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Re: [BKARTS] bookart
Perhaps a different way of phrasing the question would be: what makes a
"book" different from a "painting" or other form of "art"? Someone, I
believe on this list, posted a photograph of a stack of blocks with pictures
on them, referring to it as a "book." Are there any boundaries to the
concept of "book"? If a block with a photograph on it is a "book," or
something that conveys a message is a "book" -- then what is *not* a book?
(From the other direction: how many of you walk into an art museum, full of
Giotto or Mondrian or Rodin or modernist sculpture, and say, "wow, look at
all these books" or, "what fine examples of book-art"?)
This makes me think of the relationship between architecture and books -
going back to a time when a church was a book - a building the audience
'read' and learnt the scriptures from. A book for the illiterate masses. A
However, not everything is a book. I'm sure Mondrian would never have wanted
his work to be considered as bookwork - but that is defined by the
context/historicity the artist works within. Yes, it is true we 'read' Art
in all forms. We are, in this highly media driven societies we inhabit, in
fact 'reading' all the time and are constantly being bombarded with images,
text, messages, slogans, narratives from all sides - that is what makes
investigating what 'reading' is within the context of book art so exciting.
That is why we artists are making such challenging hybrid book forms - the
way we read these days is so different because they way texts are made,
produced and published/transmitted and it is very different to the old
monastic style of quiet reading. Also, if we have become such sophisticated
readers, shouldn't our 'writing' (and I use that term loosely to include all
aspects of book production) match that? Challenge that? Meet that ability?
If book arts is restrained to making codex form books and a concertina every
now and then is because that is about as radical as one may get, then I'll
give it away. Anyway, this codex-words-in-book model Soren put forward has
seemingly overlooked what the materiality of a book communicates. It is no
coincidence that texts considered to be precious are printed, bound and
adorned by the finest materials. All the material aspects of a book are
heavily codified and communicate extremely effectively. Size and format
communicate much. If you pick up a paperback with thin, cheap paper that is
badly set and hurts the eye to read do you not immediately make a value
judgement about the quality of the text and ability of the author? Does not
the finest hand illuminated parchment bound in finely gold gilded leather
inspire reverie and insist on the worth of the text and the position/status
of the author? (whether these value judgements are accurate or not is
another thing, even a butcher knows the secret of dressing mutton as lamb)
My point is: Hands 'read' too.
Hands also 'write' - they communicate with materials in a way that is their
own. Thinking 'with your hands' is different to thinking with your head as
artists know. I think to a certain extent this is a major aspect of the
approach of any book alterer. The are challenging, with their hands, these
material aspects of the book, reclaiming them as an important part of a book
artist's toolkit and communicative voice. Books are not JUST about what's on
I'm excited by books that challenge me and when they allow a space for you
to enter them, to enter and engage in contemplation with them, there is
nothing better. I want to see where artists can take book arts, and see how
they can communicate to me. We will always have the codex, it is a fine
form, but it is not the penultimate model for communication.
I say, carry on - let's see where this takes us.
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Stanmore NSW Australia
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