Janus Goes Off Paper

Like Janus, the god of beginnings and transitions, we look back over the first half-year of Off Paper and look forward to what might come…

Off Paper was conceived to be a literary counterpart to what happens in the physical space of The Project Room—a way to engage The Big Question for people removed from Capitol Hill in Seattle. The first few months have allowed us to refine what that might mean, quite organically, and to think about what we want to accomplish going forward.

My own piece—in which I crosscut between Mandy Greer’s Solstenen project at The Project Room, A.S. Byatt’s story A Stone Woman, reflections on my history as a scholar, adaptation theory, and an interview with Mandy—served as a kind of test run for an approach I hoped we could take in Off Paper:  foster writing that could occupy the space between straight criticism, straight scholarship, straight blog, straight anything. I wanted us to find an interstitial space that would defy conclusion and certitude, thus mirroring the mission of The Project Room. The writing that has followed has been quite diverse: different from mine, different from each other.

What holds across contributions, though, is this: every piece takes up subjective space. It is someone’s personal response to something that has happened in The Project Room or in Seattle, or responds to The Big Question, or ponders the evolution of this experiment unfolding on Pine Street. It is as transparent as possible, opens up rather than resolves questions, and is comfortable with being “always in the process of becoming” (pardon my invoking German Romanticism). From Amanda Manitach’s interpretive response to a group discussion among Seattle artists who interview other artists to Sharon Arnold’s personal tangle with the role of process in artmaking to Dan Webb’s exhortation that The Project Room not become just another art gallery, writers have entered an unfolding conversation.

So what might readers expect going forward, now that we’re ready to take off our training wheels? First, some “staff” changes (I put this in quotes, since we’re all volunteers): Brangien Davis joins us as Editorial Consultant aka Content Scout; Jane Wong joins us as Editorial Assistant aka Content Wrangler. The holidays are over, we have dug out from the snow (I love making us sound like pioneers on the frozen prairie), and we are excited to yoke up next to the newest project in the space, Beginnings.

Emmett V. Smith will follow up on his fall appearance in The Project Room with a reflection on his role as a curator in a maritime museum. Jentery Sayers will tell us about Digital Humanities: a movement firing up academe in which traditional humanities and arts scholarship evolves into “maker” culture.  And that’s just the, well, beginning of Beginnings—more of which will emerge from the events in The Project Room.

Finally, we hope to hear more from YOU: as contributors outright, or as commenters on pieces by others. Have an idea? Do send it to editor@projectroomseattle.org. We’d love to hear from you.

*”Going off paper” is a slang idiom that means to go off probation, off parole.