A Collaborative Diversion

matthews and allen

Addendum to A Collaborative Diversion

"A Collaborative Diversion" is a game played between the artistic double act matthews and allen. Prior to their language games matthews and allen establish a set of rules. The rules of this game stipulated that matthews and allen must produce a series of textual digressions by selecting a word from each definition to generate a supplementary meaning, each definition serving to alter the trajectory.

The rules for each game differ; however, recurrent strategies are discernible. A prevalent method adopted by the collaboration is the recontextualisation of existent material. matthews and allen’s use of citation adopts the concepts of deterritorialisation and reterritorialisation, where established configurations are unsettled. Deterritorialisation is that which breaks or fractures an established system and operates under the precondition that meaning is never fixed.

"A Collaborative Diversion" problematises the totalitarian voice of the author through a process of digression from quotation to quotation, utterance to utterance, voice to voice. These digressive movements perform the stuttering and stammering of language where no single perspective attains authority.

matthews and allen’s dialogic game proffers the interposition of delay and the process of deferral from presuppositions to lateral trajectories. The process of deferral in "A Collaborative Diversion" may be aligned with Derridean différance, a neologism derived from the French verb différer combining its double meaning, ‘to differ’ and ‘to defer’, to create a concept which oscillates between the two. The interplay between voices in "A Collaborative Diversion" is conceived as a gesture toward Derridean différance where meaning enters into a process of deferral. The Latin differre, meaning to differ, is considered in relation to the verb defer, suggesting a temporality that delays completion in the ‘play of difference’. The concept of play is not simply an activity but the production of difference though deferral wherein divergent possibilities are generated simultaneously from the same text.

The pluralisation of voices at play in "A Collaborative Diversion" situates itself within the field of Poststructuralist philosophy and attempts to disrupt an arguably entrenched monovocal tradition. The intention of this work is to unsettle autocratic authorialism, an unsettling enacted through a plethora of quotation. The text operates abstractly in collaboration with Ulmer, Deleuze, Beckett, the free dictionary, The Daily Star, et al. to playfully construct an equivalence between established Poststructuralist perspectives and ‘other’ cultural phenomena, an equivalence intended to reflect Kenneth Goldsmith’s suggestion ‘that all data on the network be treated as equal, whether it be a piece of spam or a Nobel laureate’s speech.’ (34)

The inclusion of ‘petits récits’, or ‘small narratives’, in "A Collaborative Diversion" attempts to disrupt the totalising principles of the grand authorial narrative. The text oscillates between the words of authoritative writers and ‘other’ voices, inviting the reader to engage in a proliferative play of possibilities.


Goldsmith, Kenneth. Uncreative Writing. New York: Columbia University Press, 2011.


matthews and allen are collaborative artists practicing in Wales. matthews and allen is the name given to the collaboration between Dr. Helen Matthews AND Dr. Marilyn Allen. Their collaborative Ph.D. research, Two is company/Three is a crowd, was an inquiry into dialogism as a method to disrupt the monovocal tradition. matthews and allen’s practice performs a convergence of art and writing, critical disruption and a ludic approach to language.

They are converse and they converse, they are deliberate and they deliberate, they are appropriate and they appropriate, they are alternate and they alternate, they are contrary and contrary, they are content and content; they are all, they are both, they are many and they are double.

More information about their collaborations can be found on their website: http://www.matthewsandallen.co.uk/.