Individual letters have always had a lot of emotion for me for some reason. And for years there have been things that I have not been able to say in poems, so I’ve been doing drawings of landscapes of letters floating in them and people being pursued by letters and all sorts of things happening. And then this happened, which is I basically started to write the way that I draw. – bpNichol
Nichol’s images of landscapes with letters floating in them allows us, using the logic and surface of pictures, to picture language — its structural elements, social conventions and associative rules. It is a spot well worn by Magritte and highlighted in his piece, Treachery of Images.
In Treachery of Images, the text and the image in it are separated by what Michel Foucault describes as “the absence of a space, the effacement of the common place between the signs of writing and the lines of the image”. As such, as W.J.T. Mitchell points out, this space becomes a churn of forces rather than a determinate message or referential sign.
The Music sequence in The Complete Works pictures letters in the landscape and “all sort of things.” The musical composition is created using only Nichol’s voice diving into this churn of forces top to tail.