A re-iteration of the German text carried out with the Newcastle/Berlin based artist Jorn Ebner.

Reading human material is one of a series of durational works by Monica Ross, which translate the 'Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction', by Walter Benjamin, into digital media through physical processes of handwriting and speech, placing an emphasis on the work of art as process rather than object.

Physical work in real time, transcription traces a relationship between the actual and virtual as a bodily process becomes formatted into the rapid economy of the computer. transcription is predicated on the physical body as both the home of thought and the agent of its materialisation by whatever technical means.

Given that sensory experience exceeds the legibility of infomatic systems, this form of inscription is an attempt to reproduce illegibility as a form of intrigue rather than information. Transcribing the essay in the outmoded appearance of ‘handwriting’ registers the actuality of being and the ritual of repetition as a means of reproduction. Doing so renders the original almost indecipherable, as does distributing it as fragments, captioned in windows, over time. These captioned fragments attempt to operate as signposts towards the unexpected, rather than expected, connections between events and information in contemporary experience.

Read 'Standing Up', a response to reading human material by Susan Diab

Performed during Pilot

Monica Ross produces drawings, performances, video and text works. They arise from durational processes, sequential acts or events and explore experience in the present and its cultural transition–or not–into memory and history.  Her works have been presented in many exhibitions and contexts since the 1970s, when feminism and other movements for social, cultural and political change were formative in shaping her experimental and often collaborative art practice.

In December 2008, to mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Ross performed the first of 60 recitations in her ongoing work Anniversary—an act of memory: solo, collective and multi-lingual recitations from memory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the British Library, London. Shortly before the interview the series reached Act 40 with 27 local Co-Recitors who memorised and spoke Articles in 16 languages at Arnolfini, Bristol.


Ross has published critical essays and text works such as her artist’s book valentine. She was Guest Professor at Institut für Kunst in Kontext, Universität der Künste, Berlin 2004, an AHRB Research Fellow in Fine Art at the University of Newcastle 2001-2004, and led the innovative Critical Fine Art Practice course at Central Saint Martins, London 1990-1998.