Diagram of A Silent Garden
All white 3D render of an alarm clock
All white 3D render of an alarm clock
All white 3D render of an alarm clock
All white 3D render of an alarm clock
All white 3D render of an air plane
All white 3D render of an air plane
All white 3D render of an air plane
All white 3D render of an ATM
All white 3D render of an ATM
All white 3D render of an ATM
All white 3D render of an ATM
All white 3D render of high heels
All white 3D render of high heels
All white 3D render of high heels
All white 3D render of a mailbox
All white 3D render of a mailbox
All white 3D render of a mailbox
All white 3D render of a piggy bank
All white 3D render of a piggy bank
All white 3D render of a piggy bank
All white 3D render of a traffic light
All white 3D render of a traffic light
All white 3D render of a traffic light
All white 3D render of a traffic light

Diagram of a Silent Garden is an open call for a group show, using the title for a prompt and general invitation. Intended to reflect a range of practice in flux with Covid-19, we hoped to create a space to reconsider making work in our new condition. Initiated to be printed matter, not for sale, and distributed solely to the contributors, as our participant pool expanded the project naturally shifted into online form. We are proud to publish these pieces and thankful to those who took the time. This site has become a wide index of these practices, and in an ever-growing nature will continue to be open to new submissions, with the spirit of open discussion.

Core Team: Brian Sing, Jared Fellows; 3D Identity with Ted Youjong Kim; type design & web development by Jake Brussel Faria.

Marc Shkurovich

Marc Shkurovich

This is an ex­er­cise in draw­ing you back to your body be­fore you slip into your screen. We start by step­ping be­yond both. You are an at­ten­tive ob­server, ob­serv­ing your pat­terns of at­ten­tion. Note sym­me­tries usu­ally hid­den: par­al­lelism, in the an­gle shared by crook of neck and cant of screen; per­pen­dic­u­lar­ity, in the T cre­ated by line of sight on plane of screen. Simplicity be­lies com­plex­ity: you, con­vex; screen, sheer, rec­ti­lin­ear with hard lines but round edges; study the shapes, tod­dlers do. Windows within win­dows within win­dows, open­ing right, clos­ing left. Within these fixed con­tours is so much of your ex­pe­ri­ence, col­lapsed, cap­tured, con­tained.

But vi­sion is in­suf­fi­cient, de­ceit­ful even, ex­actly that which locks us in it. Turn to touch to bust your way out. A screen prof­fers in­fin­ity, all phe­nom­ena dis­played, re­layed through uni­fied tac­til­ity. The tem­per­a­ture: icy, ever cooler than your skin. The tex­ture: in­ert, glasslike metal and metal­lic glass, fric­tion­less yet re­lent­lessly re­sis­tant. Summon the sen­sa­tion of por­tals with pur­chase with­held. The pads of your fin­gers press­ing, swip­ing, down, again, up, again. What you feel is your own flesh yield­ing. Now power down. Backlight black, bask in your traces: glo­ri­ous smears, gal­lant smudges. Meld in the dark with your ev­i­dence, just you re­leased and re­flected.

Our bod­ies con­tinue to chron­i­cle their own crav­ings. Pain, both real and imag­ined. Phantom spasms flicker through fe­murs. Rogue rings tickle in­ner ears: tu­mults of tin­ni­tus brought by the tran­sient trill. Better bury the burn be­hind your eye­balls, then. Some stings are self-ev­i­dent, the price paid for a sev­enth sense: a cer­tain sen­tience, iPro­pri­o­cep­tion. If lo­ca­tion is rel­a­tive, so must si­lence and soli­tude be. Do you also wake up with screens be­neath your pil­lows? Is it your limbs that ar­tic­u­late your first needs, in­au­gu­rat­ing morn­ing with un­des­ig­nated au­ro­ral mi­gra­tions? They ful­fill your will un­til stiff­ness set­tles in. No tooth fairy ever sooth­said with such pre­ci­sion. If al­go­rithms owe penance it’s for rup­tur­ing cir­ca­dian rhythms, for chis­el­ing deeper into the crevasse of every in­ner schism. Nature verse nur­ture, sub­li­mated into sub­tle tor­ture.

And the mat­ter of the heart. Where it most hurts. Screens, the pri­mary source of ressen­ti­ment. Don’t mis­place fury: you were felled, fi­nally, by our com­mon frailty. So long as synapses fire de­sign will work as well as dopamine; it is de­sire that dis­ap­points. The spirit wres­tles for con­trol: it loses: self­hood cur­dles. Now comes im­pas­sioned dis­sec­tion: find the bits of sor­row to keep safe while you sift for de­spair. Hope must not fold un­der the bur­den of proof. In truth it is the beauty of ba­nal­ity that I promise you.

One day, the fi­nal screen will have slipped back un­der the sea. Its slick so­lid­ity will have weighed down one last sup­ple palm, its heavy heft will have lain along one last line of long fin­gers. We will have known the cost, ac­cepted li­a­bil­ity for the re­main­ing bal­ance. The legacy of use will be in­dis­tin­guish­able from the lin­eage of abuse, the residue of an­guish. There will be a splash not un­like the old com­mer­cials for liq­uid crys­tals. The first tasks will have been to flex the mus­cles of your mind in or­der to move mean­ing to your body.

Language is fu­tile if we let it float by dis­em­bod­ied. This printed page is do­ing bat­tle; these sen­tences and sibi­lants are sep­a­rately giv­ing chase. When the chords of our cores thrum to­gether in vivid vi­bra­tion, when we mark the mu­tual em­a­na­tion, then—then and only then—will we have sounded out sol­i­dar­ity.


Marc Shkurovich writes at the in­ter­sec­tion of con­tem­po­rary lit­er­a­ture, so­cial tech­nolo­gies, and be­ing 22. He writes the newslet­ter Sintext and works as a tu­tor and book­seller in Los Angeles.