The Portal

Memory House

Photograph by Kate Watson Wallace.

You don’t just read it: You hear it, hang it, feel it, fly it, sniff it, fold it, wear it, shake it, even project it on your living room wall. —Phyllis Johnson, founder of Aspen Magazine

[Book as] an enclosure or provisional park for an already existing wilderness that cannot definitively be contained. —Rendell Olsen

This module invites students to organize and build a reading room that is multisensory in form. Claiming a space not typically reserved for performance’s ephemerality, or its unruliness, this project returns to the enclosed space of books as a generative constraint for wildness. Expanding modes of reading, we will explore the movements between orality, textuality, visuality, and tactility, understanding there is no primary way to “read” a thing.

Guiding questions include: How can performance expand practices of reading? How can we learn from the way performers approach language and notation, utilizing one’s body to access words and ideas? What are the movements in and out of oral traditions and textual forms? What is an embodied document or resource? How can language act as a retrieval system for the senses? When and how does language fail? What about the non-semantic uses of language like concrete poetry? What about the construction of personal coding and notation systems?

The reading room may integrate multidimensional forms and formats that engage visual, aural, tactile, temporal, olfactory, and kinetic registers, along with traditional publishing and or public programming components taken up in a non-traditional way. The space for carrying out this project is The Portal, 1923 8th Avenue in Lenapehoking, Brooklyn, New York.