SYSTEMS is a collection of work created by Robert R Thurman, aka Tray Drumhann, previously published in a limited print edition. Eighty black & white images comprised of line, shape and deliberate typography; best described as concrete poetry, conceptual literature, or typographic abstractions. Each work has a specific title but is also known generically as SYSTEMS, both individually and collectively.
SYSTEMS has generated many questions and suggestions on the interpretation of these works by people from a broad range of backgrounds. Some have tried to decipher how the systems work, treating them as code. Others seek insight as to how to view the work other than being appreciated as simply a visual particle. Still others suggest they are exposures, extensions or portals. All of these interpretations are possible.
“Viewing the work do you try to figure it out as though it has some final solution, imagine different outcomes, or ask why not words? Do you keep on investigating the work after not getting a satisfactory answer? These are systems, but systems of what? If we look at them in a different way, and instead of trying to decipher them we try to use them, I think it might yield a better understanding of the work itself.” – Robert R. Thurman
"May I recommend Robert R. Thurman's SYSTEMS, a handsome book that I consider the most successful advance in CONCRETE POETRY as such--the materials of language handled concretely--that I've seen in many years." -- Richard Kostelanetz
"William Carlos Williams once described the poem as "a little machine made of words." In Systems we have little machines that are poems without recourse to the word: assemblages of geometric forms, numerals and letters that suggest irresolvable combinations and purposeful relations without adding up to any lexemes as neat as their compositional precision intimates and invites. If steampunk looks back to the industrial mise-en-scène of the nineteenth century to advance a future vision, these works look back to the tinkering, pin-ball, toy-robot contraptions of the electric twentieth century to reanimate the Futurist visions of artists like Fortunato Depero and Vasily Kamensky. With their exact and accurate schematics, Thurman's precision-engineered poetic gadgets seem always on the verge of a hypnotizing flywheel animation; they are only locked in place until the reader engages them, disengaging the safety of composition with the recklessness we call reading." -- Craig Dworkin
SYSTEMS is archived in the Avant Writing Collection at The Ohio State University Libraries.