Truly cryptic art, chaotic and tidy, variations and transformations, unit and rhythm, typography and symbol = icon. Not figural, but strict and radical; its lush and substantial quality occasions us to look. Communicating is in point of fact invigorating should you actually omit anything from the ABC. Its impact is shocking but by doing so your mind quickly grows lucid.
Forgoing the letter E, as these few sentences above make very evident, does restrict one's usual expressive possibilities, but at the same time it also gives rise to a new language that generates other images and sounds.
In 1969, the French author George Perec wrote the extraordinary novel La Disparition (published in English under the title A Void), in which the vowel E does not appear. "The novel shows what language can do when it is no longer the author who narrates, but rather language itself through the corset of strict guidelines. The story, the characters and the plot can develop solely from the starting point of the available words. Violent excesses and naked terror shimmer through amid a revolutionary comedy, puzzles that follow upon puzzles and a turbulent crime novel parody. But there is a method behind the terror that reigns here, and namely a linguistic method to the extent that the terror comes about as a result of the language's manipulation. The gradual and almost without exception cruel vanishing of an entire clan consequentially manifests itself in the missing letter." As the blurb from Eugen Helmlé's German translation of A Void [Anton Voyls Fortgang] continues, La Disperation "is an adventure of unequalled magnitude." In accordance with the aims of the OuLiPo group ("Workshop of Potential Literature"), Perec sought to expand the potentials of language by means of self-imposed constraints - an intention that is similarly binding for the oeuvre of Henri Chopin, Guy de Cointet and Channa Horwitz. All three artists began developing their works in the 1960s, a time when conceptual systematic dealings with the basic parameters of our experience were at the forefront. The opening up of language and communications, the mixing of such diverse media as image, speech, music and performance, the structuring of time and space, the development of artistic systems of categorisation and separate grammars were interpreted by Chopin, de Cointet and Horwitz each in their own specific manner.
The Californian artist Channa Horwitz (born 1932) has worked on a mathematically-based system of drawing since the early 1960s that enables her to visualise motion and time. Almost all of her black and white as well as coloured works are based on a grid of horizontal and vertical lines, on basic geometric shapes as well as the sequence of numbers from one to eight that she declines like nouns in ever new variations: it is an algorithm that can condense into structures of nearly undecodable complexity. Although the severity of her guidelines makes an almost hermetic impression, her fine drawings display a peculiar visual appeal. This derives in equal measure from the spatial vortex visible in many of the drawings, the lines of which applied to tracing paper almost seem as if they were hovering in thin air, as well as from the visible tension between the programmed procedure and the drawn line, between guidelines and freedom within a complex artistic system that Horwitz herself characterises as a "visual philosophy." Channa Horwitz has been employing notations since the late 1960s that she calls Sonakinatography in the sense of a sound and motion recording, on occasion also the choreographic source material for her performances as well. Her works are equally rooted in the minimalist process of structuring time and space as well as the methodology of the Happening to the extent that the function of the notation shifted from being a passive recording to becoming an active set of instructions. Channa Horwitz studied at the renowned California Institute of the Arts. Although she has been represented at international exhibitions since the mid 1960s, she developed her work secluded from an environment dominated by male colleagues.