Session 2 / Death of the Author

H.R. Buechler

H.R. Buechler is an interdisciplinary artist, researcher, and founder of OXBLOOD Publishing. She is the 2016-2018 Victor Hammer Fellow at the Wells College Book Arts Center in Aurora, NY, a 2016 recipient of the CBAA Project Assistance Grant, the 2015-2016 Windgate Resident for the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum, and former Print Production Fellow for the Journal of Artists’ Books (JAB). Her work can be found in numerous collections in the US and internationally, including the Yale University Library, Centre Pompidou of Paris, France, and the University of Regina Library in Regina, SK, Canada. She holds an M.F.A. in Interdisciplinary Book and Paper Arts from Columbia College Chicago, and a B.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.


Creator's Statement

Session 2 / Death of the Author is the second durational performance as essay in the body of work, Wires + Waves.

This second session continues to address ideas presented in Session 1 / Are We Electric?, wherein the performer ostensibly performs the intellectual process of translation/distillation of knowledge—the body as conduit—seeking to understand any quantifiable reasoning behind linguistic action, exposing translational error, while trying to connect seemingly disparate ideas surrounding our understanding and experience of communication and its relationship to and as various form(s). Session 2 utilizes Roland Barthes' The Death of the Author as a source text for deeper investigation of the aforementioned ideas through a multimedia exploration of the essay, which itself functions as catalyst and contextual evidence.

In the spirit of Henri Chopin, Barthes’ essay is uttered/transmitted from the reader/user/performer and captured via contact mics affixed to non-oral resonating points of the body; obfuscating the linguistic authority of the author and the text itself. During oration electric shocks are administered via a violet ray [1] at points when errors/glitches occurred after processing/reproducing the essay through multiple translation platforms (book → PDF → .docx → online morse generator → morse [sonic] → morse [code] → .docx → W+W [2]). The shocks illuminate and punctuate these errors while interfering in both oral utterance and electric transmission—an effort to keep the original transference of knowledge whole by retrieving what was lost in translation.

It is an attempt to perform what Barthes has written without losing its essence.


[1] “A violet ray is an antique medical appliance used during the early 20th century in the obsolete medical therapy called electrotherapy. Their construction usually feature a combination of a disruptive discharge coil with an interrupter to apply a high voltage, high frequency, and low current to the human body for therapeutic purposes.” (Wikipedia).

[2] W+W is a "typeface" designed by H.R. Buechler in response to re-visualize the sonic occurrence of morse, consisting of a pattern of thick and thin lines

Works Consulted

Appadurai, Arjun. “Introduction: Commodities and the Politics of Value.” The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective, Cambridge University Press, 1986, pp. 3–63.

Barthes, Roland. “The Death of the Author.” Image, Music, Text, Hill and Wang, 1977, pp. 142–148.

Schleiermacher, Friedrich. “On the Different Methods of Translating.” The Translation Studies Reader, 3rd ed., Routledge, 2012, pp. 43–63.

Zielinski, Siegfried. “Electrification, Tele-Writing, Seeing Close Up: Johann Wilhelm Ritter, Joseph Chudy, and Jan Evangelista Purkyne.” Deep Time of the Media: Toward an Archaeology of Hearing and Seeing by Technical Means, MIT Press, 2008, pp. 159–204.

Special thanks to Mikaela Mehlrose who handled the violet ray for the work.