Joseph Bisat MarshallThe Fragmentary Corpus2014
This book design project explores Friedrich Nietzsche’s theory of Apollonian and Dionysian duality, as a model for understanding design. The Greek gods, Apollo and Dionysus, give their names to this philosophic and literary concept developed by Nietzsche in The Birth of Tragedy, 1872. They represent opposing forces of order and chaos: the god of intellectual pursuits and prophecy, and the god of revel, ecstasy and ritual madness.
Nietzsche theorised Greek tragedy as the space where order and chaos were inextricably combined. I have redesigned Aeschylus’ Greek trilogy The Oresteia, into four books – each assigned to a different actor – Greek tragedies were typically performed by a small number of actors who undertook multiple roles. Only the lines belonging to the particular actor in question are printed in each book, resulting in multiple blank pages. There are no page numbers to refer to, only line numbers that provide a rare indication of order.
The books can be engaged with in two ways, both of which enforce an enactment of the performance as it was originally intended. Multiple readers must follow the spoken lines of their colleagues absolutely in order to situate their own part. A single reader must lay each book in front of them and turn their four pages simultaneously – the reading becomes spatial and performative.
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