Three Little Words

Screenprint in an edition of 15, 56 x 76 cm.

'Three Little Words' poem by Jim Carruth. The image was created for the project 'Poetry Beyond Text - Vision, Text & Cognition'.

This work features a series of three-line poetic fragments from Jim Carruth’s poem of the same title. Carruth is a poet whose work is often focused on the life of farmers and rural dwellers; in this poem he was responding to the Foot and Mouth Disease Virus (FMDV) which most recently devastated UK livestock in 2001. Many viruses (including FMDV) are based on icosahedral geometry. This architecture, which forms the ‘shell’ of the virus, is often represented in scientific diagrams as an icosahedron with triangular or trapezoid faces. It was felt that these faces would serve to carry the words of the work across the polyhedral form without losing the impact of the poem. The background textures are derived from satellite photography of farmland in Jim Carruth's local area of Renfrewshire.

The aesthetic effect in this print with text is reminiscent of fifteenth and sixteenth century alchemical images, which encoded, classified and presented forms of knowledge simultaneously. Given the fact that alchemical images were made to share knowledge safely with the trained scholar through visual metaphor, it is no accident that the scientific depictions of knowledge in the twenty-first and fifteenth centuries find such resonance in the scientifically inspired work of Robertson and Carruth here.