Writing Tests/First Drafts

In 1985, as part of the exhibition Les Immateriaux, at the Pompidou Centre, co-curator Jean Francois Lyotard issued a number of writers with minitel machines and a list of words to create a cumulative glossary of terms related to the exhibition.

Although pre-internet, these machines allowed the writers to view each others writing in real time and respond and add to them to create a polyvocal set of ‘definitions’, with multiple voices interwoven. The result was Epreuves D’Ecriture, which translates as Writing Tests or First Drafts and which was then printed up as part of the exhibition catalogue. In Lyotard’s "rules of the game" writers were invited to give their ‘definitions' ("2-10 lines maximum”) of multiple terms from of a supplied list of words related to the exhibition, and also respond to (“refute, complete, modulate, etc”) the inputs of other writers.

Now with collaborative online writing prevalent with Wikipedia etc, but with exhibition catalogues still mostly comprised of univocally authored essays, this project is being revisited to cumulatively and collectively define a new set of terms, in relation to the exhibition ‘ A Strange Weave of Time and Space’.

Click on a word to see the writers’ responses to the term: