Kansas City Public Library 1992

The Mobius Text Project

Alexi Morrissey
Tony Allard

M O B I U S   T E X T

2 descriptions:

The Public Library is a place for answers. We go there in search of certain truths. In this fixed course of action one might forget the entity, the whole system of concentrated information, desire, and genius that is the Public Library. In this collection of hard logic lies a time machine, where future knowledge is researched on past histories in a timeless atmosphere. This research and the writing that follows is an attempt to order and quantify dreams and abstract concepts. This is when language becomes our foothold in reality, giving voice to all our notions about the universe in which we live. The advantage of language is that it can be abstracted, stripped of logic, and still be recognized in a given cultural context.

The Mobius Text is a perishable occasion, an ephemeral conduit in which that abstraction can flow evenly. By acting as translator/scribes the typists on the Mobius strip are conductors of an electron flow which gains its charge from participant observers (people in the library for there own reasons to begin with) reading aloud to the typists for a brief time from texts they have chosen out of the collection. These brief interactions are recorded not word for word, but at the speed of a manual typewriter physically punching each letter onto cotton–an artifact. For five to eight hours this exchange continues with many different readers and texts until the Mobius strip (40-60-ft unlcoped) is full of the day’s history and poetry of the Public Library.

Alexi Morrissey
Newark, DE
2 Novermber 1994

Connected by the Mobius strip, two minds commence writing together to invoke a third, the mind of a phantom poet, the author of the Mobius Text. This third mind scribes the contours of these “momentary deities” these bits of chanced-upon verse onto the cloth surface of the slowly turning Mobius strip. The two writer/typists, conjoined at the head and immersed in the hard copy data banks of the Public Library, start fresh in the morning, creating a text that serves witness to the poetry embedded in the immense history of written words. At the end of the day, the Mobius Text is cut from the text machines and serves as an improvised thought made visible.

For three hours, four hours, five hours, six hours, or more, the Mobius strip turns, receiving the newly forming poetry and recombinant histories generated in the third mind. The two writers, conjoined by various communications technologies, process the sounded words provided by participants into the two-chambered intellect of the third mind, where they are then made physical onto the Moblus strip. Within this looped zone of collaboration, both writers and participant/observers share in a fortuitous succession of word sparks, improvised thoughts, and direct transcription. The act of composing poetry becomes an adventure through the syntactical theatre of mistakes, through sprouting branches on the tree of knowledge, through the alphabetized revelations that lay in wait within the shelved print-bound histories of the Public Library.

Tony Allard
Kansas City, MO
31 October 1994