The Figures, 2003
(Publishers Weekly, July 21, 2003)
Over the last 10 years, Goldsmith has gone further in exploring language-as-found-object that any other artist or writer, creating often impossibly long, but very simply conceived books that turn out to be very beautiful. For two years, he "collected" all of the phrases he encountered ending in the sound "r" and then arranged them by syllable count (No. 111); spent an entire Bloomsday dictating his every body movement into a tape recorder and transcribed it hour-by-hour (Fidget); and recorded every word he spoke for a week, with the transcription resulting in the grand seven days of Soliloquy. Day doesn't reneg on Goldsmith's practice of extreme transcription. It consists of the New York Times for Friday, September 1, 2000, retyped-page by page, column by column, line by line-reducing multiple font sizes to 9-point Bookman Old Style and ignoring instructions to turn where stories continue. The book taps into the deepest strains of Pop Art's leveling of artistic and social hierarchies: Andre Agassi's third round loss to Arnauld Clement in the 2000 French Open runs up against Wall Street's still zoomy numbers (by far the most pages here), Ecstasy use at the Nile Night Club in New Jersey, ads for children's clothes, strike planning by workers at Bridgestone/Firestone factories in Illinois and Tennessee, "wireless LAN products with direct-sequence systems," "GARDEN CINEMA NORWALK ISAAC STREET 838-4504" and many other narratives and notices. This book is the grinning slacker brother to Chaucer's cross-class ventriloquy in The Canterbury Tales, one that, in essence, arrives hot off the press every day. This full-frontal act of appropriation makes the paper weigh over five pounds, and one wonders whether the Times's lawyers will see it as an attack or a Warholian Brillo Box-like opportunity. Meanwhile, Goldsmith's work continues (as one article notes of the University of Maine Museum) "performing its functions of acquiring, conserving and exhibiting in very positive ways."