March 1, 2010

New Fiction at Cavalier Literary Couture

In 1973 Michael Craig-Martin created a work of art he called "An Oak Tree." Because to many it appeared to be a glass of water on a shelf, the work was accompanied with a helpful text in Q&A form. Here is an excerpt:

Q. To begin with, could you describe this work?

A. Yes, of course. What I've done is change a glass of water into a full-grown oak tree without altering the accidents of the glass of water.

Q. The accidents?

A. Yes. The colour, feel, weight, size ...

Q. Do you mean that the glass of water is a symbol of an oak tree?

A. No. It's not a symbol. I've changed the physical substance of the glass of water into that of an oak tree.

Q. It looks like a glass of water.

A. Of course it does. I didn't change its appearance. But it's not a glass of water, it's an oak tree.

Q. Can you prove what you've claimed to have done?

A. Well, yes and no. I claim to have maintained the physical form of the glass of water and, as you can see, I have. However, as one normally looks for evidence of physical change in terms of altered form, no such proof exists.

Q. Haven't you simply called this glass of water an oak tree?

A. Absolutely not. It is not a glass of water anymore. I have changed its actual substance. It would no longer be accurate to call it a glass of water. One could call it anything one wished but that would not alter the fact that it is an oak tree.

So impressed was playwright Tim Crouch with the liberating possibilities of Craig-Martin's oak tree that he made himself a promise: His next work would be called "An Oak Tree," no matter what it was about. Here is an excerpt of Tim Crouch's 2005 play, "An Oak Tree":

Last fall, I had the great fortune to attend a writing workshop run by Tim Crouch at the Boston ICA. So impressed was I with Tim Crouch's workshop that I made myself a promise: My next story would be called "An Oak Tree," no matter what it was about. The following morning I woke up with an idea and wrote the story, "An Oak Tree," which you can now read here, at Cavalier Literary Couture.

1 comment:

Steven Augustine said...

This comment doesn't fit in this box!