Hard Times/Scrabble Value: A Play in 2 Parts (2010)


3 Channel Video / 6 Channel Sound

Hard Times / Scrabble Value: A Play in 2 Parts is an economic and textual analysis of the book “Hard Times” by Charles Dickens. By decoding the book via different filters: Scrabble letter/number use values and noun pictorial representations, factual readings of the source material become “relatively” suggestive, posing a dialectical mode of reasoning and conversational word play.

The 3-channel video is the duration of the audio book equivalent: 4 hours 24 minutes

Full Description

1 Channel of Video / Sound: White screen visual. Sound is a mechanized man's voice describing the qualities of the man speaking, then reading the number "Scrabble" game letter value equivalent of every word in “Hard Times”—from start to finish.

2 Channel of Video / Sound: Black and white split rectangular frames moving to the rhythm and sound of a pen tapping on a table.

3 Channel of Video / Sound: The visuals are graphic compositions in black and white of stills, featuring: pictograms and silhouetted forms of the nouns spoken throughout the duration of “Hard Times,” along with word labels—from start to finish. The rhythm of the presentation corresponds to the tapping of a pen on a table, which derives from the orchestral intro (appropriated from the TV version of the book), and the spoken number value translation of the book.

2 Presentation Formats:

1) 3 Monitors sit side by side. The sound and image of each monitor are in dialogue with one another. 1 of the monitors: featuring the black and white split rectangular frames moderates the conversation—siting in between the 2 other monitors. (Synced) They begin with a white screen and a spoken intro about the man speaking and TV orchestral intro, before continuing their own monologues of information, playing off of one another.

2) 3 Video channels are projected within one frame using a projector. The 6 sound channels are split and amplified using multiple speakers—so as to pan between monologues. (Synced) They begin with a white screen, a spoken intro about the man speaking, and TV orchestral intro, before ensuing their own monologues of information, in dialogue with one another.

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Artist Statement

The central thesis of "Hard Times" is to privilege "facts" over experience and individual interpretation. It speaks of a world and means of education that is not open to making sense through understanding and conversational dialogue but rather, through rules, numbers, and systems. The book is fore grounded within an industrial economy involving mass production. Individual desire and the ability to succeed are often supplanted by calculated projections related to class and long-term productivity.

Dickens was paid by the word to write "Hard Times."

The book talks and talks around a topic: with little use of nouns and adjectives. Most of its meaning can be gleaned through conversational and situational nuance, despite what is asserted.

Credits: Charles Dickens, Hasbro, BBC Television, Microsoft


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