Tender Buttons is the future. Neither cipher nor code, the grammar of Tender Buttons forces the reader to play Stein. Stein’s obsession with perspective, her collection of objects, food, rooms, produces a scene of constraints (the rules of the game): a discrete spatial field where coordinates shift as the text’s gravity swerves. A game board. No, a bored game.
Poet, artist, composer and publisher Dick Higgins’ culminating work might be his 1987 study, Pattern Poetry: Guide to an Unknown Literature. The categories he draws up, and the drawing up of them, are as fascinating as the examples in this profusely illustrated book. Categories that replace received notions of prosody in visual terms call for new units of measure. Why replace? Because we equate poetry with verse, using the old would make the term “pattern poetry” redundant, short-circuiting its explanatory power.
It's not possible to overstate the importance of Philadelphia’s ICA to the world of contemporary art, from around 1965 on. There was the night of October 8, 1965, the opening of Andy Warhol’s first solo museum show, held at ICA (then located in the Fisher Fine Arts Library). It was a moment that was “arguably the turning point of Warhol's career.” ICA hasn't missed an opportunity to push and innovate and suggest. Tony Smith in 1966. Christo in '68. “Chance and Art” in 1970. Agnes Martin in 1973. “Video Art” in 1975.