by Márton Koppány
Part of "Illuminated Script": a SCRIPTjr.nl special section.
Born in 1953, I'm a writer living in Budapest, Hungary. I started writing what turned out to be "visual poetry" thirty years ago because by the late seventies I'd understood that if I didn't want to give up the faint hope of communicating, I should "get rid" of my mother tongue. So the main source of my way is a deficiency, which makes things simple in a sense.
My inclinations have always directed me towards the (actual, ever-changing) limits of verbal communication. But I don't distrust/need/enjoy words more or less than the empty spaces between them, the sheet of paper they are written on, the rhythm of the turning of the pages, unknown and forgotten symbols, fragments, natural formations like clouds -- each of them and any combination of them may be an invitation. When I feel easy and ready to make something, I experience their complete equivalence.
The question of influences is a very funny one since in a sense we can discover only what we already "know". My first encounter with a couple of Zen koans happened in the 70s. They were translated into Hungarian and published as cartoons in a state run magazine of human sciences. I'd never seen anything like that before and they were almost completely distorted but I "recognized" them at once. And there are other phenomena that I won't decipher even if I spend the rest of my life watching.
My frames, as many things in life, came from a coincidence. In the late 70s when I started tinkering with my first non-just-textual black and white sequences, I cut the xeroxed A/4 pages into four because I wanted to put my work into normal size envelopes and send it out as mail art. (There was no way to publish them in Hungary although I tried my best.) But it was difficult to handle the borders without background, so I glued the originals on black cardboards, and it was convenient to keep the frames as well. Very soon I became conscious of their presence. They started to represent limitations -- and the opportunity of changing them into a playfield. I noticed another white layer "behind" the black one -- and also that there was no "background" anywhere at all. I'm not using frames anymore.
I have nothing against linearity, story-telling and similar old-fashioned things. But I'm unable to conceive of full beginnings or full endings -- and I must express that, too. In a sense there's no alternative to in medias res. Generally I have a basic image first which just emerges. But most of my visual poems significantly (or completely) change in the process of their elaboration, thanks to the call coming from the unexpected "blemishes" of their digital carriers. It is a dialogue, I hope.
I have a growing collection of fragmented notes I've written over the years. They've sprung directly from concrete, mostly technical questions about this or that piece of mine, asked by friends. (Generally speaking I'm skeptical about general talk on art. Or at least I'm not good at it, and it doesn't have to do with my difficulties with English.) I want to close this short introduction by including here two of my responses. (I've eliminated the questions.) Please don't consider them anything more than one reading among others.
"Waves No. 2."
A white (erased?) (already "missing"?) comma-man is sailing, quietly, in a small black boat consisting of an opening bracket, and under a series of opaque closing brackets consisting of some fleecy clouds in motion.
"Dash No. 1"
The two things on the two sides of the dash are identical: they're the images of an iceberg. I had a certain idea, and needed two icebergs for it. But I didn't guess beforehand that they would look like a pair of shoes. This time the "material" really surprised me, and it took the initiative. DASH is the base of a mountain-like (and already thawing) negative space between two disappearing icebergs, which are identical with each other. And the shoes belong together, and the negative space is their wearer. Between? Around? I don't remember.
Please note, I created all images presented here between 1980 and 2010. In this presentation, they can be seen in a more or less chronological order. Many were first published in some of the following publications:
- Endgames (Otoliths, 2008). http://sites.google.com/site/otolithsbooks/Home/endgames-by-m%C3%A1rton-kopp%C3%A1ny (10 July 2011).
- Investigations (ahadada, 2003). http://www.ahadadabooks.com/content/view/12/31/ (10 July 2011).
- Modulations (Otoliths, 2010). http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/modulations/11269905 (10 July 2011).
- "A Primer in Concrete: An Exchange Between David Berridge and Márton Koppány," 9 September 2010. http://verysmallkitchen.com/2010/09/09/a-primer-in-concrete-david-berridge-and-marton-koppany/ (10 July 2011).
- this is visual poetry (chapbookpublisher.com, 2010). http://thisisvisualpoetry.com/?p=113 (10 July 2011).
- To Be Or To Be (Runaway Spoon Press, 1996).
- Waves (Eratio, 2008). http://www.eratiopostmodernpoetry.com/pdfs/Waves.pdf (10 July 2011).