All the Things I Lost in the Flood
Essays on Pictures, Language and Code
By Laurie Anderson
One of the most revered, and inventive artists working today, Laurie Anderson is a musician, performance artist, composer, fiction writer, and filmmaker (Her Heart of a Dog, 2015, was lauded as an “experimental marvel” by the Los Angeles Times). Anderson moves seamlessly between the music world and the fine-art world while maintaining a stronghold in both. A true polymath, her interest in new media made her an early pioneer of harnessing technology for artistic purposes long before the tech boom of the early 21st century. Regardless of the medium, however, it is the exploration of language and storytelling that is her true métier. Two years ago Anderson began looking through her archive of nearly forty years of work, which includes scores of documentation, notebooks, and sketchbooks.
In the process, she rediscovered some of her work and looked at many projects with a fresh eye, leading her to write about her own work in a collection of essays looking at the way language entered her visual work.
In this landmark volume, the artist brings together the most comprehensive writing about a collection of her artwork to date, some of which has never before been seen or published. Spanning drawing, multimedia installations, performance, and new projects in virtual reality, the extensive volume traverses four decades of her groundbreaking art, up to, and including her 2017 “Chalk Room” installation at Mass MoCA.
Each of the eight chapters includes thought-provoking commentary written by Anderson in which she explores the influence on language of politics, technology, poetry, and the difference between stories and songs. The personal essays, explore how language relates to images, and raise questions about beauty, time, reality and memory, elucidating these theories by showing ways they are expressed in her work.
As she eloquently observes in the Introduction, “I began as a painter and sculptor and for forty years I have made drawings, music, paintings, installations, film, sculpture, electronic design, software, opera and theater. At the root of all of these works are stories. They are the engines. Stories and words are what I love most. This is a book about the many different strategies I have used to put stories and words into things. Since there are no story museums or museums of narrative art, many of my visual works have been represented as pure visual art instead of the collaborations with words that they actually are. This book is about the development of this process and the catalytic relationships between pictures and stories and about the many codes we use to represent the world.”