You Never Did. the Kenosha Kid – Context is Everything

You never did the Kenosha… Kid…

You never did the Kenosha, Kid.

You never did… the Kenosha Kid

You. Never, did the Kenosha, kid!

You? Never did… The… Kenosha Kid?


In Thomas Pynchon’s novel Gravity’s Rainbow exists an interrogation sequence. The main character, Tyrone Slothrop, is injected with sodium amytal (commonly referred to as truth serum) and, in the subsequent pages, begins meditating on a particular set of six words within a telegram:

You never did. The Kenosha Kid

Multiple variations of these words are constructed sequentially, all with different grammar. The author quotes seven before redirecting the narrative, however for many readers this meditation has continued.

Nerdwriter1, divulges this exact point of the novel in his video “How Art Can Transform the Internet”. He points out how this meditation on the construction of these 6 words divulges a postmodernist ideology, that “words can point toward reality, but they can never get there”. Context is everything and the recreation of these words into different sentences shows exactly that. The words cannot hold intrinsic truths because they can be manipulated to express different things depending on their location and context. Nerdwriter1 then introduces the Kenosha Kid twitter account, a twitterbot set to tweet a new construction of the six words every couple of hours. He uses this to divulge his argument surrounding the new world of internet art but my mind was stuck on the Kenosha Kid. This six word manifestation tied itself to my memories of our introduction last week to the Kuleshov effect; the idea that the relationship of images can be just as significant, if not more important than the images themselves.

The concept of the twitterbot intrigued me and so I followed it, turning on notifications so that I would see every new arrangement as it was posted.

Every time it posts I stare at my screen and apply meaning to the words, try to draw from it some sense of a narrative and each time I do it, there is something different. Each time I read the words I am reminded of how meaning is a human process and that we see things as they are in an environment, not as they are on their own. We contextualise everything and so we cannot see words or images as truths as much as suggestions and vessels for the connection of human thought.

I have decided to continue this meditation process, continue attempting to divulge meaning from each consecutive tweet, as it reminds me of the fact that context is everything. That I must not conceive of my work as possessing a single message but as a vessel capable of multiple messages. I should enter the editing process with the awareness that the entire narrative is reliant on my construction process and not some intrinsic meaning born within my raw footage. I must look to use the relationship between my footage to relay my message, lest it be lost in translation.