Timothy Furstnau is a writer, artist, and curator based in Oakland, CA. He received an MFA from the Digital Arts and New Media program at UCSC in 2016. His writing and text installations have appeared in many print venues and public spaces. His book “How It Hurts,” a study guide for pain examinations, was released by Publication Studio in 2015. As one half of the collaborative studio FICTILIS, his work has been exhibited widely. He is also co-founder and curator of the Museum of Capitalism, and creator of Writ Large, a festival and commissioning program for screen-based writing.
LEGACY ‘ABOUT’ TEXT
[Archived here because some people told me they liked it.]
I want to make work that speaks for itself, but it never quite does, does it? We need it to be about something, or at least to be something. And we need to speak for it. Okay then….
My work, in the form of text art, poetry, print, performance, curatorial, participatory or social practice projects, is an exploration of the social through the use and misuse of language.
I like to play with the conventions of existing genres, often non-“literary” ones, to examine what’s possible or appropriate to say in a given social situation, and to foreground the relationships between artist/subject/audience/environment that are required to create or sustain my work.
Studies in anthropology and linguistics, about the roles that art and language play in human culture, help me view creative work as a kind of continuous laboratory for social organization, which attempts to repeatedly pose the questions “How do/can/should we live?”
I like to take things “too far”, to explore the varied permutations of a simple idea, or follow basic propositions or sets of rules to their logical (and often absurd) conclusions.
I’m interested in pragmatics, spoken language in action, the performance of text, advertising, public relations, signage, and text in public places, lists, archives, and practices of labeling and taxonomy, lexicography and generative (corpus-sourced or database-driven) practices of textual production, and waste in all its forms.
Text is everywhere, inescapable. Text disrupts everyday life or mediates it directly, our experience happening with text, through text, as text. I want my work to carry the same force or subtlety carried by the text in our public and private lives; I want to enable my work to be encountered in the same unexpected ways and distributed via new or unlikely channels; and I want to keep gaining, and to share, a renewed sense of the possibilities for text as art and the joys of language itself.
The more I work, the less important I think it is that people grasp what something is “about” than that they lose grasp of what exactly it is – that they come away asking “What was that?” and feeling, maybe, that the world, and our dealings within it, can be “about” much more than we may have thought.
If none of this makes sense, go back to the work. Always go back to the work. I still want it to speak for itself, and I’m still trying to teach it how.
STILL OLDER, ORIGINAL ‘ABOUT’ TEXT
This website is an inexhaustive archive of some of my projects that can be presented well enough online. Many of them attempt to use text or textual genres in new ways, to engage or organize people socially, or to build alternative institutions. And many come naturally from the various relationships and occupations I’ve had. Some projects have their own websites elsewhere. Other projects live offline or simply can’t be presented well here. Others I do anonymously or surreptitiously. The truth is that, although I seem to organize my life around these projects, I haven’t made it much of a priority to document or share them. With this website I hope to change that.
With my partner Andrea Steves, I work as FICTILIS, on a project basis, across many types of media, genres, and disciplines, sometimes with other partners and collaborators, according to the conceptual and technical requirements of the project at hand. This can take the form of installation, exhibition, performance, social practice, and other hybrid/participatory projects, and often incorporates research, writing, music, video, and other media new and old, interior design, curating, publications, pop-up spaces and services, and event organizing. See more at fictilis.com.