Lesson: Double Album: Sentence as Thought

  • "Untitled (Then I Became a Monster)," 2005."Untitled (Then I Became a Monster)," 2005.


Written by New York artist, Lan Tuazon.
In this lesson students will understand the cut-up technique and read writing samples from Surrealist Tristan Tzara. This three-part lesson plan will culminate in a drawing project that presents an intelligent reflection of their cultural references using their collection/archive as source material.


Students will create writing samples and drawings based on their own collection or archive.


Cut-up technique is a writing technique invented by 1920’s Surrealist Tristan Tzara.
Take a newspaper
Take some scissors.
Choose an article of the length
You wish your poem to have.
Cut out the article.
Then cut carefully each of the words in
The article and put them in the bag.
Shake gently.
Then pull out each cutting one after the other.
Copy them down conscientiously
in the order in which they let the bag.
The poem will resemble you.
And you will be a writer of infinite originality and of
Charming sensitivity, although incomprehensible to the
Masses. Tristan Tzara


Transfer paper
Watercolor paper
Newspaper headlines
Student homework of collections/archive

Lesson Strategy

Guzman describes drawing as a form of copying, of placing things to construct a sentence. In his own words: “I am not always talking about my background in my work… It’s more complicated: it has to do with a way of perceiving things and the world I live in.” How we choose to organize, and put together our experiences as they cross over into the everyday culture that surrounds us can be just what Daniel Guzmán called the “complicated way of viewing the world.”

Look at Untitled (Then I Became a Monster), 2005. Chinese ink on paper, 18 ½” x 22 5/8”.

  • What references do you see him using?
  • What ideas does putting those things together create?
  • Guzman uses what is called the cut-up technique as a way of creating a “sentence” or composition.

The cut-up technique is a writing method similar to visual art’s technique of collage, putting parts together to make a whole. Present the cut up technique by using newspaper headlines to demonstrate the process to students. Here we see the element of chance, not having a preconceived idea of a final product in mind. Notice the way Tristan Tzara writes, “the poem will resemble you.”

Drawing assignment
Students will create a drawing composition that presents an intelligent reflection of culture and their references using text and images.

Start with student intention: Students will analyze their own collection/archive and write a meaningful phrase that can function as a caption, observation, opinion, or reflection of their collection. Encourage students to use a variety of objects, images, and words.

Use the element of chance: Students can begin using newspaper headlines to create a meaningful phrase using the cut-up technique and complete the work by illustrating the text with found images.

Use Found Material: Students have the option of choosing one phrase from Bob Perelman’s poem, China, and/or a quote/lyric from songs.

Present Materials
Saral paper is a type of carbon paper (invented in 1806, designed to help the blind write with a metal stylus) coated on one side with ink or pigment on wax paper. This material is pressure sensitive, which can transfer ink from one paper to another; this is what is called a carbon copy.

Demonstrate materials and process

Exhibit and discuss student work

  • Choose three students that have chosen three different methods of working and have them describe and analyze their process.
  • Ask the students to choose one artwork to discuss.


Evaluate student’s verbal literacy and their participation in the discussions.
Evaluate student’s ability to understand the different process presented in class and their ability to complete the work.

Extending the Lesson

Discuss materials further to connect to the history of printing.
Graphic Design: Look at Raw Power, 2004. Styrofoam and cardboard box. 19 ¾” x 15” x 15” and Untitled (Then I Became a Monster), 2005. Chinese ink on paper, 18 ½” x 22 5/8”.
Study expressive lettering and have students create their own expressive fonts.