Sometime during an average lifetime, a person will inhale a fragment of the air exhaled by Julius Caesar. In 1995 I began to work on manifestations of power through the breath, electricity and air. I have investigated diverse visual and mechanical means of representing the breath. The project began with my own respiratory allergies, a tangle of tubes left over from my father’s oxygen tanks. I built machines to replicate the process of breathing, videotaped and photographed breath, and used punctuation marks to symbolize the breath’s function in the voice.
The first Aspirations Wall was as a part of my York University MFA exhibition. It was 40 feet long and displayed a collection of objects, images and photographs dealing with the breath, flight and air, and 5 bookworks called Beginning Aspirations. The punctuation was traced from translations of classic Greek texts: Plato, Republic; Homer, The Odyssey and Iliad; Aristotle, The Politics; Aristophanes, The Birds; and Sophocles, Oedipus Rex. The wall was divided horizontally by cyan-colored string to look like an enlarged notebook page, and was broken into phrases by clay punctuation marks.
Shorter versions of the wall were shown in other venues. Later Aspirations books included Gray’s Anatomy, Agatha Christie’s The Blue Train and the first book on punctuation published in English titled A Treatise of Stops, Point, or Pauses, 1680. This book was published at the time idiosyncratic manuscript punctuation based on taking breaths was transformed to structured phrasing in written language as printing press technology spread to book production.
Scriptless Scriptorium became a separate installation with a scroll of traced punctuation from each book of The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version.