Lexicon 97: project details


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Lexicon 97  (aka Lex-97) is a Limited Fork Theory poam system

caught up in the collaborative nature of all things

while dedicated to the rescue of 97 T-shirts discarded in Washtenaw County

the Lex 97 were rescued from homeless clothes shelters in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Westland Michigan

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for the purpose of establishing a lexicon of cloth words (mostly [69%] 100% cotton, occasionally expressed as pure cotton)

to be reconfigured into poetic bursts 

of philosophical and pseudo-philosophical statements

that even in the pseudo-form might release

more of the potential embedded in the words of 97 t-shirts.


On 4 February 2011, somewhere among the significant and insignificant (sometimes interchangeableeventsthe first Lexicon 97 poam system went on display  in the Slusser Gallery configured as a freeform book of (what in some circumstanced may be considered a form of) poetry consisting of 17 T-shirts hanging on a spiral clothesrack.

T-shirt skeletons are garments of absence, shirts with holes and gaps where words were cut out during acts of lexicon mining, leaving behind a skeletal textile frame deprived of its advertising, merchandising identity, & so forth (that prevailed in my sample of 97); its branded cultural agendas that somehow say something we either want to or don't mind saying.  

a stranger admires a lex-97 t-shirt skeleton in a parking lot



Unused words were not discarded, but instead are preserved in Mason Jars (shown at left) of nouns, verbs, pronouns, prepositions and conjunctions, also on display in the Slusser Gallery.

During the opening reception, models wearing T-Shirt skeletons walked into the gallery to this music before removing the skeletons and placing them in the basket that is part of the display. Click to watch the rags to rags t-shirt skeleton video

This music was made using the first 28 seconds of Ramalama by Roisin Murphy, readily available, once upon a time, for digital download from iTunes, Amazon or other mp3 file providers. Now, the options are perhaps a bit more restrictive or creative; 28 tweaked seconds  & forkergirl voicings.

The song used in the official rags to rags promo video of T-shift skeleton fashions as aftermath of lexicon mining features original music by Ansted Moss and vocals by forkergirl, made during the superbowl using an audio interface box and my laptop, so I missed the Black-Eyed Peas and the Christina Aguilera national anthem flub that I'll forgive her in part because of our national rare-need these days to refer to ramparts: a defensive wall system of a castle or walled city or, more generally, a defensive or protective barrier, evidently no longer in our daily cultural practice (despite that small population percentage in gated communities and jails) as not much is protecting Christina from anthem-flub backlash.

To the right is an image of part of a rampart or defensive wall that is quite well known, quite old, and visible from space: the Great Wall of China near Jinshanling, as photographed by Jakub Hałun and available from Wikipedia in the ramparts/defensive wall article.





Pages are fully interchangeable.  A poetic statement on the front may be considered complete, yet could be extended, a possibility indicated by the back of each shirt-page featuring a single conjunction or preposition that may also function as a bifurcation point in the connective word's ability to support a shift in thought, a  change in direction or reconsideration.  So the backs of shirt pages display and but however until or or an ampersand symbol & 



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