It is no surprise to say that words and things are not the same. The word "apple" is not the same as the piece of fruit sitting in the fruit bowl. It is tempting when thinking about this to lay blame at the feet of language, to point out its slipperiness and praise the clarity of the visual image. The photograph at the end of the horse race shows us who really
won. The portrait painting of a distant ancestor shows us how a family really
looked back then. This is the legacy, of course, of Plato and the exile of the poet: we only make word-tables, not real tables on which people can eat real food. The work below from j/j hastain does something different. The pieces utilize formal elements of visual poetry, collage, concrete poetry, and postal art to present an alternative argument: that words are clear, too, at least when we consider them as words and not as referents. Hastain does this in two ways. First, the visual elements of each piece are blurred, magnified, and set as background. The poem-fragments, by contrast, are highlighted, easy to read, and in focus. Second, hastain presents the words not as normal text on a page, but as a cut-out that has been glued on top of the image. The words are very literally things on each of these pieces. So, are these works of art or are these poems? They are neither, instead "becoming the new indigenous / through beckoning ourselves from cyborg to earth."