– Summer 2011

Propositions and Publications: On Dexter Sinister

Saul Anton

Dexter Sinister, A Primer for Visual Literacy, 2009. Courtesy of the artists

Dexter Sinister, A Primer for Visual Literacy, 2009. Courtesy of the artists

Issue 7 (Spring 2004) of Dot Dot Dot magazine offers the following articles: ‘The Problem with Posters’, ‘Mexico 1968/ Rotterdam 2003’, ‘Forum Magazine’, ‘"Landy’s (Failed) Gesture" and the General Intellect’, ‘The Every Day Story of Flesh- Eating, Blood-Sucking Freaks’, ‘Eno and the Long Now’, ‘Revolutions’, ‘Writing on Money’, ‘Group Theory’, ‘Lazy Sunday Afterthoughts’ and ‘The Boy Who Always Looked Up’. You might wonder what links posters, bloodsucking freaks, Brian Eno, revolutions and lazy Sunday afternoon thoughts. Whatever it might be — and I’ll come to that — this alphabet soup of possibilities and projects could very well be the purest emblem of the wide range of activities — writings, lectures, perfor­mances, exhibitions, publications and more publications — that make up the work of Dexter Sinister, a two-person collective of designer-artist-printer-publishers Stuart Bailey and David Reinfurt. This is all the more so, I would add, because I have merely listed these articles one after another, whereas in reality they exist as a grid of block-faced titles — authors and page numbers suspended on the page not as a succession of items to be perused but as a constellation of terms whose relation to one another on the page is open. The point might seem negligible, but I have taken them out of the serene simultaneity of their spatial configuration and translated them into the successive movement of critical and analytic language, negating in the process the way these titles call out to one another on the page. In doing so I have created a field of resonance that is neither simply graphical nor semantic, but operates at the intersection of the one and the other as the

  1. Friedrich Schlegel, Philosophical Fragments (trans. Peter Firchow), Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1991, p.27. Fragment no.77.

  2. Dot Dot Dot finished its run with issue 20 last year to make room for a new publication, Bulletins of the Serving Library.

  3. See Benjamin H.D. Buchloh, ‘Open Letters, Industrial Poems’, October, vol.42, Fall 1987, pp.69—71.

  4. Press release for ‘Musée d’art Moderne, Département des Aigles, Sections Art Moderne et Publicité’. Quoted in Rosalind Krauss, Marcel Broodthaers, New York: Michael Werner, 1991, p.227.

  5. Hal Foster, ‘Design and Crime’, Design and Crime, London and New York: Verso Books, 2002, p.25.

  6. David Reinfurt, ‘Post-Master’, in Dexter Sinister (ed.), Portable Document Format, New York: Lukas & Sternberg, 2009, p.25.

  7. On this, the literature is enormous, and spans the period from the Enlightenment to the rise of social networking. Perhaps one unavoidable reference is Jacques Derrida’s Of Grammatology (1974, trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak), Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998, a work that explicitly takes up the theme of the ‘end of the book and the beginning of writing’. It is significant, however, that the act of fictioning I have been describing aligns in many ways with Derrida’s resistance to affirming the ‘end of the book’.

  8. Their laughter with the same range / Will toll if you bring yourself / To Mr and Mrs Whistler’s / At 110 Rue Antique du Bac.’ Translation the author's.

  9. Quoted in D. Reinfurt, ‘Post-Master', op. cit., p.26.