD RAIN’s sentences are complexes of signals that transmit and confuse sensation, allowing the reader to become an energetic receiver, an accumulator, a transformer – even and, most visionary of all, the avatar of the writer.


Madeline Gins's Visionary Cybernetics - 马德琳-金斯和第039;幻想控制论

Madeline Gins, What the President Will Say and Do!!, 1984, Station Hill Press, New York

Given her somatic and cybernetic obsessions – trans-disciplinary concerns if ever there were such – it is additionally difficult to categorize Gins in a professional sense, whether as poet, writer or artist. Though she went on to include lineated poetry in her 1984 collection, What the President Will Say and Do!!, she returned to prose for 1994’s Helen Keller or Arakawa: a book that, like WORD RAIN, stretches the category of ‘novel’ in highly original directions. In each of these works, Gins blends keen observations about the activity of consciousness, language and syntax – as well as her own body and environment – with wry humour regarding the oddness of the very existence of meaning. As we see from the title of her second novel, Gins’s collaborative relationship with Arakawa became increasingly central to her work; poetry was a space in which she devoted herself to depicting the interrelationship of consciousness with physical and biochemical processes. Indeed, if readers of this piece know of Gins, it is likely that they know her through her collaboration with Arakawa. Together, they founded the Reversible Destiny Foundation and produced the well-known installation piece and publication series ‘The Mechanism of Meaning’ (1963–73/1978/1988/1997). Though Gins was a prescient thinker – who foresaw ways in which changes in popular media and technologies would collapse traditional disciplinary and social boundaries, transforming everyday life – her role at the centre of an architectural firm devoted to creating environments that were conceived to prevent inhabitants and visitors from dying has sometimes overshadowed her other achievements. Belief in the possibility of immortality seems hubristic, if not delusional, to many – even in the age of research and development companies such as Calico, who are actively seeking solutions to ‘combat ageing and associated diseases’. 

Yet, Gins’s achievement as an experimental writer was enormous. Distinct from her artistic and architectural collaborations with Arakawa, her writings provide a vital terminological and metaphysical influence, particularly as they comment relentlessly upon acts of perception. It is not possible to state with certainty whether some or all of the words that appear in Arakawa’s paintings were contributed by Gins, but it makes sense to open the door to such an interpretation. WORD RAIN introduces notions about the interrelation between language and sensation that are taken up again in Helen Keller or Arakawa with new emphasis on the possibility of mapping experience by means other than hearing and sight. This transition – from exploring the interrelated acts of writing and reading in WORD RAIN to asserting how the world can be diff erently perceived and, therefore, inhabited, in Helen Keller or Arakawa – is key to Gins’s participation in the Reversible Destiny project, as well as to her earlier collaboration with Arakawa on ‘The Mechanism of Meaning’. Gins reimagined the English sentence to enact a way of perceiving the world that would challenge the perceiver, helping them to evade the enervating sensory and spatial habits of contemporary life. She saw the sentence as at once spatial, temporal and shot through with servers (i.e. words).

Madeline Gins (1941–2014) was born in New York, USA. ‘Arakawa and Madeline Gins: Eternal Gradient’ is on view at Columbia University’s Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery, New York, until 16 June. Gins’s final work, Biotopological Scale-Juggling Escalator (2013), is on permanent view at Dover Street Market, New York.

This article appears in the print edition of frieze, May 2018, issue 195, with the title Visionary Cybernetics.

Main image: Arakawa and Madeline Gins, drawing for Container of Perceiving (detail)1984, acrylic, watercolour and graphite on paper, 1.1 x 1.8 m. Courtesy: the Estate of Madeline Gins and Columbia GSAPP; photograph: Nicholas Knight

Lucy Ives

Lucy Ives is the author of Impossible Views of the World (2017) as well as several books of poetry and short prose. Her second novel, Loudermilk, or the Real Poet, or the Origin of the World, will be published in 2019. She is currently fellow-in-residence at the Center for Experimental Humanities, New York University, USA.

Madeline Gins
Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery
New York
Lucy Ives

Issue 195

First published in Issue 195

May 2018

特征18 APR 2018 Maldin Gin和039;幻想的控制论:Madeline Gins后期作品的展示展示了一个艺术家、建筑师和诗人,他把语言推向了充满想象和推测的领域。在1969春季的Lucy Ives,诗人和艺术家Madeline Gins,在她20多岁的时候,加入了合作的努力,在曼哈顿的街道上创作艺术品和写作。与John Giorno,Lucy Lippard,Adrian Piper和Hannah Weiner,其中,她有助于Vito Acconci和Bernadette Mayer的传奇杂志0至9的问题,采取了一个补充名为街道作品的形式。金斯的作品是一部“集体小说”,她要求读者“请把这些句子写下来并归还这篇论文”,最终目的是“创作一部集体小说,一部历史小说,探索意识的本质”。在街道作品中还包括Gins和她的丈夫和合作者,画家Shusaku Arakawa,一个程式化的房子奥尔计划,布置在塑料板上,可以在人行道上展开。这一平面图也出现在GIN的第一本书,Word Rain的文章中,或者,是对G、R、E、T、A、G、A、R、B、O的哲学考察的一个散漫的介绍,它说(1969),暗示了在街道作品中进行的探索与Word Rain的狂喜体验之间的联系。散文散文F.JPG Madeline Gins's Visionary Cybernetics - 马德琳-金斯和第039;幻想控制论 MADLIN GIN。如果你还不知道Gin是谁,以上听起来可能有点学术性。这是另一个有趣的,如果是小的,在美国的概念主义的历史排列,增加了一些复杂的叙事围绕阿克塞尼反抒情诗,连同Dan Graham和Douglas Huebler的喜欢。在美国诗歌界,金斯比她在当代艺术领域里更鲜为人知,她对美国小说和诗歌的重新想象在很大程度上被忽视了。词雨是二十世纪后期实验散文最重要的作品之一,它既令人耳目一新,又令人沮丧地避免了学术评论。金斯的书绝版了,她几乎没有冠军。虽然这个春天的“永恒的梯度”——哥伦比亚大学亚瑟罗斯建筑画廊的展览——从20世纪80年代的荒川和金斯重新审视了合作草图,尽管荒川现在以加戈施安美术馆为代表,但她自己并没有被广泛地注意或记住。这个健忘症的原因是多方面的。在显而易见的事情上徘徊是没有意义的:金斯是女性,直截了当,似乎对婚姻的迫切性相当重视。其次,诗歌的许多历史与概念主义的关系往往集中于语言的静态物质性,损害了交互的描述。虽然有例外,概念主义作为美国艺术的轨迹的关键顶点,包括现代主义和极简主义,已经把语言还原成一种“对象”,正如批评家Liz Kotz所写的那样。以语言为基础的概念主义的叙述强调了艺术家Roy Ascott在他的1966篇散文《行为主义艺术和控制论视野》中被称为“行为领域”的东西。D.JPG Madeline Gins's Visionary Cybernetics - 马德琳-金斯和第039;幻想控制论 Madeline Gins,标题雨页,1969,格罗斯曼出版商,纽约不同于“HueBeLeor和安迪·沃霍尔集团小说”,金斯的项目不是一个秘密和流言的口供网站。它关心的是让读者行动起来。就像Acconci的诗歌,它发挥了写作和标点符号的指导性质来探索它们的可能性,或者Graham的诗(1966),一个图式和“诗歌”材料的列表,金斯的早期写作是自我反思,但也做了更多的事情。在《雨》中,她直接运用概念主义的控制论品质,将句子和散文片段作为整体控制话语、身体和社会关系的手段,混淆了作者与读者的代理关系。这是以一种方式重新认识GIN的文学和跨学科的关注,导致所谓的“视觉控制论”:她对系统和通信的兴趣往往超出了对可能的东西的描述,而是将其变成了强烈的想象和推测。主动领域。金斯把计算机时代的缓慢曙光当作一种刺激来产生艺术。在整个词雨中,都有阅读行为和写作行为的参照。但这句话的演讲者并不完全是作家,也不是读者。她是一个与文字相关的人,他意识到阅读的可能性以及写作的可能性。她意识到了感知写作的可能性——无论是看着它,触摸它,居住在那里,有时甚至闻到或品尝它:读我的书,读我的书,读我的书,读物体(桌子,脚趾,蟾蜍,尾巴,锡,火车,类型,眼泪,喉咙)读写。广告是正确的。这仍然是生活。我只写和读。如果你把我放错了地方,把我从这页上拿出来……我给你这本书作为礼物。它有一个房间,灯光,一个国家,天空和天气。我会安排你们详细了解这些情况。你可以看看一切。你只会看到我所看到的。看这个句子。20世纪后期美国的实验性写作与语言学转向(对字母形状的任意性和系统性的认识,以及文字的声音和形式)的关系密切相关,而在《雨》中,金斯的叙述则特别强调了经验。同时是生产者和接收者的写作。经验-触觉、嗅觉、时间、视觉等被折叠成金斯的句子;句子反过来又产生这样的经验,这些经验必须用一种反馈回路来描述。偶尔的时间性有时难以区分,包括生物化学混合体,包括读者/作者的身体以及页面的界面。WebasARKAWAWAWAGAND和GIPS-NIKOLASKAKYHT-1603EDY CMYK.JPG WPAP6023 602IMG AkaWaa和Madeline Gins,研究的关键持有人,1990,丙烯酸,石墨和彩色铅笔在纸上,1.1×1.5米礼貌:Madeline Gins和哥伦比亚GSAPP的财产;PH:尼古拉斯爵士词“雨”没有直接的美国文学先行词。虽然它表面地回忆了各种形式的意识流写作或格特鲁德·斯坦的刺耳的句法,但是它的策略是特定于它对现象的迷恋,甚至对写作的接受,尤其是在写作的过程中。这种兴趣被认为是被艺术作品所记录和影响的闪烁、渗出的“卓别林式意识的持久性”,与现代主义对文学形式的迷恋和学术范畴的戏剧性颠覆并不容易调和。金斯的作品也与战后晚期现代派和后现代文学实验巧妙地契合。一个人不能把她和John Cage或Jackson Mac Low一起,他们非常关心机会操作和拼贴;Yoko Ono的流畅任务在发音上更细致。尽管“雨”的复句与Lyn Hejinian、Bernadette Mayer和Leslie Scalapino等诗人有一些相似之处,但最令人信服的比喻也许是金斯的朋友,诗人Hannah Weiner。一个有控制倾向的作家和表演者Weiner,最近,她的作品从网页翻译成画廊,特别是在昆萨勒Zu富有的2015个回顾。Weiner在一篇题为《跨界通讯》(1969)的文章中写道:“从第二次世界大战以来,可获得的信息量已经增加了一倍多。”在未来十年,它将再次翻番。我们该怎么处理呢?她继续说:“此刻,我感兴趣的是探索通过空间进行通信的方法,把空间看成是空间场或空间固体;通过空间的很远距离;通过小距离,比如原子核和原子之间的空间;通过距离。韦纳将诗歌视为一种战术事件,一种通过空间的“距离”发生的交流行为。在1982出版的“代码诗”本身包含了标志信号列表,通常用于在海上传送消息。她对航海技术的研究将国旗升降机想象成一种嘈杂、抒情的姿态;以前精确的代码变成了一种称呼形式的种子,不能被赋予一种解释。一首优秀的短诗“Chun海盗”,运行:CDJ我被掠夺的海盗WPA60300 3BR CJF描述海盗WPAP60300 3BR CJN她武装WPAP60300 3BR CJP她是如何武装的?WPA60603BR CJS,她有长枪WPA60603BR CJW我没有长枪WPA60603BR BLD我是一个完整的沉船这里,口语“是一个情感沉船”收到一个粗略的词源(和浪漫)阅读。这串信号是可以想象的,实际上,甚至是潜在的,因为这首诗是读的。在《雨》中,金斯的句子更关注写作在国内空间的时间,他们对空间和通信技术的重要性以及日益增多的信息量提出了类似的主张。单词Rain的句子是发送和混淆的信号的复合体。


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