Project 1: Exercise 1.5 Action

On reading the instructions for this exercise it seemed simple … but words can be deceptive as this has proved to be one of the more difficult exercises.  The instructions were to look at some words that inspire action  – the list is one that Richard Serra, a Minimalist sculptor and video artist, drew up and placed on his studio wall to inspire creativity when he hit a mental block.  From this list I am required to choose 5 verbs and manipulate paper in the way the word suggests in 2 or 3 different ways ….. as I found out much easier said than done!

img_4821TO SPRAY – my immediate thought was to give the impression the letter ‘S’ in the word was spraying water or similar out from either end but after that how could I interpret the word?

I chose to do two simple torn paper interpretations – one thinking of a hose spraying water and the other tearing strips along a piece of paper but then folding the paper so it became curved and the ‘spray’ was going in different directions.

I deliberately chose to work with wallpaper scraps for some of my examples and for this one the paper has what could be deemed a watery print on it which further enhances the word – as I was not happy with my samples I felt I needed all the help I could get!   I am happy with the letter ‘s’ but not happy with the other samples although at this point I cannot think of another way of interpreting the verb.

img_4822TO ROTATE – as with each of my samples I tried to interpret the verb in the first letter of the word in my sketchbook and for this one I twisted some strips around to try to ‘rotate’ the paper.

This selection of samples could also be used to illustrate the verb ‘to twist’ from the list.

My second sample I tore the paper into a spiral so that the paper was rotating around the centre – I admit to being completely stuck at this point due to the definition of ‘rotate’ being ‘to cause to turn around an axis or centre point’ or to ‘go through a cycle of changes’ or ‘follow a fixed route of succession’ according to  Even though you know what the verbs mean it is more difficult than expected to try to translate this meaning into a physical action using paper.

For the third sample I cut strips into a circle and twisted each one – each strip was rotated and each are centred around the central axis – this feels more successful although I wanted to use a brass pin so that the paper itself could rotate.

img_4823TO TIE – my favourite of the verbs I chose!  ‘to tie’ could also refer to ‘to knot’ in my samples due to my interpretation of using the verb ‘to tie something up’ usually involves a knot – these samples are effectively two verbs in one.

For the letter ‘T’ I simply tied the paper together and then for the other samples I tied a knot and a bow of a basic nature.

These are the samples I am most happy with but perhaps because it was one of the more obvious verbs to use.

img_4824TO JOIN – another verb I thought I would have several ideas for and then was completely stumped!

I initially ‘joined’ the paper for the letter ‘n’ by  folding the paper to create false joins which I feel is effective and has potential for further manipulation.

The second sample I took 2 strips of paper and folded them together so that they became joined – for the purposes of my sketchbook the samples are taped in but I am very much aware that this particular technique can be effective  because as a child I would help my parents join folded newspapers like this to use as firelighters in the bottom of our grate.

The third sample I simply folded the paper strips to create a join before folding the strips around each other to create a second join.  At this point I realised I could use the joins to create the verbs ‘to suspend’ or ‘to fold’.

img_4825TO HINGE – in my sketchbook I have written instructions that to create the verb the viewer needs to pull down on the strips of paper as the hinges are created by the folds in each of the different samples.


This exercise has really made me think about how I can use paper to interpret different verbs and words and also how frustrating it can be when you know what the word means due to common usage but it is much more difficult to translate that meaning into a physical form as I have mentioned above.  Some verbs and words have obvious paper forms but many others on the list are much more difficult particularly if you are using ONLY paper and no drawing or sketching to supplement and add further meaning or description.  I have copied this list out and have clipped it near my own desk as a source of reference and ideas in the same manner in which Richard Serra intended.

I have consulted the dictionary for exact definitions with each of the verbs – the ones I have chosen are such common usage it is easy to be lazy with the definition although I knew the meanings well.  The dictionary definitions were also useful for interpretation purposes and helped rationalise my thoughts.

Am I happy with my samples? yes and no – some I feel have been successful such as ‘to join’ or ‘to tie’ whilst ‘to rotate’ or ‘to spray’ I feel have been less than successful and could potentially be interpreted as different verbs.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 2017.  rotate [online].  [Date accessed:  21 February 2017].  Available from:

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