On October 20, Triple Canopy hosted Automatic Reading, a seminar addressing the act of reading as a part of contemporary artistic practice. Here we present a recording of the seminar, in which Erica Baum, Franklin Bruno, Corina Copp, Jim Fletcher, Ariana Reines, Mónica de la Torre, and R. H. Quaytman discuss of how the legacy of conceptualism has challenged traditional notions of reading both as an exchange between an individual and a text and as a public activation of the written word.
Reading is frequently understood as a private encounter with characters, narratives, and, perhaps, an author. Reading in the context of conceptual art, in contrast, may underscore the material qualities of the codex (the page, binding, and technologies of printing) or cultural assumptions about readers and authors bound up with the physical format of the book. Rather than producing meaning, tout court, reading in a conceptual sense may become an encounter with an object, an audience, or social context—or with discourse itself. As in the case of unoriginal composition, the act of writing can be nearly indistinguishable from the act of looking over words. Conceptual reading establishes new uses for books and texts, even as it moves reading out of the realm of contemplation and into the space of action.
Automatic Reading is part two of Corrected Slogans (A Publication in Four Acts), Triple Canopy’s ongoing collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, in conjunction with the exhibition "Postscript: Writing after Conceptual Art". The first act of Corrected Slogans—Triple Canopy’s September 15th symposium, Poems for America—emphasized strategies of unoriginal writing and art making. Automatic Reading extends this line of inquiry by focusing on how conceptual practices make use of conventions of reading.