[Table of Contents] [Search]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[BKARTS] Meador article

I also read Meador's article on jab-online and since Richard Minsky has opened the forum up here I thought I would add a few comments. . .

I agree with the basic premise of Clifton Meador's article, however I have a slightly different way of looking at some of the concepts presented therein. I get the sense that Meador would like to distance craft and traditional fine press work from the field of artist's books (or the field of book art as Minsky states). I would prefer to see the complexity and multi-faceted nature of the field of artists' books embraced and defined, instead of cutting off and distancing ourselves from the parts that are not as accepted by the larger art community. Most art has a craft aspect to it (as well as a history, a precedence) and in any medium it is distracting when things are not constructed well. Craft is part of the discourse. I am not a traditionalist, however I had a big problem getting around statements like "when the serious work of artists making books as art gets conflated with fine edition publishing, many people who share this dismissive attitude toward crafts are driven away." I can see the point trying to be made, but this line of thinking does not seem productive. I am more interested in defining the differences and commonalities of these works. There are similar critical discussions that can happen in both fields of artist's books and fine press printing.

This idea that people working in traditional fine press book form have no artistic voice is repeated throughout the article and I have to disagree. Many people disliked William Morris' Chaucer because they thought it unreadable and too visually distracting to be a proper book. Although traditional in some respects, this book imparts a strong concept that is the vision of the maker of the book. This work should not be dismissed as having nothing to discuss in terms of artist's vision and concept.

An assignment I like to give in my class compares Beatrice Warde's article 'The Crystal Goblet' with Phil Baines' article 'clear enough to read' published in Emigré magazine. My class usually comes to a similar conclusion every time – that both are forms of expression, the difference is more about the volume of that expression and its context. One of the most compelling things about typography and design is that, like architecture, it so strongly reflects the social concepts of any given time. Warde and Baines certainly reflect the ideas of different eras, where the role of self/artistic expression functions at different levels. I don't agree that it is possible to separate form from content and Beatrice Warde, if she were around today, may even adjust that wording. I believe she would recognize that because the design of a text is made to seem 'invisible' does not mean that the intent behind that design is not powerful, or non- existent.

To say that "Warde's transparent, beautiful books simply don't work well in our current environment," may be true and another, interesting conversation to have, but to continue on saying, "They are, to quote Ulises Carrión, books where nothing happens," is just not true – there is in fact quite a bit happening. Whether we understand how to visually read those subtleties in design and composition anymore is the question. To visually read 'Un Coup de Dès' by Mallarmé or 'Parole in Liberta' by Marinetti is easy (and exciting, I love that work), but to enjoy the subtle visual decisions in a well designed page of regular, plain, old text (whether designed digitally or in metal), with no images at all, can be intellectually and artistically rewarding as well.

I am primarily interested in the same thing as Clifton Meador, "to make books that are more aware of the possibilities of the form of the book," to make the book as we know it into something new. I wonder however if it isn't just making books that are more overtly aware of themselves. The traditional and craft foundations give such a complex and important starting point for any contemporary artist book maker that I would hate to see us distance ourselves from them. I would like to see us continue to critically define the distinct areas that fall under the umbrella of artists' books (book art) and educate the larger art community to understand its different and unique facets.


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Inge Bruggeman
1017 SE 34th Avenue
Portland, OR  97214

Flag Book Bind-O-Rama and Exhibit
Entry Deadline, September 15, 2006
For all your subscription questions, go to the
Book_Arts-L FAQ and Archive.
See <http://www.philobiblon.com> for full information

[Subject index] [Index for current month] [Table of Contents] [Search]