Thesis Process Journals

An ongoing documentation of my process in creating my final thesis project towards my BFA in Graphic Design at the Maine College of Art.

Week Seven

Conversation with Vincent Greco, fellow design major and fellow deconstructionist theory companion.

2/26/17 2:18 PM

ME: So, can you have subject without form?

No! I mean form without subject.

I've been thinking about this for too long.

VG: Hahaha oh no!

Why wouldn't you be able to have form without subject?

Maybe from the post-humanist perspective I guess you couldn't?

ME: I’m trying to make form without subject. My question comes down to: how do you render something without using words as an intermediary unit of recognition. So its not a total absence of subject I’m looking for, its just the absence of what we regularly understand to be the subject. Or what we regularly understand the construct of the subject to be.

I’m finding the subject to be a contentious little piece of my puzzle

The subject feels like a fairly consciously constructed entity. What is consciously constructed is forged in some manifestation of linguistic awareness. If I am trying to subvert linguistic models of representation, it might not be my project to deal with subject--but then the question becomes, how do you represent form without subject? What is the content of the form if it is not consciously constructed, and how do you develop a codification system to represent something so abstract. What does that look like?

VG: Can't you still subvert an existing linguistic model by replacing it with a new structure? I think that if your goal is subversion and alternative representation of a system in place than you don't have a problem. But I think if your goal is to create forms devoid of subjectivity it may be an impossible task. Your own subjectivity is inherently injected in whatever you might produce, right? Even if you escaped that paradox by programming a code that could randomize the production of forms, I think they would still be the product of the subject that is the code.

ME: Right, (also that whole authorial god complex in coding is super interesting).

VG: A randomizing code like that would be awesome and I think the visual, formal product would be interesting. But maybe it's a project for another time

ME: Which was the old project (and hopefully the future project), and I think that the replacement structure model has since been the objective framework of this project, the function being mostly of comparative emphasis.

VG: I'm under the assumption that the only plausible way for you to subvert the linguistic system is to form an analogous system, a key, that is not comprehensible upon first glance. Like a visual language that nobody knows except for you. In a sense, it is so steeped in subjectivity that I think that's one of the main components of your project

ME: Right, exactly. This is where the “what is regularly understood to be the construct of the subject” comes in, though. I am not trying to refrain all together from subjectivity, what I am trying to represent is an alternate strata of subjectivity. It’s a component of the same subjectivity, but it is one that is mostly shadowed out by linguistic models of recognition. It is a slice of subjectivity which is formed outside of consciously constructed models, and which is defined by some model which forces you to question the process of conscious construction.

I’m going to follow this up with an example:

When a child learns to “write” the very early phases of their mark-making are not language-centric, they are gesture and stimulus-centric, which is (by comparison to our writing) a very abstract brand of knowledge. But it is an embodied form of knowledge nonetheless. It’s essentially a codification of bodily expression, maybe only a system by virtue that it is the same subjectivity which is producing all of it: lacking pattern, structure, or even conscious intention. This is obviously something I can’t replicate, because there is no way for me to go back to the way that baby’s brain operates, but what I’m looking for is some model which allows me to pin meaning to another process not dependent on words to generate meaning, or deliver information/knowledge.

What I’m looking to do is develop a unit of meaning that has a broader diffusion of information behind it. Words, and especially our words, funnel everything into such a narrow scope that it is so totally possible for us to miss what exists outside of them. But what exactly exists outside them is a paradoxical sort of investigation, one that is still so critically unresolved, and most immediately deterring--one which I have so much further to go in understanding. Trying to render the unconscious forces which slip betwen the cracks of our recognition (kind of like light outside the visible spectrum is how I imagine it) is a project so much more intensive than the time or faculties I have to dedicate to it right now. It makes me excited for the future, which is really really cool, but I think I need to do some serious revision to the operational framework of my current project.

Mollie EnnisComment