Art practices/Metagraphy

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Metagraphy or Post-writing is one of the Art practices developed by the Art movements of Lettrism and Situationism

Like hypergraphy it is a combination of abstract, realistic and letterist forms - but unlike hypergraphy it incorporates whole texts also in order to form a cybernetic synthesis.

Détournement and metagraphy[edit | edit source]

Apart from the various direct uses of detourned phrases in posters, records and radio broadcasts, the two main applications of detourned prose are metagraphic writings and, to a lesser degree, the adroit perversion of the classical novel form. [...]
Metagraphic writing, no matter how outdated its plastic framework may be, presents far richer opportunities for detourning prose, as well as other appropriate objects or images. One can get some idea of this from the project, conceived in 1951 but eventually abandoned for lack of sufficient financial means, which envisaged a pinball machine arranged in such a way that the play of the lights and the more or less predictable trajectories of the balls would form a metagraphic-spatial composition entitled Thermal Sensations and Desires of People Passing by the Gates of the Cluny Museum Around an Hour after Sunset in November. We have since come to realize that a situationist-analytic enterprise cannot scientifically advance by way of such works. The means nevertheless remain suitable for less ambitious goals.

from A User’s Guide to Détournement, GUY DEBORD, GIL J WOLMAN 1956

Exercises[edit | edit source]

Magazine cut-ups and collage

1. Take an advert from a magazine.

2. Re-arrange the elements so that the meaning is reversed.

Détournement exercises[edit | edit source]

  1. Take a comic and blank out all text
  2. Replace with your own text (or detourned text)
  1. Take a video
  2. Remove soundtrack
  3. Add a different (detourned) soundtrack

Discussion[edit | edit source]

  • What is the difference between collage and metagraphy?
  • What is the difference between hypergraphy and metagraphy?

Examples[edit | edit source]

some examples:


Fin de l’université (End the University), poster circulated by the Council for the Maintenance of the Occupations, set up by the Situationist International during the university occupations of 1968. Courtesy: BnF, Paris, Fonds Guy Debord

See also[edit | edit source]