Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Book of Laughing and Crying

John Smith
altered book
pen drawings

This artists book juxtaposes contrasting visual devices to represent a constant struggle between creative endeavour and beaurocratic structure.

When asked what the books initial purpose was (before it was altered), John described it as a book used "to find out where you are". Published specifically for marine navigation the book consists of over a million numerical values ordered within tables on the pages of the book. These values are used to interpret celestial readings to accurately locate where you are on the surface of the earth. A extraordinary achievement in its time the navigational system that this book supported has long since been replaced by GPS technology, - however the digital & mechanical recording of the information in the book, the grid structure and methodical mapping of the earths surface effectively reflects beaurocratic structure. A structure that after dealing with for so long one does not know whether to laugh or cry about. The red marks in Johns drawing represent laughing and the blue marks crying. During the many hours spent in meetings that he has been required to attend John has developed a particular habit of drawing child like images on the paperwork accompanying the agendas of such meetings. This drawing practice is the basis of the over 150 drawings in this artists book. They are childlike, though in no way childish, unrestrained and carefree of formal boundaries other than those of the books structure. The drawings lounge over the text and numbers, spilling over the surface of the paper as a child's drawing might, and this element opens up further readings of the artwork. In as much as the tables, over which the images roam, can be read to find out where you are, these drawings might also be read to find the person that made them.

Overall the artworks particular strength as an artists book lies in Johns use of the formal structure of the book as a drawing surface, where the boundaries of the pages physically contain the drawing. Given more surface area they would have extended out beyond the page, so that despite johns comment that "the book represents beaurocracy and structure and I drew all over the phucker" he expression is still confined to the specific space of the books structure, the dance continues.

The Book of Laughing and Crying was shown at the Southern Cross University acquisative Artists Book Award 2006.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Bodies of Text, Books for Alex Selenitsch

" Books for Alex Selenitsch " by Sarah Jones
Sewn dolls stuffed with shredded codex text, 2007, each book unique.

“ In a paper delivered at the 6th Australian print symposium 2007, Alex Selenitsch made the suggestion that artists books can be distinguished from conventional books in that they are not taken to bed. “

This tounge in cheek response by Sarah to A Selenitsch re-asserts the inability to effectively define those ambulant artworks that are now well know as artists books. Despite Sarah’s humour her books are clearly Bodies of text. The fragment of text caught in the zipper of the blue body, the shape of the bodies formed by the text stuffed into them, these bodies are know from the words used to construct them both physically and conceptually. Words and language are at the heart of anyones conscious perception of themselves. Yet despite all of our words much of what we are, such as some emotions, remains unexpressed. Words facilitate and limit our ability to express ourselves.
Taking a book to bed speaks of an intimacy of space and place. Intimacy between friends is tied to the ability to communicate, artists books exsist in both these places, as an intimate space and a space to communicate.

“Does the space change in the performance of reading an artists book?”