Lorem Ipsum: Memory and Architecture


The prompt for Weekly Geeks this time is so cool that I just had to join in! Basically, you get some online random word- and sentence-generators to generate three words and a sentence for you, and then use those words and sentence in order to write one of the following:

  • A review of an actual book in your collection, with the title either replaced or not (if you don't think people will recognize it);
  • A review of a fake book, from your imagination;
  • A scene from a real book, with some of the words and one sentence replaced with the randomly-generated ones;
  • OR
  • A scene from a fake book, which you make up from scratch.

Then we all try to guess which reviews/scenes are from real books, and which are made up - and, for extra points, which were the randomly-generated words and sentence. And no fair Googling! It's like this task was custom-made for me; David and I actually have a favorite board game that operates on exactly the same principle. So, here's my contribution; happy guessing! ("Lorem Ipsum" obviously replaces the name of the artist in question, if they are indeed a real person.)

In a long career conducting experiments with the detritus of memory, Lorem Ipsum has developed an intriguing visual language of nostalgia. The compelling power of Ipsum's work comes, for me, from an uneasy tension between the tender and the sinister, the way in which it evokes the magnified, insightful yet skewed quality of childhood perceptions recalled in adulthood.

One of my favorite Ipsum pieces features, like so many do, a large cage, its antique metal links and hinges distressed to a mellow rustiness. The door is open just far enough for a visitor to pass, inviting us to imagine uneasily the creak and clang that would result if it were suddenly shut behind us. The cage closes on a lighted landscape - lighted by candle and floodlight, and evocatively riddled with shadow. Heavy drapery hangs from the top of the cage, creating a kind of labyrinth in which one can only see a short distance ahead. Fragments of ancient-looking tapestry are pinned and patched into the draperies, and other kinds of fragments appear in unexpected places - an old mirror here, a pair of silver scissors in another corner. Ipsum's eye for gritty, suggestive detail is superb. On a pedestal in one draperied alcove, a pair of disembodied marble hands tenderly cradles another, smaller pair, while in the opposite corner a large metal spider advances toward the cage's ceiling. The contrast between the exquisitely smooth sculpting of the hands and the deliberately rough casting and welding on the spider is one more delicious tension among many others. The piece becomes that much more thought-provoking when one learns that, in Ipsum's personal mythology, the spider is not intended as sinister but as the constructive maternal force, the master-weaver whose craft mirrors the one practiced by Ipsum's own mother in their native village.

Of course no art book can do full justice to Ipsum's work - it is, above all, interactive. A depiction on paper, minus the spatial experience of walking through the mazes of antiqued metal, frayed tapestry and distressed wood, is necessarily less. Nevertheless, Lorem Ipsum: Memory and Architecture is beautifully photographed, and gives a good overview of the primary movements in Ipsum's work. Perhaps more important, leafing through it brings back my own memories of experiencing these incredible installations first-hand.


  • I think Lorem Ipsum was the phrase you got from the random generator, and so of course this book doesn't exists. Very clever review though.

  • I sincerely wish you get the writer send me an ARC of this. I would love to read it anytime. After it gets written!

    Weekly Geeks: Reality bites?

    Kill Word Verification

  • I think it's fake. Well done, though. It sounds really interesting, so if it's real, I'd definitely like a read.

    Random words : spider / scissors / labyrinth

  • I'm going to go against the grain and say you've got a real review here, with some fake stuff thrown in. If it's not, I think you are truly clever and this was very well done!

  • I'm going to say it's real because I want it to be - that cage installation sounds amazing. I think detritus is one of the random words, and perhaps riddled and delicious.

  • I think this is a real review. I think the random words are detritus, mellow and delicious. Random sentence? You got me! Nice job.

  • Even though I might be faked out too, I think it's real. While mine was succinct, yours was so verbose that it just begs to be real. :)

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    link to Wolves 2011 reading list
    link to more disgust bibliography