Royal College of Art
Writing, Publishing, Art Direction
Near, Variations. A collaborative publication made by students from the MA critical writing programme at RCA. 11 writers, 11 designers. Design concept Tuoman Kortteinen.
How close can you get to something through writing? What does depth look like in narrative – placing one object in front of another? Can a writer manipulate their position in relation to what they’re writing about, perhaps to disappear entirely from view? What happens when a subject stands parallel to another? What if the gaze is completely flipped and inverted? Alternatively, what if you embody the object of your study – what if it sits within you? Using a prompt as a unifying parameter, the eleven essays in Near, Variations attempt to reconsider written description as a rival to visual depiction. The texts devise strategies to achieve proximity to their subject, at the level of content as well as form. Spanning art, music, poetry and film, the texts in Near, Variations are also enquiries into what constitutes an essay, slipping in and out of different critical registers, circling an elusive objective mode, often rejecting it altogether. So framed, Near, Variations is a window, and just as a window is both seen through as well as looked out of, as often as writing an essay is about its subject, it is also about its author, and as often as it is about its author, it is also about its reader.