Display Wounds

Gregory Whitehead

Writes Gregory Whitehead, "In 1985, while still working on Dead Letters, I became fascinated by the idea of wound reading, and committed myself to the practice of vulnerology, collaborating with Phil Sims on a “wound box” that combined brief caption-texts with his dry point etchings, while also fabricating a series of “wound diddlers” that linked rubber block carvings with surgical tools in a variety of small assemblages; objects that offered a kinetic structure for sustained contemplation of wound contours.

The captions draw from medical text books, plays, cultural theory, art history, hermeneutics and other sources to provide a playful exploration of poetic overtones within the woundscape. A continuous sequence of the wound box caption texts is available at https://gregorywhitehead.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/beyondthepp.pdf.

With the launch of New American Radio, I then elaborated the caption-texts into the continuous monologue of a “vulnerologist” (played by me, with voice slightly slowed down), using the wound diddlers as props for the vulnerologist, as he poked and carved inside the operating theater.

The related idea of a “woundscape” originates in my experience as a passenger in a near fatal car accident (involving a total of eight people, suffering a wide range of serious injuries that created a complex and multilayered woundscape) on a dark road in rural Maine, when I was sixteen. More on the accident, and it’s many dimensions within the woundscape can be found https://gregorywhitehead.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/gwdwpp.pdf". For more information visit https://gregorywhitehead.net/2012/06/07/display-wounds

A fictionalized monologue that addresses the "woundscape" of the human species in the wake of the history of technology through the brooding ruminations of a "vulnerologist"—a wound doctor whose slow and seductive voice unfolds the history of wounds, and the damage that extends even into the future, (mis)shaping the unborn. Punctuated by periodic suggestions from tango music ("Life is but a dry wound. Oh hot-blooded sadness, bleed away from me.") Commissioned by New American Radio.