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Bookness



Peter-- That was a great response you wrote about book arts on the net, and
thank you for passing on Philip Smith's comments. Here are a few
observations.

1. First, I'll set the record straight on the attribution of the term
"bookness." As anybody who was around this field in the early 1970's will
remember,  I was using the term "bookness"  in 1974, when describing the
criteria I used in curating exhibits at the Center for Book Arts, after
being challenged for including the work of Barton Lidice Benes ("Censored
Book" tied up in rope, gessoed and painted) and Stella Waitzkin (cast resin
books).

I also used the term in my lectures at schools and art centers in this
country, as well as in the book arts classes I taught in 1976-77 at the
School of Visual Arts.  I also used it every time I gave a lecture in
England in 1978-79 (at Camberwell, at the London College of Printing, the
Byam Shaw School of Arts, Brighton Polytechnic, etc.) when I was there for
nine months as the first book artist (and bookbinder) to represent the USA
in an international cultural exchange (I was the US/UK Bicentennial Fellow
in Visual Arts, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, the
International Communications Agency of the State Dept., and The British
Council).

Perhaps Philip will recall my using the term at his house when I was there
for tea (when he was still living in Redhill, Surrey).

I thus find it peculiar that he goes to such great lengths to claim the
attribution of this little adjective through his publication references
(all of which are 1979 or later). I would also be surprised if I were the
first to add the suffix "-ness", indicating "having the quality of," to the
word "book." It's sort of an ordinary thing to do.

2. Ulises Carrion, in "The New Art of Making Books," which has been
reprinted by several editors (I sent copies of it to all members of the
Center for Book Arts in 1975 or 76), established the position that "a text
is not a book." and "a book is a sequence of spaces." I do hope someone
will get around to typing it into their computer and posting it. It is the
premier manifesto of Book Art. Much of what Philip says comes from this
essay. It may be reproduced in Joan Lyons' book, but I can't find my copy.
There were many writers on this subject in the 70's. Let's not forget Lucy
Lippard.

3. Is sloppy thinking better or worse than plagiarism?

4. Book Art is not "a book." It's Book Art. When I say something has
bookness, it's because the object evokes a feeling in me of and/or about
books. That's how I used the term 22 years ago, and that's still how I use
it. If Philip wants to use the term to mean something else, that's ok.

--
Richard
http://www.minsky.com


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