Naomi Crocker

Still emerging,

they are the same thing at different moments.

Time travels.

Conjunctions, oppositions, and eclipses.

(How can I edit this?)

(Those words can be considered.)

Not dry.

We may evolve,

and to find it is free and profitable.

In recent years, I have begun exploring more intentionally the ways that my work as a museum administrator can have creative applications outside of the office. As part of my admin role, I am asked on a daily basis to title documents, name files, and give context to often complex communications, which is similar to the processes – drafting title pages, colophons, incipits, and explicits – utilized by the architects of my inspiration object from the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library (HMML). The act of organizing information is consistently on my mind professionally and I am interested in using my artistic practice to investigate it further.  

I specifically chose the object HMML 00245 because of its layered and somewhat confusing nature, as well as the fact that it exhibits multiple, early examples of “titles”. HMML 00245 is comprised of three sections – a handwritten manuscript and two printed works – with different temporal and geographic origins, bound into a single volume. While the binding dates to the 18th-century, it is not known whether the object’s 15th-century works were in a bound volume prior to the 18th century or gathered in the 18th century into their current collation. Via its first section, the Lunari of Bernat de Granollachs, HMML 00245 also holds a close relationship to the moon: a body that despite its ever-changing form is referred to in most languages by a single name. I was drawn to this lunar connection, as well as the notion of how difficult it might be to produce a single title or interpretation for an object with such diverse components.

At the outset of my residency research, I learned that several new mechanisms for organizing contents were invented during the Late Manuscript Culture period - roughly the mid-fourteenth to fifteenth century – including page numbers, title pages, and colophons. Through HMML 00245, I began to consider how the introduction of these elements may have changed the way individuals experienced manuscripts and early books psychologically, practically, or otherwise. What emerged in response was a conceptual work that integrates the mediums of sculpture and poetry – the tangible and intangible, the object and the words that name it – to investigate the act of titling’s many applications: titling official documents and creative works, job titles, and deeds of appellation, whether it be the names we give our own identities or the labels we ascribe to others.

The work consists of two complementary elements: a physical sculpture and a series of titles for the sculpture that change on a daily basis. Like the moon of Bernat de Granollachs’ Lunari, the physical sculpture is constantly in motion, making it difficult to identify the specific or static thing that is to be titled. The sculpture’s primary components – wood and copper – reference materials used in printing.

There was no single method for arriving at the potential titles in the series and I documented many more possibilities than were chosen for the final iterations. Their sources were excerpts from research materials, phrases from internal dialogues, email exchanges, and conversations had during the creation of the work, translation exercises involving random passages from HMML 00245’s contents, and words that I encountered in other contexts during the Pancake House/HMML residency period that seemed serendipitously related to the project. Seeking to further reject a binary-driven, “this not that” titling operation in favor of something more expansive, the series of individual titles will ultimately be organized and presented as a cohesive poem. The intent is that the poem serve as a linguistic manifestation of the physical sculpture and emerge as a companion entity with a layered identity all its own.

Artist Statement

Naomi E. Crocker is a Minneapolis-based artist, whose work explores the boundaries
between seemingly-disparate disciplines. She is drawn to acts of facilitation, but also
utilizes performance, sculpture, sound, installation, and text-based practices. Naomi’s
projects often consider humanity's relationship with language (oral, written & gestural)
and she is frequently inspired by linguistic histories, processes, and structures. Naomi
holds a B.A. in Linguistics, an M.A. in Second Languages & Cultures Education, and
works as both an independent researcher and administrator primarily within museums
and cultural organizations.