Liliane Lijn

Kinetic artist and creator of rotating conical 'poetry machines'.

In a text from 1968, Liliane Lijn wrote, "WORDS = VIBRATIONS = ENERGY ". Over the past forty years, Lijn has explored this idea through numerous kinetic artworks. In the early 1960s, she began experimenting with painting horizontal lines on revolving cylinders. Having decided to put words on the cylinders, she collaborated with the poet and filmmaker Nazli Nour, who had asked Lijn if she could "make her poems move". Lijn extracted words and phrases from Nour's poems and used Letraset to apply them to her cylinders.

Around this same time, Lijn also began to experiment with truncated cone shapes inscribed with words in rhythmic circles and ellipses that visually recalled the sound of the text. The cones were placed on revolving record turntables. Lijn first showed her Poem Machines in La Librairie Anglaise in Paris, a popular spot for Beat artists and writers. In 1968, she was commissioned by the ICA to make a work for the exhibition Guillaume Apollinaire 1880–1918: A Celebration. The result, exhibited again here, is Poemkon=D=4=Open=Apollinaire. The cone has remained an important formal consideration for Lijn throughout her career, and she continues to investigate the notion of words, sub-atomic particles and reality in flux.

Liliane Lijn was born in New York in 1939. After studying Archaeology at the Sorbonne and Art History at the Ecole du Louvre in Paris, she has spent periods of time in Greece before eventually settling in the UK. In 2005, Lijn became the first artist in residence at the Space Sciences Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, where she experimented with Aerogel, a material developed by NASA.

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