John Mercuri Dooley


Notes on SOL Pieces

These pieces were composed from curatorial notes and aleatoric responses to a retrospective of Sol Lewitt’s work at the Whitney Museum on February 17, 2001.

The initial intention was to create a semigrammatical abstraction of the notes from the exhibition that would include an unembodied narrative that also somehow was written from the point of view of the reader/observer, describing unnamed objects and lines drawn on flat planes, and movement through and around these objects and with the lines on the flat planes. This was to represent an experience of Sol Lewitt’s work; to represent an example of our relation to objects, to one dimension and three dimensions, to space and to self; and to present a language object. I did this by choosing words from the notes to form word groups, and from these groups forming larger word units. The original first word unit:

       “full on bottom missing corner      same next layer next miss see      on each next
same      next missing more but larger      next same”

Next, I replaced each instance of the letters in the name “SOL LEWITT” with the letter that came after it in that name. That is, each instance of the letter S was replaced with the letter O, and vice versa; each instance of the letter L was replaced with the letter E, and vice versa; and the same for the letters W and I. The Ts were left as they were.

A procedure also was used to develop the shape of the stanzas. The first stanza was made up of three strings of nonwords, corresponding to the number of letters in the name SOL. The second stanza included six strings of nonwords, the number of letters in the name LEWITT. The remaining stanzas were formed using this 3-line, 6-line alternating pattern. The indentation, too, were determined by procedure: The first line was indented 19 spaces from the left margin (S is the 19th letter in the alphabet), the second line was indented 15 spaces (O is the 15th letter in the alphabet), the third line was indented 12 spaces (L is the 12th letter in the alphabet.

To make SOL1, I read through SOLunnumbered and performed a homophonic translation of the non-words in that piece. I added periods at the end of every line, and changed the first letter of each line to an uppercase letter, to create yet another experience in/with language, one that more closely resembled rationality and so upset the normal reading pattern in a more subtle way.

SOL un-numbered

                   fuee  mwoowng  nlxt  mwoo
mwoowng  oaml.  ouddln  arl  thl  lach..
               lach  oll  blowdl  owmpel
dwotractwsno  gray  owze.  aftlr  thl  oll   thwo
            out  hlad  awr  wt  oquarl  snl  osewd  nst.
thl  up  iay  sf.  bsul  and  msvwng  frsm  ts  by  sf
os gsbo

            randsm  bsx  iw  h  tss  are  esskwng  cut sff are
ihwtl  wnowdl  sr.  hangwng  hangwng
     otwck  blhwnd  blhwnd.  tss  a  hwgh  at  thl  up  wn
oaywng  wt  and  svlr  as
                       pwlclo.  pllp  frsm  thln  fwrot oll  but  cant
ao  ouch  thln.  nlxt  dwvwdl  wwth  wn
         bsttsm  aee  absvl  lach.  dwvwdl  a  lnsrmsuo  but  ts
wt  omwel  blcauol  thl  oll  ts
                    fwnl  gradlo  /  oll  fwnl  gradlo  ts.  up
dwfforont  gswng  frsm  ewnlo  drain  but  ns
                    tss  glt  most  iay  panle  barl  ewnlo  ewght
tss  glt  havl  dwfflrlnt  ewking  and  msrl  prlvwsuo

                   csesr  ewvley  up  ihwtl  beul  agawn  beack  dsin
os  peacl  beul  sf  ewvley  beank
               ceosld  spln  sn  msrl  elt  beul.  ns  ewnl  drago
dwvwdl  part  dwrlctwsno  wn
             crsoo  lquae  msvwng  dwvwdld  csesr  lach  dwrlct
aee  osupo  psol  parto  and

            crsoo  dwrlctwsn  sf  osupo  psol.  ansthlr 
nst  gs  uowng  can  csvlr  frll  thwck.  celar
     drain  frsm  thln  ns  cant  thl  nst  ts.  csvlrwng
thl  vary  cesol  sn  thsuoand
cant  csunt
                       quwtl  sr  oay  frsm  brlath  ts
oquwggey  nst  ohsio  drain.  nst  lntwrley  nst  ao
         csvlrwng  lntwrl.  ns  nsi  csrnlr  and  ihat
caeeld  msrl  csunt  cant  os  ihat
                      randsm.  glt  csvlrwng  grsund  bescko
wn  gray  dwfflrlnt  sr  lach  sthlr  ao  gs  owdl
                      ts  nlvlr  oaml  drai  sr  oplak  sf  ao
fwrot.  sut  vlry  spln  oaml  msvlo  and  owdlo

                     osewd  sthlr  thsugh  osmlwhat.ihwtl  hango
unlnd  sut  os  fwnaeey
               mattlr.  and  otwll.  csesr  ylaro  nsi  elo  otrawght
and  msvwng  eatlr.
            knsiwng  msvl  thl  dwfflrlncl  sf  and  rlot  aftlr
knsio  nst  that  os.  pwcturlo  ollwng  up  msre  oewght

            sf  angel  sthlrs  a  iwrl  hawr  hsel  a  ewnl,  eampo,
owmpel  nlrvsuo  cescko,  leabsratl
     ollwng  phsnlo  csed  hlatlro.  fesatwng  psol  otsnl  blowdl
nst  fweeld  osundo
                      cseelctisn  and  sthlro        owdl  hangwng  cesolt
clweing  fessr  wn  iwnd  geaoo  iwth
         gratlo  osml.  faweld  sr  ohaplo  frsm . csesro  waoh  sf
vary  csvlro  dllp  ohaeesi
                    vwli  cubl  lach  sf  oaml  aeos  owmpel  hlrl.
thwck  oll  olparatwng  mixld  otack
                    and  nst  mattlr  oesi.  csvlrld  iwth  iaoh  pwlclo
by.  thl  hlrl  cant  aee  much

                   mwddel  grayo  sf  and  varwsuo
jaggld  esskwng  nsi  owmpel  thwng  thwo  snl  gsnl
               vlry  ohwmmlrwng.  dwrlctwsno
 dwvwdl  ohwny  up  lach  fsrth  ohwftwng
            dwvwdlo  ihwtl  csesro  brlath  a
dwfflrlnt  lylo  have  dwfflrlnt  iaklo.