It was in the 7th century that Irish scribes began to introduce spaces between words in written texts. Previously, a “scriptio continua” method was used, where words flowed continuously without breaks, making the text a single undifferentiated mass. It’s thought that this transition transformed reading from an oral and public activity to a silent and solitary one.
I look at the picture. I read the text and realize its relation to the images under the words: they are spatially arranged in a pattern described by the language. I continue to read, and my attention oscillates between these two modes of seeing: reading and looking to verify; apprehend. The images are oblique — slightly wrong in one way or another — though it is hard to describe why. The text runs from top to bottom, left to right, but the contents it concerns are inside-out, from the center to the edges. As I move along the text, I’m also moving outward. The configuration described and depicted is not strictly logical, and though a composite in one’s mind forms, it never resolves into something complete and coherent.
Images are increasingly detached from the physical processes that once defined their creation. Instead, a novel connection with language has emerged, restructured for new intelligences, and with it, a similar inward turn from public to private. This transformation prompts a reconsideration of the traditional understanding of a sentence. The concept of a sentence must be understood not in its grammatical sense but in the sense of an organism expressive of a perfect meaning, whether in a simple exclamation or in a vast poem.