VOL. 10
Reconsidering Jack Torrance's All Work and No Play


“Well, something 'll come. It's just a matter of settling back into the habit of writing every day.”
—Wendy Torrance
The Shining, Stanley Kubrick (1980)

Reconsidering Jack Torrance’s All Work and No Play re-examines the perception of the “creative” output of Jack Torrance—a character well known to the public since his portrayal onscreen by Jack Nicholson in Stanley Kubrick’s modern horror drama The Shining (1980).

In the film, Torrance is an author suffering from writer’s block, a difficulty that will be at the origin of a rather unusual work, discovered by his wife Wendy as the film reaches its dramatic climax: her husband has not produced the expected literary text, but instead has compulsively produced “plain text,” by endlessly repeating, on his typewriter, the well-known maxim “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Each page, however, contains graphical variations, which reference virtually all of the visual forms that a text can assume, from a newspaper column to concrete poetry.

This creation, which in the film is interpreted as the sign of an artistic failure and the symptom of a psychological crises, in fact involves—if we consider the achievements of French poet Stéphane Mallarmé and, following from him, certain poets and artists—the production of a remarkable work that occupies an ambivalent position on the border between Conceptual art and a very visual form of experimental writing, effecting a superimposition of multiple modern and modernist paradigms.

Reconsidering Jack Torrance’s All Work and No Play aims to extricate Torrance’s heritage from the context of the film in (re-)producing and presenting it now accordingly to its transdisciplinary nature. The work comprises a completed and bound edition of the manuscript, consisting of more than 300 visually distinctive pages, a series of 18 framed large-scale text-images as well as a studio recording which tends to contextualize Torrance’s “variations” within the tradition of musique concrète.

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"Reconsidering Jack Torrance’s All Work and No Play", 2008. Invitation card, image: "The Shining", Stanley Kubrick, © 1980 Warner Bros.
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"Reconsidering Jack Torrance’s All Work and No Play", 2006-2008. Installation view, Galerie Erna Hécey, Brussels, 2008
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"Reconsidering Jack Torrance’s All Work and No Play", 2006-2008. Installation view, Galerie Erna Hécey, Brussels, 2008
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"Jack Torrance’s All Work and No Play #25, #203, #11, #12, #20", 2006-2008. Pigment ink print on paper, framing, 156 x 123 x 6 cm
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"Jack Torrance’s All Work and No Play", 2006-2008. Book, embossed cloth binding, dust jacket, approx. 600 pages, 28,5 x 23 x 6 cm
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"Jack Torrance’s All Work and No Play", 2006-2008. Title page
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"Jack Torrance’s All Work and No Play", 2006-2008. Excerpt from the book
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"Jack Torrance’s All Work and No Play", 2006-2008. Excerpt from the book
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"Jack Torrance’s All Work and No Play / Variations on a Theme (for Mechanical Typewriter)", 2006-2008. Audio CD, 32:20 min, CD player, amplifier, headphones, pigment ink print on paper, 94 x 78,7 cm
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"Jack Torrance’s All Work and No Play (Catalog of the Book)", 2006-2009. Digital diaporama, 330 images, color, silent, 55 min (loop), vitrine with book and offset printed film still, variable dimensions. Installation view, S.M.A.K. Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst Gent, Ghent 2009
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"Jack Torrance’s All Work and No Play (Catalog of the Book)", 2006-2009. Digital diaporama, 330 images, color, silent, 55 min (loop), vitrine with book and offset printed film still, variable dimensions. Installation view, S.M.A.K. Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst Gent, Ghent 2009
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"Jack Torrance’s All Work and No Play (Catalog of the Book)",
2006-2009. Detail
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"Jack Torrance’s All Work and No Play (Catalog of the Book)",
2006-2009. Detail
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"Jack Torrance’s All Work and No Play (Catalog of the Book)",
2006-2009. Detail
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"Jack Torrance’s All Work and No Play (Catalog of the Book)",
2006-2009. Detail
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"Jack Torrance’s All Work and No Play (Catalog of the Book)",
2006-2009. Detail