I explore the boundaries between art and poetry in my recent collages composed of bits of lettering and the empty spaces between them. Stripped of literary meaning, these works rely on composition, rhythm and visual movement to convey their meaning which is ambiguous and intuitive. These works are constructed from distressed street posters or roadside billboards that are been carefully edited and inlayed bits of printed matter creating passages that move from figure to ground and then reverse back to figure through gentle curves, irregular grids and subtle shading techniques. Snippets of lettering almost become recognizable letters or perhaps proposals for a new poetic alphabet but always slip back into forms and spaces creating enigmatic and open to, simultaneously plausible interpretations.
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My work covers a wide range of ideas. Some of it is purely collage – about gluing found papers together and some of it, since the late 1990’s  is about addressing visual or concrete poetry. My poetry however is not about words but rather about the foundations of written language, namely the typography and space, color and surface of language. My work is nearly always related to abstraction and non-objectivity. If letters are formed into words, they become referential or, as an artist might say; representational. I do not want to make visual poetry that refers to what it is not. I want it to be free to be exactly what it is, to be appreciated as itself alone and not in the service of something outside of itself.

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My work continues to be influenced by ideas related to poetry, information, massurrealism, the internet and abstraction. Much of my work this last two years has been involved with the use of lettering to create abstract relationships and rhythms. I have been writing - or rather constructing - a great deal of collage poetry composed of electronic email and other digital texts found on the internet and collage
sound works composed of electronically manipulated snippets of sound from a wide variety of sources but most related to or found on the internet. In fact the internet is the central theme of much of my activities though, artistically I do not have much interest in the 'digital'  or high tech look. I am not particularity interested in mechanical forms of artistic production at this time but still regard the practice of art making as a spiritually based activity. What I mean by 'spiritually based' is somewhat ambiguous. It has to do with one's personal relationship to the life around one and the inner promptings of the heart - of intuition: of  an intuitive process of working.  Collage for me is the perfect medium for this form of expression because one's involvement is based in the development of a sensitivity toward and an appreciation of the materials one is working with, which in almost all cases are ephemeral in nature. This fleeting quality of papers and the messages and images they contain seems a fitting material for the contemplation of our temporal condition


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Touchon’s work helps us to see more clearly something that has always been present in language of any sort: a certain claustrophobia; a claustrophobic feeling that something new and unknown gives us like confronting the elements of letters from a foreign language that we cannot convert to a familiar ‘known’.

 There’s a need in our culture to find the recognizable letters, the meaning, the obvious context of words and to move fluidly to the next word without becoming “caught”. We secretly want to avoid confronting that terror that seems to plague our encounters with texts; that we will not “get it”. With visual poetry we’re often pressed up against language and all of its parts. Touchon’s works contain that panic. We are forced out of the comfort zone in our mind’s constant dialog and onto the surface of his works that become the battleground of our resistance.
 
These works are an exploration of a classic modernist philosophical issue that dates back to the dawn of modern painterly concerns: non-objectivity and, in Touchon’s case, its relationship to the world of language and poetry. There is a tension between a non objective work and what the mind thinks about when confronted by its hermetic quietude.
 
Touchon’s non-objective poetic works free the words and letters from their service as carriers of meaning and let their forms communicate from a dignified silence in the primal language of visual art. Repetition, composition, rhythm, contrast, scale, proportion, surface and the resultant harmony experienced or aesthetic response that we have to the work as a totality, form the poetic response that we are reading in these works.

One discovers a musicality in these works that convey an intellectual and artistic rigor that gives expression to that realm where words and their meanings fall away and only the eye looks on in a hushed silence.
 
As we explore Touchon’s works we realize that they have been carefully and consciously composed to release their secrets over an extended viewing of them. We sense that we can probably be surprised by these paintings even after years of repeated viewings. These paintings exhibit a knowledge that we, as viewers, acquire our understanding through the building up of thousands of ‘focal moments’ as our small focal point moves around the work following the rhythms of the arabesques and discover the forms and motifs that reecho across the works.
 
Artists and poets engage in a trans-temporal dialog speaking to each other across the centuries through their works. Like mystics, they know that their works will have a lasting resonance and that they will inspire and prod and console certain creative souls of future generations as they have been by those whom they study and revere. As viewers we have an opportunity to peek into their conversation through our study of their works.

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I have taken an interest in street posters and roadside billboards and the large typographic shapes that they contain in a quest to move from the small, intimate scale I have been accustomed to, toward a comparatively larger scale of work that might allow me to work on canvas and panel supports without losing the attention to detail. I think of these works as a sort of nonobjective, visual or concrete poetry whose interest is of a purely visual nature not tied to literary meaning or commercial utility.

<>Kazimir Malevich said in his manifesto of Suprematism;

“‘Practical life’, like a homeless vagabond, forces its way into every artistic form and believes itself to be the genesis and reason for the existence of this form. But the vagabond does not tarry long in one place and once he is gone (when the utilitarian usefulness has passed) the full artistic value of the work remains.”

     The Non-Objective World based on a 1959 translation from German - Paul Theobald and Company

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Similarly, I see these works of mine as liberating the forms of language from the practical utility of being carriers of some commercially driven corporate message, allowing them to exist purely for their own sake as shapes, curves, rhythms and colors.

My interest in this idea was first engendered in 1998 as I entered Mexico City in the middle of the night after a long drive through the northern desert. Towering above the highway at the scale of the large urban architecture were brightly lit billboard advertisements seemingly by the hundreds. Some of these billboards had completely abstract designs on them created by the billboard owner having had the advertiser’s message scrambled by rearranging the sign panels and thus destroying the advertiser’s message but leaving all of the elements in an unreadable condition.

Soon after I began to experiment with the idea and to pay attention to such signs for ideas for my own work. Some signs, my favorites, were just lettering that had been shifted around to create abstract shapes. These eventually became a central focus of my own compositions.
A lot of my collage art depends a great deal on serendipitous discovery. This allows a certain amount of chance and randomness to find its way into my work which in turn makes possible an interactive dynamic between my own inner life and the influence of the surrounding environment.

The main problem was, until I returned to the United States, I didn’t seem to be able to come across the large billboard material in Mexico and so I satisfied myself with the ready and renewable materials around me which happened to be the street posters many of which were for wrestling matches. This is the material used for the work included here in this anthology.

When I returned to Texas in 2005 I began to notice that many of the secondary smaller billboards were still covered with paper signs (as opposed to the new vinyl materials being used) and that, when it rained for 2 or 3 days at a time, the paper would begin to peal and fall from the backing. Soon I had a garage full of these wayward papers where I soak and separate them and cut them to manageable sizes for storage and have been adjusting my collage techniques to fit this new exciting material.

My current working process tends to be very meditative sitting in front of a canvas or large piece of paper for hours at a time carefully cutting and fitting together the many parts that end up being my current work.