Reid Diamond | artist statement

Tangible Transparencies

I have been producing a series of language-based works that engage written narratives with their physical presentation. Stories that, when presented as sculptural works, embody their own spatial and material descriptions. In this way, my work is related to 'concrete poetry', the literary practice that involves pictorial and visceral conceptions of language. The difference is that my works embrace story-telling, and rarely appear on a page.

Earlier installations Tales of Two Empty Cabins (1992), The Gap (1994), and Mirage Motel (1996) were concerned with language and it's use in describing and inhabiting landscape. Glint, Glimmer, Glitch (1998), concerned itself with three descriptions of light in Canadian prairie settings (both rural and urban): natural, artificial, and phenomenological. Constructed of reflective glitter and glow paint, the viewer had to move through the gallery for the shimmering narratives to reveal their notion of space and time. Three Worlds Collide (1999), attempted a different sense of movement: the sensation of motion one can feel when standing (seemingly) still. Flashing light boxes, a limerick-laden train, and a mathematical language floor plan describing a dancer's position on the curve of the earth, helped evoke those sensations. Altered Flakes (2000), produced at Open Studio in Toronto, was a project that involved printing stories on the back of breakfast cereal boxes. The texts related to the contents, place of production, or packaging of the product. Chalk Lines, a project that was presented in September 2000, was a series of stories written on the sidewalks of downtown Toronto in, of course, chalk. At a word-a-foot, the tales will stretch for several blocks. All three stories relate to the immediate surroundings, and are presented in English, with translations in Spanish, Vietnamese and Mohawk.

Since working with the three translators on Chalk Lines, I developed ideas for a series of new works, using projected coloured lights with intertwined texts, that will use translations as a vehicle for exploring different concepts of transition, both physical and metaphorical. The intention is to present a series of narratives that physically shift and flow (languages include English, French, German and Inuit), changing form and colour according to the altered context. The interpretation is acknowledged. In Spanish, for example, there is no word for back lane. It could be a side street. The imagery evoked is different. A translation need not be a distorted mirror (as is often the case in the word-for-word model), but instead an acknowledgment of related senses. The story alters and shifts perspective. Reverberation occurs. In this way, it becomes a relationship: conversational as opposed to a reflected monologue.

Reid Diamond, 2000