a writing and architecture workshop

From Work to Text


Chris is a character invented by writer Todd Lamb as the fictional poster of a series of strange and light-hearted notes occasionally added to the streets of New York. It may not be considered a serious project but it is a good example of how writing can intersect with architecture. I was first reminded of it after coming across a quote from Roland Barthes, mentioned in Ellen Lupton’s Thinking with Type,

In his essay “From Work to Text,” the French critic Roland Barthes presented two opposing models of writing: the closed, fixed “work” versus the open, unstable “text.” In Barthes’s view, the work is a tidy neatly packaged object, proofread and copyrighted, made perfect and complete by the art of printing. The text, in contrast, is impossible to contain, operating across a dispersed web of standard plots and received ideas. Barthes pictured the text as “woven entirely with citations, references, echoes, cultural languages (what language is not?), antecedent and contemporary, which cut across and through in a vast stereophony… The metaphor of the text is that of the network.”

While Barthes may have not have been directly referring to the process of leaving post-it notes around the city, his words do envisage a diverse, non-linear and interactive concept of how a piece of writing might operate. There is the possibility for these “citations, references, echoes” to move beyond the space of the page and for the page to break away from the singular confines of the book.

It is the inspiration for one of the three projects to be completed as part of the WritingisBuilding workshop. This project will involve the infiltration of language directly into the city. It may take the form of a series of notes, poster and sign posts which form a map of connections between spaces and spaces, or spaces and people. A body of work which depending on how and when people discover each page tell and re-tell a completely different story.

In the meantime, here’s a link to an interview with Todd Lamb and his irrepressible Chris: http://laughingsquid.com/bizarre-notes-from-chris-posted-around-nyc-are-an-ongoing-prank/




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This entry was posted on July 9, 2012 by in architecture, EASA, media, text, writing and tagged , , , , , , , .
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