8/27/21 / 8/31/21
6:46am / 6:28am
Another collage: a found page showing an aerial view of a circuitry schematic plays host to a brow-shaped, blurry-edged mass painted black in the middle of the vertical rectangular diagram. Below this mass are three vertical, roughly formed strokes of deep blue paint. A cut-out of an ovular black frame with white matting strip has been glued on the page to surround this scene. Below the frame, occupying the bottomost edge of the canvas, a series of 3 images show a white silhouetted hand against a black background with its index finger extended, touching a ribboned band of white, which becomes more visibly pronounced – more pronouncedly white that is – with each successive image, as if emanating from the point where the finger makes contact.
MD features a bizarre admixture of narrative styles and voices that tells us to call it by one name. One of the many eccentricities of this queer legion is its tendency to describe scenes without the benefit of context but in the surprised, confused, disordered, even frightening way in which many experiences are first witnessed. This is the case for the painting Ishmael notices hanging on the wall when he first enters the Spouter Inn. At first he can’t make out the subject: whether owing to the smoky, oily environs of the inn itself and its cumulative effect on the canvas or the quality of the painting itself is difficult to tell. MK’s choice of line to illustrate from this page reveals his interest and investment in not the contextualized, objective revelation of what the painting represents but Ishmael’s attempt to describe it for the reader before this moment of recognition has occurred. The series of collaged images illustrating a fingertip’s touch seems to me an attempt to capture this process of capturing the image, or rather to preserve its not being captured, since neither the title of the piece (the line from MD) nor the collage itself permits knowledge of the painting’s ‘true’ subject (the one Ishmael eventually ‘theorizes’ based on the aggregated wisdom of many learned men he consults on the subject).
A detail of this canvas which is only barely visible in MK’s original scan of this illustration and does not register in the image that appears in Moby-Dick in Pictures: are four lightly-painted patches of pinkish tan which extend from the edges of the collaged frame roughly at the intercardinal points of the canvas’s perpendicular axes – the “nameless yeast,” perhaps, rendered only to be sometimes lost to view.