Language is a Virus

By Daniel Jackson, 4 July 2003
Image: All images Daniel Jackson

Profile of A Text That Destroys Itself In theProcess of Its Own Reading, a new work by Howard Britton, Daniel Jackson and Simon Morris, first performed at the recent GustavMetzger conference

The Gustav Metzger conference also provided the occasion for a new work by psychoanalyst Howard Britton and artists Daniel Jackson and Simon Morris to be performed. A Text That Destroys Itself In The Process Of Its Own Reading began with two separate texts on the work of Gustav Metzger: Howard Britton’s ‘Gustav Metzger: a manifesto for destruction: between two deaths’ and Simon Morris’s, ‘Beyond Representation’. Britton and Morris took it in turns to read aloud pages from their work, which were projected behind them – red on black and black on red. Using Extraction, a computer programme created by Daniel Jackson, words were randomly removed, one by one, from each author’s text. As one author read from his text, the other read aloud the words that had been randomly removed from the other text by the Extraction programme. Over time, the aural presentation of words from one text increasingly covered over the aural presentation of words from the other, until any coherent meaning was destroyed. Extraction aimed to remove all the words in the performers’ text in the same time that it took the performers to read their texts.

A Text That Destroys Itself In The Process Of Its Own Reading was at the Atlantis Gallery, Brick Lane, London, 15 March 2003. (Thanks to Daniel Jackson from whose advanced description of the event the above text is adapted. A full version can be found at [])