Text As Inquiry Into The Laws And Rules Of Lines And Curves: Artist Adam Daley Wilson
Text as art, and in art, has a rich art history of sufficient depth so as to be beyond the scope of this short article here. This article makes a narrow observation to be integrated into the history of text art in further posts: What if an artist uses text not as language, nor as an abstraction of language, nor even to explore the boundary line between the intelligible and unintelligible — the cognitively substantive and semantic, on the one hand, and the visually and conceptually abstract, on the other hand? Stated differently, what if the use of text by an artist is not a function of substantive meaning, or language, but rather an intention of a different inquiry — the laws and rules of the most basic geometric mark — the line and the curve.
Adam Daley Wilson works almost exclusively in text — text that always has substantive meaning, whether legible or whether impossible to read. But it appears his text works are also about something else, apart from their layers of material (their overwriting), their layers of meaning (their narratives, their arguments, their propositions), and their layers of references (sometimes up to fifty, across art histories of times and cultures, contemporary events, political histories, philosophies across continents and cultures, natural laws, and more) — they appear to also be experiments in creating visual works solely of basic lines and curves, placed on the canvas not by the artist’s brushstroke, but by the rules of how lines and curves must exist, and relate, in a given language.
The lines in the capital letter “E” in the English language follow rules — rules of simple geometry: Lines both parallel to each other and perpendicular to the root. The curves in the letter “s” whether or capitalized or not are dictated in their diameters, circumferences, and symmetry by rules of geometry as well — laws and rules sounding in mathematical equations dating back to Euclid (Euclidean Geometry) during the times of Ancient Greece.
Can the creation of visual works transcending rules and laws — transcending into the abstract and apparently lawless — arise organically from the furious scribbling of letters in the English language — any language — that are true to the rules and laws of each letter itself in the text? This appears to be one of the layers of inquiry in the artist’s works.