Several years ago I decided to treat every piece of art as an ongoing work and to publish or show them in versions, rather like software is published, and I found this approach extremely helpful in combatting that old tyranny of the “is it finished?” question.
I am not a painter or sculptor, nor any other sort of artist that makes discrete objects. I use a number of media that are reproducible, sometimes infinitely, and working with digital media allows any number of versions to be made of any work, and that’s the rub.
Q. In a world of infinite possibilities, and infinite versions, how do you finish anything?
A. You just stop working on it.
“World X – A Speculative History” is a prose-poem I wrote in 2008 for an event entitled “Life 2.0”, and is an allegory on the dangers of technological advance without recourse to morality or ethics.
The first time I read it at the event I had a slideshow of appropriate images, maintaining a circular motif throughout. Version 1.0.
A friend told me she didn’t really listen to the words because the visuals were so arresting, but also said it would be good as a book.
Seeing as the text was the important part, I expanded it slightly and the next time I read it was without the slideshow. Version 2.0.
I expanded it further, and it’s only about 1,500 words, but I read it again at a performance event that I organised with artist James Price in 2009 (above). Version 2.1.
The last time I read it (with very slight alterations) was at one of the Northern Lights spoken-word nights at the Rutland Arms, Sheffield, UK, organised by Jude Calvert-Toulmin in 2012. Version 2.1.1.
Part of me still wants to write more in order to make it longer, so that it will stand on its own as a performance work, but that just hasn’t happened. Maybe it never will.
Also, having struggled on and off for a few years trying to lay it out as a book, suggested by my friend, I am currently laying the original monologue out, page by page. There is no print version yet, but an ongoing PDF can be viewed online here. I hope to finish draft version 1.0 of text version 2.1.1 by the end of this week.
I wrote a separate section about Adam and Eve that I tried to weave into the main narrative, but it just doesn’t work, and so that will be a separate chapter that happens in the same universe, but not necessarily in the same chronology.
Stay tuned for Version X.X.