All the unread words

June 17, 2008

Bathroom texts

Attempting to bypass a creative block today, I started photographing objects around the house. I noticed the texts that cover most consumer goods, the sheer wealth of them, and how they are so often hidden, turned away. I started making them visible.

I’d just been reading an extract from Felicity Lawrence’s Eat Your Heart Out in Saturday’s paper. She describes how breakfast cereals are one of the top advertising-led products, despite their almost total lack of goodness.

“The risk is, if you take the salt out, you might be better off eating the cardboard carton for taste.”—Kellogg’s spokesman.

These essays on packaging – blurbs, lists of ingredients, “nutrition information”, suggested servings, recipes – crowd out the visual space and supply some innate (and statuary) requirement for information, yet they say very little, and frequently lie.

Kitchen texts

I’ve been thinking a lot about language recently. How did we get from scratching on stone and wax tablets to this endless, 10 point scrawl on everything?

“This is not a story. You can read it if you like. It’s not about anything.”—label on a can of tomatoes in Grant Morrison’s Invisibles.

Just as when starting a new book the characters are ciphers to me, or when studying a new discipline I must take the time to learn the meanings of new concepts and classifications, so now ‘Aliphatic Hydrocarbons’ and ‘Nonionic surfactants’ are equally mysterious. I have no vinyl furniture. Why do I even possess this product? How have I accumulated all these meaningless texts?

Word salad is a mixture of seemingly meaningful words that together signify nothing; the phrase draws its name from the common name for a symptom of schizophrenia… When applied to a physical theory, “word salad” is a derogatory description that labels the theory as senseless or utterly devoid of meaning.”—Wikipedia

I remember when I was a child I used to read the labels of all the products in the bathroom. A compulsive reader, if I found myself without a book, I read whatever came to hand. Still do.

Sink texts

‘Texts’ set on Flickr.


  1. […] Se rappeler que les supports de textes peuvent soumettre la lecture à des conditions variées. […]

    Pingback by apsed — June 18, 2008 @ 7:16 am

  2. […] is drowning in words […]

    Pingback by The Fiction Desk — June 18, 2008 @ 1:18 pm

  3. Ever hear the early song by The Cure called “So What”? It’s Robert Smith reading the label off a bag of sugar:

    Comment by Gluefreak — June 18, 2008 @ 6:14 pm

  4. […] Bridle von hat die Texte auf Verpackungsrückseiten neu entdeckt und fotografiert. Diese Essays auf Verpackungen – Zitate, Auflistungen der Inhaltsstoffe, […]

    Pingback by Das Literatur-Café — June 20, 2008 @ 11:48 am

  5. […] von Produkten zu lesen. Da wo all das steht, was eigentlich kein Mensch liest. Herausgekommen ist das. Teile und genieße Diese Icons verzweigen auf soziale Netzwerke bei denen Nutzer neue Inhalte […]

    Pingback by takkiwrites — June 24, 2008 @ 3:06 pm

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