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The Daily Poet

13 Aug 2022 to 27 Aug 2022
Opening 5pm Saturday 13 August
The funkiest text-based artwork
Event type: 
Art
Price: 
Free
Venue: 
Gallery Anomalous
Address: 
16a Hamilton Road, Surfdale, Waiheke Island
Region: 
Auckland

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The Daily Poet  is a fictional newspaper, whose headlines are a little different.

It's also an exhibition of text-based work by acclaimed Waiheke Island-based multi-dimensional artist, poet and writer Alex Stone.

The Daily Poet will be opening at Gallery Anomalous in Surfdale on Saturday 13 August, at 5pm, with live music by Gráinneog and Nyara.

Alex Stone’s take on the news

FROM THE TOWN CRIER spreading it by voice in villages to it going viral on the internet globally,

the dissemination of the news has come a long way in the last few centuries.

From the Venetians inventing the world's first newspaper in the 16th Century, distributed widely and weekly, these papers focussed on current war and politics. Newspapers these days comment on anything and everything, the content ranges from political debate to abhorrent war crimes to personal tragedies to feel-good stories to tabloids with celebrity gossip and scandal spewed out content that contradicts the content printed yesterday and read by millions of people online and in print around the world at alarming rates.

The printing press was invented by the monks who were the ones who read and wrote what they wanted, for the wider distribution of their messages. What they wanted to be known by the common folk.

The media and control of the ‘news’ have historically been a privilege only given to the elite and powerful, those who had the opportunity for education, the luxury to learn to read and the luxury of time for academic pursuits.

The news from reputed publications was once seen by the majority as the  ‘vessel of truth’. 100 years later we’ve seen how the practice of photojournalism may edit or alter visual information to convey new meanings. How information can be appropriated or manipulated. Fake news has been so mixed with what is real and has highlighted how many people still believe what they are told without question, without delving a bit deeper to question who is telling them this news and what their agenda is. Ignorance is bliss.

We have seen with Trump's era how this blind belief is so dangerous. Things go viral and the groundswell grows bigger than all the parts. Many of us recognise now the inherent bias in many media platforms because luckily we have access to read and understand more than information from just one source.

 

We all know the media is powerful.

The media is a demigod.

But only if we let it be such.

 

Orson Welles rocked the world in 1938 when he went onto the Colombia Broadcasting System Radio Network to read an adaptation of H.G. Wells’s novel The War of the Worlds (1898). Many people listening actually believed that a Martian invasion was taking place and panicked. There is a gullibility of many when it comes to listening to what we are told by the powers that be – the headlines, the media.

Instead of being disillusioned by the news of the world around us, Alex Stone gives us the news in daily poetry riffs.

Much in the way, the Dadaists in the early 20th century adopted the use of the absurd and humour to comment on serious underlying themes: politics, war, religion and the constraints of fitting into traditional society.

Stone says,  “In one of my parallel lives, I've also been a journalist for 40 years. I've lived in a repressive regime (where the blank spaces newspapers started running in places where they knew they'd be censored, were telling and strangely poetic), ones where the writers, storytellers and photographers are inspirationally courageous, and one where the media is inexplicably inadequate. But I've seldom encountered headlines that are truly poetic.”

Stone’s riffs have a beat to them, the words play across the sheet.

This broadsheet is unlike the dreary daily news we receive IRL.

This is upbeat and funny. The words on the page sound good on the tongue...

 

... and the words look good on the page.

 

The font sizes change from line to line, guiding the eye to what is most important. Stone intentionally designs the typography. The block letters, create positive and negative spaces on the page.

These poems could be directives but are the most distant you can get from traditional advertising slogans.

This is a call to action.  A call to laugh at the absurdity of reality, the sorrowful reality of the news, current affairs, and the state of the environment.

With the ‘democratisation’ of the media which has broadened both dissemination and censorship of the ‘news’, there is attendant with this the risks of the dangerous use of this powerful tool. No filter, no censorship, free for all.

With our daily news, we are bombarded with shouting and often ridiculous headlines – which are almost inciting violence and hysteria – to get our attention, to entertain us and sensationalise the everyday.

Alex Stone smashes this to smithereens, a joke at the expense of the ‘fake news’ Trumpism phenomenon.

Stone shows us authority and authenticity. His words have gravitas because they are frank and funny. Like the Beat Poet movement of a previous generation, Stone’s news headlines are poetically experimental and politically discursive for this generation.

Warhol’s Death and Disaster series from 1962 displayed reproductions of the same images repeated side by side in monochromatic colours, taken from newspaper cutting depicting tragic incidents and disasters. This series commented on the media’s use of the tools of repetition and total bombardment of fact and imagery until we, the audience feel oversaturated by too much information and become desensitised to the daily struggles.  Also, the way the paper shows such a variety of headings stories alongside each other – from tragedy to feel-good drivel, with no relative proportionality.  

Alex Stone’s work instead gives us an affirmation, of language distilled to its essence, and it delights us with its celebration of surprise and gives us bright headlines with visual and audible puns.

Stone recognises the power of text and how it can become an image that conveys new meanings to us.

"In this text-based work, I'm playing with ironies inherent in words and their meanings. For while newspaper headlines and posters may scream out facts, both alternate and otherwise, imagine what the poetic headlines of The Daily Poet may suggest - and where they may lead us."

 

Claire Ulenberg

Curator, July 2022

Written by

Alex Stone

6 Aug 2022