Last week, the Southerly content team downed tools for a couple of hours to visit The Southbank Centre in London for a little bit of word-based inspiration.
An exhibition by British artist Tom Phillips, Illuminated Tweets, has been showing for the last few weeks in the Centre’s Saison Poetry Library and ends on 26 October. It’s a fascinating study in how, from a single idea, an artist has created something beautiful and thought provoking, and continues to evolve it over time.
In 1966, Phillips embarked on a project called The Humument that would span the next four decades of his career. It is the result of a task he set himself to see whether he could take a second-hand novel and, through painting, collage and cut-up techniques, turn it into an entirely different book.
His starting point was an obscure 1892 title called A Human Document by W H Mallock, and Phillips’ reinterpretation was first published in 1973. In the coming decades, he published four more revised print versions of The Humument. Illumimated Tweets shows the book’s recent incarnations across a variety of digital platforms, including an app, a USB card, tweets and digital recordings.
Engaging as an artform
Thinking about audiences and how best to reach them is a massive part of our job as a content team. Words on a page is our starting point but the way we distribute them or amplify content on behalf of our clients can change depending on the personas we are targeting.
Talking about art and marketing in the same breath is going to seem like blasphemy to some, but thinking about Phillips’ work has inspired me to consider how we can continue to innovate when repurposing work for clients. A content marketing strategy doesn’t always have to mean starting from scratch and creating an entire new tranche of content. A thorough audit of what a client already has can usually unearth some valuable content that can be updated and given new life.
The exhibition served as a starting point for some great conversation between us as a team. But these days something of true value also has the power to spark engagement further – I wanted to spread the word about Illuminated Tweets, so I reached out to my own Twitter followers when I got home. If you can prompt that sort of response with your content then you’re well on the way to a successful content marketing strategy.
I don’t know what inspired Tom Phillips to embrace new digital platforms but it was exciting to see how the work has been given another dimension through the use of Twitter and the rest… and perhaps introduced it to an entirely new audience in the process.