Soundings, 2009

Collage; 108” x 42” (274cm x 107cm)


In this collage I am working with visual elements in order to represent sounds – soundings.
The background in this collage is from the proclamation of Hangeul, Korea’s official language, a language that was given to the people by King Sejong during the mid-15th Century to replace Chinese writing (1443/1446). I found this paper on a market in Seoul, Korea.

Letters corresponding to sounds is the visual representation of the spoken word, a powerful tool in forming a culture. Transcending the oral to the visual. In this particular case I find it very fascinating that this happened on a specific date – what a monumental change for a society.

In this work I am using the text as a representation of the sea - Cosmic fish on the cosmic sea. As a child I saw a huge 700-pound halibut, still alive, conscious, lying on the wharf and looking at me. It was the most awesome thing I had ever seen. To date we don’t know what shape the universe is, so, to me, it might as well be the shape of a halibut. As that, it is a recurring motif in my work.

(Please see also Cosmic Fish) The cosmic fish, when reflecting on itself becomes representations of eyes. The elastic cord embedded under the text, is like a fuse and a depth string as well. It is a tool in order to sound the depth (nautical term sounding) and in this collage it is as well representing the horizon. I have used dressmakers elastic on and off in my work since 1968.

“Soundings” is for me a rather complex piece. It reminds me of a time in western culture when it was illegal to read the written word silently in libraries in Rome. I often think that if you write the word “I” and read it out loud, the sound vibrates from your body. It is a social act. However, when you read it silently, in a way you separate your body from your mind and then you take it back in again, without the sound waves radiating into the Cosmos. Reading silently is a personal act – not a social act.
“Soundings” is a musing on the meaning and the physical manifestation of language to the individual and the collective.

John Greer
West Dublin, NS


Bus Shelter in Halifax with retroActive poster!
Thinking Back to Gertrude and Henrie, 2015
Installation View retroActive with Threshold, 2015; Civilization, 1990/91; PaperMoney, 2012
Wait of Water by John Greer, 2014 Bay of Fundy Detail of Wait of Water, October 9th, 2014; retroActive tied up, tide down, looking back across the bay where the piece was first realized in 1972
National Gallery of Canada : THE PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE
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