Irma Clean and the drawing of essence


Irma Clean, Radical Writings, Exercitium, 1990, acrylic on card

Irma Clean wished to analyze the ‘Urzeichen’, or what she thought to be “the primordial, undifferentiated signal that precedes the phrase”. She determined to return to the ‘Ursprun’, or pure act of writing, a primeval communicative pressure that denuded writing of sense so as to cost it, like a battery, with pure latent power, or at the least this was my very own studying of what she was making an attempt to do. It was an concept that allowed me to drop the idea of ‘sense’ when it comes to phrases and change it with sense when it comes to power potential.
She put it like this; ‘I save writing from its enslavement to sense, by performing writing purified of sense. I return to the zero level, the semantic zero, the semantic void: silence as a germinating supply’. She additionally acknowledged that, ‘Writing is just not linked to realizing, however to being’. Irma Clean, Milan, 2001 (Accessed from:

As she drew she would make sounds. She usually labored at evening, the sounds made by transferring mark making supplies throughout and on to varied paper surfaces have been very important to her understanding of what she was doing. Her respiration making a rhythm that labored alongside the sounds of transferring markers, a state of affairs that might then set off extra sounds that started to drift into the areas between the mark indicators and the breath rhythm, sounds that might turn out to be ‘songs’ of reward hymned to the silence of the evening.

She would make transcriptions of writings. Making an attempt to scale back present texts again into the mark sounds that they emerged from. As an example she would possibly take a philosophical textual content, lay over it clear paper in order that she may see the typographic format of the unique in addition to have the ability to learn it by way of the translucent floor of her drawing paper. Then she would learn the textual content silently, step by step starting to murmur or hum the sound rhythm that started to inhabit her thoughts/throat/mouth, and along with her hand start making hatching marks that set themselves off in opposition to the sound rhythm now growing as she learn the textual content in her head. The cycle Trascrizioni, (1973-1979), being transcriptions of black ink on clear paper of printed supplies resembling newspapers, philosophical treatises and poetry. She has additionally recorded herself at work, which is why we all know how she operates. Her observe is a sensory cycle; sight, listening to and contact work together with one another. Since 1979 she has been enterprise actions and studying performances.

Irma Clean talks about her work

I’ve posted on aesmic writing earlier than. Asemic means “having no semantic content material”, or “with out the smallest unit of that means”, due to this fact it has turn out to be a definition of writing with out phrases. What to me about this definition was the tight affiliation between the idea of phrases and that means. In impact, as a definition it instructed that if a language had no phrases it had no that means. However Clean’s work units up a really totally different understanding of writing with out phrases. She factors to a layer beneath the phrases, one that also recognises them however which has turn out to be indifferent, in the same approach that her observe of laying a transparency over a textual content, implies that the brand new marks are indifferent as they’re moved away from the unique writing as soon as the brand new marks are made. 

Osmotic Drawings D-7, 1996

There are all the time new or alternative routes to consider one thing. I’ve all the time hummed and made noises as I draw. College students have within the previous been shocked that I would start making buzzing and even barking sounds so as to ‘clarify’ the communicative impact of a selected drawing or set of marks inside a drawing. Clean has helped me to assume extra deeply about this and I’ve maybe not thought by way of the implications so far as I ought to have finished. As I rethink this side of drawing I am extra conscious of power conversion, transformation and translation due to my latest work on the visualisation of invisible perceptual experiences, due to this fact the protecting separate visible from aural, olfactory or tactile experiences would seem like a increasingly silly train. Making an attempt to document the spectrum and circulation of perceptual expertise is extra like trying to attract the ocean. At one second it’s a big beast of a factor that may form continents and at one other it’s residence to essentially the most fragile swimming creature. 

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