Stephen Bliss Brings It All Together for TEDx Bermuda
You see palimpsests every day, but we bet you didn’t even know it. Plastered on the side of a wall, scribbled in the margins of your notes, the shattered narrative built between static while flipping through channels on the television. Stephen Bill calls a palimpsest “a multi-layered record,” and has become at least a little bit obsessed with them. He recently took the stage at TEDx Bermuda to deliver a talk about the form in “The Power of the Palimpsest.” The 18-minute talk was originally delivered exclusively for attendees of the summit but is now available to anyone with an internet connection.
Stephen became enamored with palimpsests while wandering around New York City. He sojourned all over New York from Brooklyn to the Bronx and back again, following crumbling and peeling posters pasted one on top of the other, sun baked, water soaked, and sanded down to deeper layers. These contemporary artifacts typically fade into the background for the rest of New York, but Stephen saw in front of him evidence of culture, the values of a population, and serendipitous messages that were more often than not constructed completely by mistake.
Adjacent ads revealed by the peeling of time become profound juxtapositions. A rip becomes a brushstroke. Half of a sentence becomes a whole message. There’s power in detritus, especially when time is a creative collaborator.
In his own way, Stephen brought the power of the palimpsest to his own work using them as inspiration for his own process and medium, wherein he removes a series of (out of season) posters from the walls of the subway, glues them together, sprays them with silver, and then uses them as a canvas to create original illustrations in black ink over the top. It’s a direct response to what he’s witnessed around him while engaging in the conversation to express what he needs to as an artist.
For a deeper primer on what a palimpsest is and what to do when you see them, check out Stephen Bliss’ talk with TEDx Bermuda “The Power of the Palimpsest.”