“Things come out of Things”

Affinities, Robert Seydel

November 20th, 2014



As a collage artist, Robert Seydel forages, borrows, and transforms existing materials using a kind of “combinatorial magic.”  A Picture Is Always a Book: Further Writings from Book of Ruth is woven from the fabrics of our world—as Seydel writes, “my art is a damaged thing, / of damaged things made.”  This constellation of works by Seydel as well as other siglio artists reflects the synergy that occurs when things are collected, arranged, and manipulated to compose something new.

 —Natalie Dunn







  From A Picture Is Always a Book: Further Writings from Book of Ruth








From O! Tricky Cad & Other Jessoterica


Imagination is the magic, is my nation. I love the image. The image of what and how many? Images of ink spots, tarred cracks, dirty panes, candle wax, splintered wood, flickered light, overcast zeniths, moon craters, chlorophyll dances, old glazes, somber embers, eraser smudges, blood blisters, mudflats up close, penumbral shadows, shadows caught in kitten fur, in front of lampshades, in armpits, trees, umbrella shadows autonomous over mudruts, anything seen across a heater, tears, patches, rifts, cementings firm, halfholding, gossamer, CRUMPLED tissue, HORN spoons, always PAINT all ways, in all semblances, mustard, tar, gum, shit, tears, sludge, resin, semen, egg yolk, feathers, blood, butter, sunset, eavesdrops, clinkers, soapsuds, oilslick, brickdust, topaz, stalactite, baked mudflat, FLAT, GLASSY, RUBBED, SCRATCHED, WORN, RULED, BLOTCHED, DABBED, RIDGED, DROOLED, SMEARED, FLAKED, SCRAPED, LABORED, MODELLED, SPAT, multiplied not ultimately, but multiplied ultimate without obligation. And how much, if as it is this far short of how many and what? Nothing, no costs, no money, no love, no pain, no enema, no emetic, no joy, no pedestal, no yes, no no, no need, no needle, no noodle, no nought, no dreadnought, no thing, and

E   V   E   R   Y   T   H   I  N  G

The who, why, when, whence, whereto, and how, likewise in the ImagiNation become whore, whist, whiff, whelp, whippoorwill, and whole. But not for scrutiny or mutiny nor for Porifera only, but for Porphyry perhaps.






From Robert Seydel: “The Eye in Matter”








“Song” from Songs of S.


I want to know

    the mind in me

  that is so hid

I cannot see

what it is

    that makes me


what I am.

Not a scare crow

    nor a snow man

  nor the man in the moon

is made by hand

attached to me—

    poem & picture

  don’t reveal

what I am.

The mind in me

    is hid in them.

  I cannot tell

what it is

that makes me

    in making these

  or (wily-nily?)

what I am.

if the moon is also

    in my mouth…

both shoe &

    white slick

of a slug…

if it is here,

    a leaping hare

in the reeds…

    or there, quick

like fish

    in the stream…

it is it is



    a shoe in me…

my mouth

    in the moon…






From Here Comes Kitty: A Comic Opera








From “Imagination’s Artifacts,” editor’s essay in Several Gravities


Contamination striates the work, as a kind of lovely virus. Traces of the linguistic adhere to the picture, pollute, in fact, both the pictures of themselves in their procedures and our cognition of them. That contamination—a kind of hybridization, unmoors the picture. It is loosed and set adrift in a field of linguistic-visual codes that refuse semantic and other closures and that are only partially visible in the work itself. Traces of another field of being and mentality slip through the work, and accord it a type of secondary atmosphere. It feels, in some way hard to countenance, less of work of art, though of course it is that too, than an artifact of the imagination in communion with its own expansions and possibilities.






From Bough Down








From Several Gravities


Sounds, over a distance too

                                                                                       great to hurt: the ideal

                                                                                       clang. Quotations

                                                                                       drop from the air, forms

                                                                                       of hieroglyphic. There are

                                                                                       four colors that make

                                                                                       up the whole world. They are all

                                                                                       colors I have seen.






Detail from O! in O! Tricky Cad & Other Jessoterica








From A Picture Is Always a Book: Further Writings from Book of Ruth