Cc: me

2012

Elaine Whittaker

 

 

by Ruth Roach Pierson

*Professor Emerita and author of "Aide-Mémoire"

*2008 Governor General finalist for poetry

Cc: me

The carbon copy of yesterday becomes the transfigured art of today.

Cc: me is an installation of drawings, live bacteria, poetry, and sound. It is based on the content of a collection of facsimile thermal transfer carbon rolls, technological remnants of the rapidly disappearing world of the fax, collected at the Toronto Environmental Alliance over a ten-year period. The pieces contain the imprint of past faxes that included both campaign, political – and now historical – documents of the organization, and a plethora of unwanted commercial advertisements. For Cc: me Whittaker reuses the rolls as drawing material and montage, and as the base for the Bioart installations. A copy of the transfers traces and fragments onto prepared wax boards, sheets of mylar, and inserted into petri dishes cultured with Halobacterium sp. NRC-1. Sketched in the form of human figures, the artworks become shadowy iterations of the body, conveying images of mutable histories, degraded texts and transformative ecology. Several pieces are interpreted by four established local poets, transformed into evocative expressions of wit, longing, memory, hardship and life – installations of word and object.

 

    
    Repetitions and Traces
    
How easily trepidations and passions become,
    over a lifetime, obsessions, repeating
  like Ohrwürme or, rather, the leitmotifs
		of Wagnerian operas
		   Schubert sonatas
	   Whittaker halobacteria – such

				iterations

     and reiterations assuming the form
not of carbon copies, more like inscriptions
   on the carbon scrolls of fax machines –
 jingles and advert slogans, a kind of pre-
   internet spam, interpolated among
     the messages senders intended

 	all interlaced into a ghostly
      tracery of words like the faint,
    sometimes blurred, often almost
      fully erased residues of us
      others may retain after we
       have returned to carbon.