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artist' books vs. book art



on Saturday 14 March 01998 Richard Minsky wrote:

>And if "Artists' Book" is a statement of result, in that it's a book by an artist, I'd rather stake my claim as a "Book Artist", which is a statement of intent: that the Book is my medium of Art<

Richard has said it again. The act of imploding meaning or content into
a book is a large, not a small, act. This is sometimes missed and
bookbinders are the most guilty. Want to put some prints or photos into
a book, some souvenirs of a trip?...no problem! In my view, the book
artist needs to focus exactly on the transition, and be blatant. The
great expositions here are Keith Smith's "Stucture of the Visual Book"
and "Text in Book Format".

To take this a bit further, book art should continue to restate the
advent of the codex in the context of digital communications. The advent
of printing, frequently cited, is an empty metaphor here. That was a
invisible transition...exactly because craftspeople were skilled enough
to make it so. The transition to print did not disturb the reading mode.
The advent of the codex is another thing. As the bibliographer Roger
Chartier puts it: "The only change comparable to what is occurring  now
is perhaps the invention of the codex, which took place in the second or
third century after Christ.  ...In both cases you have a transformation
of the structure of the support of the text and a transformation of the
gesture, technologies, categories required by this structure, given to
the text in the reader’s mind.”

This is a real handle. Every item of book art should reveal this large
act of reinvention of the reading mode itself. In my view this is why
the sewn board model of the earliest codex is such a potent medium for
book art. In the Western sense this "out of Africa" model has nothing to
do with bookbinding and everything to do with invention. This book
structure is a parable for a new reading mode. The Dry Frio Bindery
workshop trilogy of the Millennial Transfer Tape, Utopian Ethiopian and
Post-Digital Sewn Boards bindings goes off in this direction, far...far.

I am very attracted to this list and to all the great traffic. I have
not posted since 1994 so I introduce myself as a library conservator and
fan of the future of the traditional book. I would add to the attribute
list for Jack Thompson...he is a great listener. Many times he has gone
cross-country through my ideas with great endurance and insight.

Gary Frost
www.booklab.com


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