The Linguistics of Light

Light is essential to the development of visual media. Camera is an instrument based on mechanisms for manipulating light. Paintings won’t be ‘realistic’ if they don’t show shadow or light; there won’t be depth or perspective if light is not expressed. But, light travels at an unbelievable speed which is difficult to capture, let alone delineate its shapes, forms and orality, in words.

Lisa Dart took up this challenge with elegance. In her cleverly titled ‘the linguistics of light‘ (Salt Publishing, 2010), she explores the power of image and the power of the philosophical on writing, by focusing on the space and time created by light. Moments, occasions, events, death, birth, end, beginning, evening, morning, the past, the presence, soon-ness or late-ness, the linguistics of light makes the space in images such as Edward Hopper‘s paintings timeless yet lasting.

The poems Lisa Dart read on her visit to UCA Farnham yesterday were simply mesmerising. She has sharp eyes for observing and capturing different qualities of lights, different connotations they carry, may it be spiritual, transcendental. So effortlessly, stories simply flow.

Her reading reminded me of Barbara Adam whose influential monograph Time (Polity, Key Concepts Series 2004) is also deeply poetic. Lisa Dart’s poems in a way echo Adam’s academic work that marries academic writing (the conceptual, the philosophical, the concepts of “multliple times”, “social time”) and poetry writing. The results are open-ended, fluid, organic, uncertain.

The evening with Lisa Dart could only be followed by a drink at the pub The William Cobbett, sipping G&T, imagining in one of Edward Hopper’s paintings (together with others in a pub but feeling alone), talking about metaphor games. The matching of G&T, Edward Hopper’s paintings, and Lisa Dart’s poems was only instinctive, nothing like those things we experienced in our everyday life driven by big data and powered by computers.

Dr. Craig Jordan-Baker and Dr. Lisa Dart at UCA Farnham on the 10th of November 2014
Dr. Craig Jordan-Baker and Dr. Lisa Dart at UCA Farnham on the 10th of November 2014
Dr. Craig Jordan-Baker and Dr. Lisa Dart at UCA Farnham on the 10th of November 2014
Dr. Craig Jordan-Baker and Dr. Lisa Dart at UCA Farnham on the 10th of November 2014
UCA Farnham Creative Writing students asking Dr. Lisa Dart difficult questions :)
UCA Farnham Creative Writing students asking Dr. Lisa Dart difficult questions 🙂
Dr. Lisa Dart reading, thinking, performing
Dr. Lisa Dart reading, thinking, performing
Dr. Lisa Dart reading, thinking, performing
Dr. Lisa Dart reading, thinking, performing
Dr. Lisa Dart reading, thinking, performing
Dr. Lisa Dart reading, thinking, performing

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