Posted by on Aug 20, 2014 in BlogBog
Rows of house numbers at KMart

Rows of house numbers at my local KMart

Some time ago, when I was more of a poet than a designer, I wrote a pantoum for a workshop I was attending. For those unfamiliar with the form, a pantoum is a repeating form that originated in Malaysia. The verse is composed of four-line stanzas in which the second and fourth lines of each stanza serve as the first and third lines of the next stanza. The last line may be the same as the first.

At the time, I often worked in repeating forms and enjoyed reading them aloud, although mostly to my verse-alouf cat, Ms. Louise Cheeze. Ms. Cheeze prefers the pop music of mod-60s Paris, and would turn on her tail, leave the room and seek out a fresh pack of Gauloises to enjoy with her souris tartare. Ah bon?

After a one tense night of workshopping, our linguist instructor asked me why I admired the repeating forms, and inquired as to my low-level of boredom for them. “Don’t you find them a bit tedious after awhile?” she questioned. “Pourquoi?” as Ms. Cheeze taught me to say in these situations.

I returned home the night, took my multicolored faux fiestaware out of the dishwasher and placed it safely in the cupboard. I then folded six of my clean shirts all of the same style but different pattern, and rinsed off my newest thriftstore find, an eggplant-shaped pitcher, that fit in perfectly next to my corn- and tomato-shaped ones. I walk down to the bedroom passed a photograph I made of a row of gumball machines, switched on Music for 18 Musicians and head for bed.

It was then I realized the lulling beauty of the repeating object, pattern or popular song verse: its an expected sameness, but a welcome surprise when the form is slighted altered. It is this change that interests me. It is similar to our breathing, our heartbeat and for some tortured souls, our thoughts. Bodity function that can change in speed or pattern due to circumstance, but still remain the same activity. The beauty of sameness is all around us in nature, and to bring it into our daily lives some of us buy polka-dotted shower curtains, striped towels, or install picket fences around what is ours.

Walking across the patio, Ms. Cheeze reminded me of her place in nature. On the garden path she lined up a harvest mice, each gray body about the same in form and color, the last without a head.