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In No Medium, Craig Dworkin looks at works that are blank, erased,clear, or silent, writing critically and substantively about works for which there would seem to benot only nothing to see but nothing to say. Examined closely, these ostensibly contentless works ofart, literature, and music point to a new understanding of media and the limits of the artisticobject. Dworkin considers works predicated on blank sheets of paper, from a fictional collection ofpoems in Jean Cocteau's Orphée to the actual publication of a ream of typingpaper as a book of poetry; he compares Robert Rauschenberg's Erased De KooningDrawing to the artist Nick Thurston's erased copy of Maurice Blanchot's The Spaceof Literature (in which only Thurston's marginalia were visible); and he scrutinizes thesexual politics of photographic representation and the implications of obscured or obliteratedsubjects of photographs. Reexamining the famous case of John Cage's 4'33",Dworkin links Cage's composition to Rauschenberg's White Paintings, KenFriedman's Zen for Record (and Nam June Paik's Zen for Film),and other works, offering also a "guide to further listening" that surveys more than 100scores and recordings of "silent" music. Dworkin argues that we should understand medianot as blank, base things but as social events, and that there is no medium, understood inisolation, but only and always a plurality of media: interpretive activities taking place insocially inscribed space.
The essays collected here by Marjorie Perloff and Craig Dworkin break that critical silence to readdress some of the fundamental connections between poetry and sound connections that go far beyond traditional metrical studies.
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