Notes in/troducing Englyph in current issue of Shotgun Reviews

Click the image for an introduction to Englyph

Visualize walking into a restaurant and being handed a menu in a foreign language. Most individuals would request a menu that they could read. For Tim Roseborough, such a menu served as the impetus for his latest work: Notes In/troducing Englyph. Much like the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, Roseborough examines human perception and understanding of language. Meanings and judgments within language frame our collective understanding and dictate our experience and engagement with one another. From texting to answering e-mail messages to updating a status on a social networking application, many of our activities are text-based and almost automatic. Yet, what does the cognitive process look like when a reader is confronted with an unfamiliar visual language or text? In Notes In/troducing Englyph, print publication plays an integral role in how the message is carried, received, and perceived. In the same vein as Lynda Benglis, Robert Morris, and Dan Graham, Roseborough utilizes the distinct venue of the magazine advertisement to serve as a platform for exhibition and interaction with the public.

Though Englyph is a logographic language, it is also a text-based art form derived from English. The system taps into a human desire to understand the foreign. The audience visits a web site noted at the bottom right hand corner of the advertisement. Scrolling over the Englyph characters reveals Roman alphabet text. As the interactivity translates into familiar text, the meaning of the Englyph characters becomes a part of an inquiry and possible deductive attempts at de-coding this new visual language. A viewer’s inherent curiosity stems from an inclination to learn the language and is reinforced after the user encounters the English translation, which serves as a reference point. This is key in understanding the concept of Englyph. On a web site or graphics on a blog, all of the images and formatting are created with programming language configured for relatively easy visual perception and understanding. Roseborough eradicates this ease for the viewer. The work is challenging to understand and this is the very reason that its interactive nature plays such an integral role in its comprehensibility.

Another interesting aspect entails the distinct form and presentation of Notes In/troducing Englyph. Interactive art uses an approach that reverses the act of consumption, and Roseborough requires a bit of work on the viewer’s end. The product, to some degree, is unknown. Rosenborough’s unique venture forces the viewer or reader to question where the art object is actually embedded. Is it in the magazine, the advertisement itself, or in the virtual space where Englyph is translated into English? Unlike the work of his predecessors, Roseborough’s involves active questioning and engagement that supersedes retinal activity. It suggests the beginning of a new wave of text-based art. Instead of using  the magazine advertisement page as a means of tapping into the audience’s retinal sensibility, Roseborough uses Englyph to take this form of exhibition into uncharted territory, where the reader explores or relinquishes the desire to understand images alone.

Originally posted to Shotgun Reviews on Art Practical, please click here to view.

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Author: Dorothy R. Santos

Dorothy R. Santos (b. 1978) is a Filipina-American writer, editor, curator, and educator whose research interests include new media and digital art, activism, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology. Born and raised in San Francisco, California, she holds Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of San Francisco, and received her Master’s degree in Visual and Critical Studies at the California College of the Arts. She serves as one of the editors-in-chief for Hyphen magazine. Her work appears in art21, Art Practical, Daily Serving, Rhizome, Hyperallergic, and SF MOMA's Open Space. She has lectured at the De Young museum, Stanford University, School of Visual Arts, and more. Her essay “Materiality to Machines: Manufacturing the Organic and Hypotheses for Future Imaginings,” was published in The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture (2016). She is currently a Yerba Buena Center for the Arts fellow researching the concept of citizenship. She also serves as executive staff for the Bay Area Society for Art & Activism and board member for the SOMArts Cultural Center.

5 thoughts on “Notes in/troducing Englyph in current issue of Shotgun Reviews”

  1. To write with such persistent focus, confident yet open, welcoming even, is not common. Embracing the “unknown product” is a contradiction and a rebellion. There is something poetic about this critique/this response. I appreciate the blogavista. I am wondering still, in classic child-form and in expensive-spectacle-frames form, how I, as a poet fit into this. Where will the storytellers gather? Pensive and trusting. Where do we go from here? By reading this, imagining this, an impression, an echo away…. By reading this, I feel the power of Roseborough’s invitation. Brave. Both of you.

    1. I love your comment about the ‘unknown product’ being both a ‘contradiction and a rebellion’. This product certainly, especially to our cognitive processes, suspends understanding and comprehension. Poets have developed a very special place in my heart because poets are the ultimate deconstructionists of language. Technically, there’s nothing a poet can’t do. Roseborough’s work is engaging and challenging because it is a foreign language. It takes hundreds and hundreds of years to develop a language system. This is just the beginning. The storytellers, the poets, and the writers pioneer how language and visual language can evolve or be re-contextualized. His work may also be an invitation in separating meanings from words or invite someone to create a variation (maybe even depending on their culture and environment)? Oh, the possibilities. This is up to the viewer/reader/interpreter…Thanks so much for being engaged. 🙂

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