Lamenta Scriptum

Written in


I posted a slideshow of some of my art, a flash talk I never did for work on the site a while back. In that flash talk, I had a slide for this project explored below. A group art installation that Liz Szabo, Lisa Cross, LuDel Walter, and I collaborated on, sponsored by Dale Mueller Smith at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center in 2016, into 2017.

And for some time, I think I’ve wanted to expand on the Lamenta Scriptum idea, which was already an expansion or spin off in some sense of Sitting Shiva. I’ll have to circle back to that someday too.

Below is a post I wrote around the time we did the Lamenta Scriptum project. I can’t remember if I actually published the post, for my long since gone Squarespace site I had named unconfinedundefined (I’ll have to circle back to that to talk about it more at some point too). (Plus, nice plug for sites and your content living on, in a free site, even after a plan expires – at least that’s the policy as of the writing of this post).

Here’s the post, that I’m not sure I ever published, but I had saved, tucked away in a Google drive somewhere. Unedited from the time of writing.


Winter Lights Tree – Lamenta Scriptum

The Fine Arts Center used to do an annual holiday festival called the Gallery of Trees. It’s been 14 years since they did anything even reminiscent of this event. But at the end of 2016, they brought it back. Changed the name to Holiday Lights, in an effort to be inclusive.

The original plan was to use birch like trees and have artists submit proposals to decorate them. These trees that were planned, it was discovered that the limbs were very flimsy and this was going to be a problem.

I was planning a tree with a group of artist friends at this time, we had half heartedly joked about doing a tree, but never followed through. But, Lisa sat on the committee for the FAC and we ended up doing one because there was a need. The main bulk of the trees used by artists changed to the traditional fir tree shape, but we were allowed to use the original birch as that was what our theme and idea was based on.

So we ran with the flimsy limb idea and thought weeping willow. A long time ago the four of us had done an installation called Sitting Shiva, where we sat, tore books, and mourned the loss of a dear friend. At that time, it felt like paper books were on the decline and we wanted to make a statement about their disappearance.

With this tree, pulling the idea of torn book pages, we created our tree, Lamenta Scriptum, in the same vein as our previous installation. With strings of torn pages (much like the popcorn or cranberry strings that are often made around the holidays) and using the Latin name to insinuate mourning and books.

The tree has thus come down, but I’ve kept the strings of pages and hope to do something more long term with them, perhaps a room divider or mobile someday.

After coming across that post and adding a post with a slide about it, I wanted to track down a few other pictures and explore a bit more. Here are a few pics of the Lamenta Scriptum project, parts of the process of tearing all the books up, and stringing the pages. Just always liked the look of the torn book pages, so I’m fond of the close up details. And it was so meditative. I want to tear pages again.

After thinking on this a bit, and with my recent explorations with ChatGPT-4. I wanted to use this modern tool to explore this old project of mine.

So I asked ChatGPT-4 what it thought the project name could mean.

Anna: What could Lamenta Scriptum mean?

ChatGPT-4: “Lamenta Scriptum” is a Latin phrase. Individually, the words can be translated as follows:

“Lamenta”: This word is the plural form of “lamentum,” which means “lamentation” or “complaint.”

Already, I’m a bit skeptical because I wouldn’t say a lamentation is a complaint by my definition, but maybe.


ChatGPT-4: “Scriptum”: This word is the neuter form of “scriptus,” which means “written” or “writing.”

Together, the phrase “Lamenta Scriptum” can be translated as “written lamentations” or “written complaints.” The phrase could refer to a collection of written sorrowful expressions or grievances, perhaps in the context of literature or personal writings.

Well now, I as I go back and reread (as of April 15, 4:47am editing), that’s given me an idea for a new website. Like I need another.

Let’s go on, because it doesn’t have a visual, I’ll explain it.

Anna: If the phrase was applied towards an art project of a weeping tree, with torn pages of books as the leaves on the branches. What could that symbolize?

Understand I’m still exploring ChatGPT in this process too. I have no idea what sort of outputs I’m going to get, I’m just experimenting.

ChatGPT-4: If the phrase “Lamenta Scriptum” were applied to an art project featuring a weeping tree with torn pages of books as leaves on the branches, the symbolism could be interpreted in several ways:

The loss of knowledge or wisdom: The weeping tree could symbolize the sadness or mourning associated with the loss of knowledge or wisdom, as the torn pages represent damaged or destroyed books.

The power of written emotions: The combination of the weeping tree and torn pages could represent the powerful and cathartic expression of emotions, sorrow, or grief through writing.

Fragility of human emotions and knowledge: The torn pages and weeping tree could symbolize the fragility and vulnerability of human emotions and knowledge, as they can be easily damaged or lost.

The transformative nature of writing: The tree, a symbol of growth and life, combined with the torn pages could represent how writing about one’s lamentations can lead to personal growth and healing.

The impact of time on literature: The weeping tree with torn pages as leaves might symbolize the passing of time and its effect on literature and human emotions, as older works can be forgotten or damaged over time.

Overall, the interpretation of the symbolism would depend on the context and intent of the artist, as well as the viewer’s personal experiences and perspectives.


I”ve been liking some of the education ideas coming out of ChatGPT, so I asked for a study question.

Anna: What would be a good group discussion question for high schoolers studying a tree like that in a museum?

ChatGPT-4: A good group discussion question for high school students studying the weeping tree art piece with torn pages as leaves in a museum could be:

“How does the weeping tree with torn pages as leaves represent the relationship between emotions, knowledge, and the passage of time, and how do these concepts relate to your personal experiences?”

This question encourages students to think critically about the symbolism in the art piece, engage in thoughtful discussion, and share their insights on the connections between emotions, knowledge, and time. Additionally, it prompts them to reflect on their own experiences, fostering deeper understanding and personal connections to the artwork.

I suddenly want to have a way for high schoolers to interact with an art exhibit and explore with a ChatGPT like program simultaneously. I want to know what questions they might ask.

Last question to ChatGPT-4 (or so I thought at the time) after I went back and experimented with another idea and tracked down my older post from unconfinedundefined, I explored a bit deeper.

Anna: Invent a new word for me that conveys the same idea as lamenta scriptum, but in a single new word.

ChatGPT-4: The new word to convey the idea of “Lamenta Scriptum” could be “Scribelament.”

“Scribelament” is a portmanteau of “scribe,” which means “write,” and “lament,” which means “a passionate expression of grief or sorrow.” This new word encapsulates the concept of written lamentations in a single term.

I’m not sure it’s as good as we can get, yet. Not even sure I like that word all that much. Let’s try again.

Anna: I think you can do better, how about something a bit more original?

ChatGPT-4: Certainly, let’s try another original word: “Grievigraphy.”

“Grievigraphy” combines “grievi-“, derived from “grief,” and “-graphy,” a suffix that often denotes a form of writing or representation. This new word conveys the idea of expressing sorrow or lamentation through writing in an original and unique way.

Meh. I wasn’t feeling it still, so..

Anna: Not bad, let’s do one more, can you make it slightly funny or snide? Still invent a new word to convey the idea.

ChatGPT-4: Of course! Here’s a slightly funny and snide new word: “Sorrowdoodle.”

“Sorrowdoodle” combines “sorrow,” which means a feeling of deep distress caused by loss or disappointment, and “doodle,” which refers to a simple or aimless drawing. This word humorously suggests the idea of casually jotting down one’s lamentations, as if they were merely scribbles or doodles.

Too cute feeling for me. I want something deeper. Sitting Shiva and Lamenta Scriptum were rather emotional projects for me. From the creation to the intention behind the words. I wanted something more… profound.

Anna: I don’t like that one so much, another with the feeling of the original lamenta scriptum, but slightly profoundly funny.

ChatGPT-4: Understood! Here’s another attempt at a profoundly funny new word: “Lamentababble.”

“Lamentababble” combines “lamenta,” which is derived from “lamentation” or “complaint,” and “babble,” which refers to talking rapidly and continuously in a foolish or excited way. This word playfully suggests the idea of expressing sorrow or lamentation through writing, while also humorously implying that the outpouring of emotions might become a stream of somewhat nonsensical or excessive chatter.

Cute still, but I don’t like the babble. Even if I do it sometimes. I make a joke even.

Anna: That might be what we are doing here. I’ll give you one more shot. Inspire me. Just give the word. If it’s inspiring enough, I’ll ask a follow up question.

ChatGPT-4: Mourniquill.

Son of a… fucking got me. I have to ask.

Anna: Okay, got me, explain the origin or what it’s derived from, please.

ChatGPT-4: I’m glad you found “Mourniquill” inspiring! The word “Mourniquill” is a portmanteau that combines two elements:

“Mourn”: This word signifies the expression of deep sorrow or grief, typically caused by loss or disappointment. It captures the emotional aspect of lamentation.

“Quill”: A quill refers to a writing instrument made from a large feather, which was used to write with ink before the invention of modern pens. The quill symbolizes the act of writing or recording thoughts.

By merging these two elements, “Mourniquill” conveys the idea of expressing sorrow or grief through writing, in a manner that is both imaginative and evocative of a bygone era when quills were a common writing tool.

This just tied into an art project I had on Saturday morning at 4am-ish. What is something people would collect now that is a extrapolation of something older. I’ve been collecting lanterns, but will someday people collect clip lights? I’ll have to circle back to that later. I digress while editing. Back to this idea of Mournquill (I think I like it better without the i between mourn and quill).

I was a bit stuck on the tree idea when exploring, so I asked for some ideas.

Anna: What tree would represent a Mourniquill well in a similar art project?

For an art project representing the concept of “Mourniquill,” a weeping willow tree would be an excellent choice. The weeping willow (Salix babylonica) is a tree with long, gracefully drooping branches that create a sweeping, curtain-like appearance. The tree’s unique form gives it a melancholic and introspective appearance, making it a fitting symbol for the expression of grief and sorrow through writing.

In the art project, you could incorporate elements such as ink-dipped quills or pages with heartfelt writing hanging from the branches, further emphasizing the connection between the weeping willow and the concept of “Mourniquill.”

Maybe I’m getting close to another art project idea here, but I’ve already done a willow tree. So I’ll have to think.

Anna: Well, I’ve already done a weeping willow with Lamenta Scriptum. Another project I did was called Sitting Shiva, where we mourned the loss of books, tearing them as we read sitting in a circle in a room surrounded by books and torn pages. A sort of performance art installation.

Along those veins, what would be a good art installation, using books, and torn pages, to represent the idea of Mourniquill?

ChatGPT-4: For an art installation representing the idea of “Mourniquill” and incorporating books and torn pages, consider creating a “Mourniquill Library.”

Boom. And just like that, when I came back to edit this post, I didn’t think of it at the time, but I’ve been looking at art projects for the old abandoned Battle Ground library. Another idea being a “Long Time Locals” show, which could get folks engaged with the art, the space, and, hopefully wouldn’t offend anyone too much.

But now. As of Saturday morning April 15th. I want to make Battle Ground Library, the MournQuill Library. Setup exhibits (I remember there being a fair amount of space, not sure about wall partitions, for a few ideas. Like a tree, a sitting room, a large sculpture maybe of the lost quill. The lost art of writing.

But. I digress, yet again.

Let’s finish up this exploration with ChatGPT-4.

ChatGPT-4: The installation could be set up as follows:

Central sculpture: Construct a central sculpture representing a tree, but instead of using a specific type of tree, create a more abstract and whimsical version with twisting and interlocking branches. The branches could be made from old book spines, rolled pages, or even painted driftwood to create a unique and thought-provoking centerpiece.

Quills and ink: Scatter quills and inkwells throughout the installation space, allowing visitors to interact by writing their own thoughts, feelings, or lamentations on the torn pages. Encourage them to attach their written expressions to the tree’s branches, creating a constantly evolving artwork.

Illumination: Use soft, warm lighting to create an intimate and solemn atmosphere. Consider using candles, fairy lights, or lanterns, placed strategically around the installation, to cast shadows and create a sense of depth and mystery.

Surrounding setup: Arrange piles of books and torn pages around the central tree sculpture to emphasize the theme of mourning the loss of knowledge and wisdom. Create reading nooks or comfortable seating areas with cushions and rugs, inviting visitors to sit, read, and reflect on the emotions evoked by the installation.

Soundscapes: Incorporate subtle, ambient sounds, such as rustling paper, whispers, or soft, melancholic music, to heighten the emotional impact of the installation and create a multisensory experience.

Interactive component: Encourage visitors to take part in the installation by inviting them to bring their own books or written works to contribute to the “Mourniquill Library.” This allows for a communal mourning and healing process, as well as the opportunity for personal growth and catharsis.

By combining these elements, the “Mourniquill Library” installation would create a powerful and immersive experience, inviting visitors to engage with the concept of expressing and healing through grief and sorrow using the written word.

I could see it, I feel like there are similar themes I’ve see there in other art installations, but hey… great artists steal right? I linked to a book I remember being about that, I have a copy somewhere. But isn’t there also some debate about Picasso saying something like that? Meh.

Anyway. Could be a fun new project. I could see it as a virtual exploratory world as ai generated worlds evolve.

In fact I could see a whole chain of virtual worlds I’d like to design for people to explore. Like somehow, extreme, immersive… Minecraft? I’m not sure yet. But I’m sure we’ll all be exploring new worlds together.

That was my first idea, as I went through this with ChatGPT-4, a virtual world with a virtual intelligence.

But I see it at Battle Ground Library now too.

Turned the MournQuill Library.

A sculpture of a tree, a quill, a sitting room. Art, but immersive. And dirty and messy. Because that’s me. That’s us. That’s entropy. Shit wears out. But humans make new.

Let’s make a new library.

One response to “Lamenta Scriptum”

  1. […] This idea originated in a thread where I was exploring Lamenta Scriptum (an old art project of mine) and how it could have been used to educate kids or been more thought provoking. If you want to see that old convo, it’s at the end of this other post about Lamenta Scriptum. […]

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