Image 04: The Author as Site

Laura (Riding) Jackson Home, Orchid Island, Fla. Photo (c) Barrett Watten 2009.

At various points in my lectures on Laura (Riding) Jackson last November, I suggested that her work could be compared to the literal monument that the LRJ Home Preservation Project had displaced and transported from its original site in Wabasso, across the Intercoastal Waterway to Orchid Island. (Riding) Jackson’s work on language suggests an overarching project of meaning as “site,” with the act of rational definition, perhaps, plotting its contours. Although their lives and works are very unlike, I would suggest Robert Smithson as another artist concerned to make his oeuvre a “site,” given the syntax of situatedness and displacement in his specific pieces, and elsewhere have proposed a notion of “site construction” as generated by new logics of genre in digital media. The Grand Piano is also a “site” for the construction of present meanings from displaced content in this sense, as is the present website. Each of these projects have, in turn, analogies with Smithson’s site/nonsite and (Riding) Jackson’s language/home interfaces. Finally, I imagine the “author” itself as a site under construction, a dialectical synthesis of location and elsewhere.

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