Objects On My Dresser, Phase 1: Pictorial Linguistics was the foundation for this multi-part project. Rapoport matched each of the 29 objects that she had collected on her dresser with a descriptive word, then matched each of these words with a correlative object. For example, a gestural drawing by Nancy Genn was matched with the word “snakey”[sic], which was then correlated with an image of sea snakes.
These word/image correlations are a central feature of all subsequent phases of Objects On My Dresser. They are a sort of personal matrix, an idiosyncratic system Rapoport used to discover truths about her own psyche.
Pictorial Linguistics represents Rapoport’s first active use of computer programming, which originated from her earlier aesthetic interest in computer printouts. She gathered data about her relationship to the objects, collaborated with a programmer to process the data via a punch-card operated computer at the UC Berkeley Computing Labs, and used a plotter printer to graph the data, often on long scrolls which she would annotate and color.
Pictorial Linguistics was exhibited at Franklin Furnace, New York in 1979. The exhibition announcement reads, “In reevaluating a personal random set by a technological system, the artist discovered laws of her own behavior patterns. The format includes computer forms and plots – ritualistic symbols of our technological age.”