Sirc’s Box Logic

Sirc’s paradigmatic box is The Green Box. He cites Jean Suquet’s take on it to develop his own box logic:

Ninety-four scraps of paper bearing plans, drawings, hastily jotted notes, and freely drawn rough drafts were delivered in bulk. It was up to the reader to shuffle these cards as he or she pleased. There was no author’s name on the cover; the work appeared anonymous and as if offered to the blowing winds. In light of this, I had not the least scruple, when opening it for the first time in 1949 at the request of André Breton, in making it speak (with Marcel Duchamp’s consent) in my own voice; and out of its sparkling randomness, I began fishing words that resonated with something I felt deep inside me, something obscure yet promising illumination. If an interior journey goes deep enough, at some point it arrives where all roads meet. (qtd. 112)

Sirc reads in this an affective encounter with the box, where Duchamp’s experiences and Suquet’s meet, mix, and recombine through the shuffle of the cards—a recurring image of the emergent logic of complexity.

Geoffrey Sirc

Geoffrey Sirc – An Affective Encounter

Box Logic, then, is a “format or method” that offers a “grammar” for transcending essayist prose by creating a space for storing and exhibiting thoughts and passions. The box, for Sirc, is a means to and end—a technology, medium, or method whose affordances create affects, both expressive and conceptual (113). In short, it is both an architecture and an approach to the production of digital texts. Students archive personal collections of texts and images, deriving textual pleasure form their arrangement, juxtaposition, and recombination (113-14).

Sirc’s Eye in a Box

Expanding on this base with a collection of other thinkers who work with the space of a box—Joseph Cornel, Walter Benjamin, George Maciunas—Sirc adds to Duchamp’s logic objects, textiles, music boxes, even sound or noise, built into collages, all arranged into compositional containers via juxtaposition and associational schemes. I’m extending his puncept into more recent digital boxes to develop a stomp box logic.


Duchamp’s Green Box

In Sirc’s essay “Box Logic,” he develops a method for writing with technology out of Duchamp’s Green Box, a collection of personal notes that functions like a prose catalogue, a collection of statements, notes, and sound-bites that make a workable larger structure.

Duchamp’s The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Green Box) (1934) is a limited edition of notes on scraps of paper that details Duchamp’s own invention process during the conception and execution of his work The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass) (1915–23).


The Large Glass

The Large Glass

The Large Glass is oil, varnish, lead foil, lead wire, and dust executed on two glass panels, combining chance procedures and planned studies on perspective. (It’s in the Philadelphia Museum of Art for those going to RSA.)

The Green Box contains 94 individual items that Duchamp called “facsimiles,” mostly hand-written notes from 1911 to 1915. Duchamp “published” 320 individually produced copies of the green cardboard cover, one color plate, photographs, and the ninety-four notes, each printed and torn up to match the borders of the scribbled originals. For Duchamp, The Green Box was an extension of The Large Glass more than an exposition on it.

The Green Box

The Green Box

Intro – Overview

This project extends Geoffrey Sirc’s use of the box as a compositional space in his essay “Box Logic” to include the looped and layered sounds in

  • Boss’s RC-30 Dual Loop Station Guitar Pedal, or stomp box;
  • Ashanti’s Beatjazz, a new digital genre played through the digital boxes he developed as improvisational instruments; and
  • Björk’s Biophilia, her new app-album arranged in the space of the iPad as a compositional box.

In each, fragments of sound are collected, looped, and layered to produce feedback and generate the kinds of buzz, feelings, and affects Sirc sees in Duchamp and is after in his writing assignments. While these sound technologies aren’t as readily available and used as social networking, blogging, presentation, and video technologies, their logics can provide insights into future compositional methods for working with digital spaces and objects.

These examples suggest implications for materialist rhetorics and the role of audience in rhetorical situations. Composers are writing to:

  • the objects and machines and as a primary audience,
  • the entire system or assemblage as a secondary audience, with
  • the human affects created through the system’s feedback as a tertiary audience.

Audience, in short, becomes the rhetorical situation writ-large.