For Years, I Wrote in Code to Protect Others from My Thinking by Claire Donato

An Introduction

by Jeff T. Johnson

Wittgenstein said: “No proposition can contain itself as an argument” = The only thing not prerecorded in a prerecorded universe is the prerecording itself which is to say any recording that contains a random factor.

—William S. Burroughs, The Ticket That Exploded


Claire Donato’s Material Studies play with a figurative objectified self caught—and cut up—in a window well, with language. A series of semi-private, quasi-public rituals summon the ego to a digital analog pyre, lit by the female gaze. A pair of hands attend the drama, flickering in edited light, soundtracked to doom metal and distorted pop. Sequence, cause, effect are troubled by their electronic capture and re-presentation. The return of the analog repressed whispers through the data breach that little dada will never come home again. Uncanny camgirl aesthetic splice tampers with the prerecorded universe. “Terrifying, as Robert Creeley was given to say,” as C. D. Wright, Donato’s mentor, said.

Intermedia artist Claire Donato is the author of the novel Burial (winner of the John Hawkes prize, selected by Robert Coover, and later published by Tarpaulin Sky Press), and the poetry collection The Second Body (Poor Claudia). She was co-creator of the digital performance art collective Special America. Material Studies have been screened at MoMA PS1, Knockdown Center, Harvard University, and University Fernando Pessoa.


Material Studies: For Years, I Wrote in Code to Protect Others from My Thinking from Claire Donato on Vimeo.



Claire Donato lives in Brooklyn and is the author of two books: Burial (Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2013), a not-novel, and The Second Body (Poor Claudia, 2016), a collection of poems. Recent writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Territory, DIAGRAM, Bennington ReviewVICEPEN America, and Fanzine. Currently, she is writing a collection of short stories called Kind Mirrors, Ugly Ghosts. She teaches poetics in the Writing Program at Pratt Institute.