James T. Green is a conceptual artist, radio producer, writer, and educator from Chicago, Illinois, and now in Brooklyn, New York.

thoughts + feelings

49: The Ebb and Flow of Editing

For weeks I’ve stared at the same bit of text. It expanded then contracted, mutating into a sea of smilies and synonyms. My second solo exhibition will be in a few months, and having captivating show text is as important as the work itself. It’s the hook into your exhibition, the entry point for an audience, the advertising copy that accompanies press. It’s a multi-faceted piece that has to be pondered with care and done right.

Writing and editing text takes time and many drafts, as beautifully outlined multiple timesfrom the folks at Basecamp. Here are links to the versions that my show text went through before reaching the final product that will be submitted by the time you read this.

Version 0 was the first batch of free writing that I did with the phrase, “how honor, memory, and action are reflected in the digital age”, being the first line that started it all. It existed as a series of one-liners that sat in my notes app, freely writing ideas as they came along in my head. I also shopped around this rough text to three other artists that gave their opinions for starting structure through in-person studio visits or Skype calls.

Version 01 was the result of padding sentences around the raw statements crafted in Version 0. I was starting to fall in love with the manifesto-style text in the first paragraph, but still plowed through some of the clunkier areas (i.e. all the other paragraphs).

Version 02 is when the heavy editing started to take place. My darling manifesto introduced in the last version did not make it to this round, but the text became more condensed and assertive. The second paragraph wrapped around a phrase that made its way from Version 0, “The mind is filled with so much input that there desires an internal need for output”.

Version 03 is where I introduced a very trusted editor, my partner C’ne, into the process. Sentences were removed, chopped, and screwed as we went through each sentence and questioned their necessity. If it wasn’t needed, it was removed. If it wasn’t accessible, it was modified. The goal was to make a short piece of text that was assertive, dominate, accessible to both academics and casual viewers, and have zero filler. Below is the final text.

The internet is the equalizer. Conversations by news sources conflict with bystanders on site with a camera. Online technologies are used to document and honor fallen members of communities.

A widely shared image becomes the memorial. Memories are off-loaded to digital devices. Honor is served with virtual acts of protest. Life is dedicated to pondering the actions and reactions of others. Minds are filled with input; the body desires an output.

In “exceptional/respectable”, conceptual artist James T. Green’s work becomes his visceral output towards the barrage of the 24 hour news cycle, respectability politics, and the conflict between contemplation and action.

Exhibition dates will be announced soon.

Thanks for reading,

-James

James T. Green