Imprint and Memory in the Analogue Book Inga Hanover Monash University, Australia Abstract What is so compelling about a book is its physicality. The book format offers a unique intimacy; an artwork that can be viewed in a personal space, can be folded up and put away; or, it can be shared with an immensely large and public audience, passing through both known and unknown hands. The reader can choose the progression and pace and rhythm of revelation of images and text, thus becoming an integral part of the book. This paper celebrates the reader‟s imprint in analogue books; the indexical marks, the lost and found, the accidental traces of the readers that have read the book before you. The intentions of the gift giver have been recorded in an inscription be it heartfelt or cryptic. The tactility of the surface is enhanced and stimulated through olfactory senses triggering memory.
BODY TEXT “If on a winter‟s night a traveller” “Chapter one: You are about to begin to read Italo Calvino‟s new novel, If on a winter‟s night a traveller. Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade. Best to close the door: the TV is always on in the next room. Tell the others right away, “No, I don‟t want to watch TV!” Raise your voice – they won‟t hear you otherwise – “I‟m reading! I don‟t want to be disturbed!” Maybe they haven‟t heard you, with all that racket; speak louder, yell: “I‟m beginning to read Italo Calvino‟s new novel!” Or if you prefer, don‟t say anything; just hope they‟ll leave you alone. Find the most comfortable position: seated, stretched out, curled up, or lying flat. Flat on your back, on your side, on your stomach. In an easy chair, on the sofa, in the rocker, the deck chair, on the hassock. In the hammock, if you have a hammock. On top of your bed, of course, or in the bed. You can even stand on your hands, head down, in the yoga position. With the book upside down, Naturally. Of course, the ideal position for reading is something you can never find. In the old days they used to read standing up, at a lectern. People were accustomed to standing on their feet, without moving. They rested like that when they were tired of horseback riding. Nobody ever thought of reading on horseback; and yet now, the idea of sitting in the saddle, the book propped against the horse‟s mane, or maybe tied to the horse‟s ear with a special harness, seems attractive to you. With your feet in the stirrups, you should feel quite comfortable for reading; having your feet up is the first condition for enjoying a read. Well, what are you waiting for? Stretch your legs, go ahead and put your feet on a cushion, on two cushions, on the arms of a sofa, on the wings of a chair, on the coffee table, on the desk, on the piano, on the globe. Take your shoes off first. If you want to, put your feet up; if not, put 1 them back. Now don‟t stand there with your shoes in one hand and the book in the other. (Calvino 1982, 9)
I share part of the preface of chapter one of, “If on a winter‟s night a traveller” by Italo Calvino, as the author describes the condition and nature of reading, and the relationship between us and a book over the course of one chapter, in minute descriptive detail. Calvino writes, not only about our fondness of the new book, the „pleasure of expectation‟, but; of the elements of comfort that are a requisite to reading before „slipping down the rabbit-hole‟, and the selection of books, whether they are in the category of: „The Books Too Expensive Now And You‟ll Wait Till 2 3 They‟re Remaindered,‟ (Calvino 1982, 10) or „Books You Can Borrow From Somebody‟, 4 (Calvino 1982, 9-10) or, „The Books You Need To Go With Other Books On Your Shelves‟, (Calvino 1982, 10) along with „The Books That Fill You With Sudden, Inexplicable Curiosity, Not 5 Easily Justified‟, (Calvino 1982, 10) or „The Books You‟ve Always Pretended To Have Read 6 And Now It‟s Time To Sit Down And Really Read Them.‟ (Calvino 1982, 10) Of the twenty two chapters in the book, the odd numbered chapters are about a reader‟s attempt to read the novel if on a winter‟s night a traveller; while the even numbered chapters are all single chapters from books that the reader is reading in the pursuit of wanting to read “If on a winter‟s night a traveller.” I use it as a starting point, to begin to describe a generation‟s attachment to the printed paper book and to attempt to understand and to tease out a possible future of the “book” as such a much loved and often sacred object of current and past generations. For the last seven hundred years humankind‟s collective world knowledge and intellect has been stored in books; knowledge was power, dangerous and subversive ideas were spread questioning our values and ourselves, languages exchanged, communities made literate. Some books became symbols of our core values and who we were, and elicit amazingly strong responses when they are threatened with destruction, such as the threatened burning of the 7 Koran by a US pastor recently. Our rooms are often covered in books and there are some that become the last earthly possessions that we give away, or form links to our ancestral pasts. An analogue generation have valued them not just for entertainment, or repositories of learning, but for their contents‟ ability to show us paths that we could never have dreamt of, nor imagined. Our first experiences of art are often in the form of the picture book, helping us to become literate. The book is also valued as an object itself, the fine craftsmanship within the stitching and the binding. Although paper is a most fragile and fragmentary of materials it has over the centuries proven to be a very reliable and safe method of storage of the world‟s written wisdom over centuries. So it should come as no surprise that the designers of the Amazon electronic reader the kindle have invested much in replicating the very bookishness of books that has developed over hundreds of years since the 1250s when finely crafted books were being produced in China, or 1
Calvino, Italo. 1982 If On a Winter‟ Night a Traveller. London: Pan Books Ltd. 9. Ibid 10. 3 Ibid 9-10 4 Ibid 10 5 Ibid 10 6 Ibid 10 7 Daily Mail. 2011. Man, 32, arrested „for burning Koran in city centre anti-Muslim protest”. (Internet) Last updated on 21 January 2011. Accessed 24 May 2011. Available from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1348744/US-pastor-threathened-burn-Koran-9-11anniversary-banned-entering-UK.html 2
since Johannes Gutenberg‟s first prints of text and image were peeled off the Western European press around 1440. At approximately 20cm x 13.5cm x 9mm in dimension and 289grams in weight the outward appearance of an electronic reading device such as the wireless kindle emulates a paperback with its tapering bulge towards the book‟s binding edge. It is ideal for holding at the „desired‟ 30 to 40 cm from the eyes; thus easy to read in a hammock (no problems if you fall asleep as there are no intrusive beeps to wake you or worry of the kindle getting hot and burning bed clothes), or curled up on the sofa, lounging on the grass, sitting on public transport or lying in the bath (not sure how waterproof they are). You could apparently read non-stop for four days with wireless on, or, with wireless off read up to two weeks continuously and only need a two to four hour break to re-charge batteries and continue the reading marathon. Hundreds of books can be stored in the palm of your hand with no need for physical bookmarks or sticky notes as within the reader you have the ability to search within the web. To accommodate failing eyesight, after so much reading, the font size can be personalised to your preferred size. I list these features to demonstrate that wherever you can take a book, you can indeed take an electronic reader and, most likely, still have all the pleasures and experiences associated with reading. Of course the bonus electronically is that, where ever there is connectivity in the world you can potentially have access to all the books ever written in the palm of your hand; and in the end, is not the “experience” of reading: of the sharing of ideas, discovery of new, dangerous or subversive ideas, of the disappearance into worlds of mystery and magic the same, whether it be via letterpress on paper, or via current technology on plastics and metal. In a 2007 Newsweek article, The Future of Reading, exploring the “death” of the book as a bastion of the analogue generation, and the birth of a true digital age of serious literary and intellectual reading in the form of the electronic book; Steven Levy writes: “So it‟s not surprising, when making mental lists of the most whiz-bang technological creations in our lives, that we may overlook an object that is superbly designed, wickedly functional, infinitely useful and beloved more passionately than any gadget in Best Buy: the book. It is a more reliable storage device than a hard disk drive, and it sports a killer user interface. (No instruction manual or “For Dummies” guide needed.) And, it is instant-on and requires no batteries. Many people think it is so perfect an invention that it can‟t be improved upon, and react with indignation at any 8 implication to the contrary”. (Levy 2007) It should make no difference whether you‟re reading an article in my hand writing, or typed on an old ribbon type writer, or a print out from my computer in a Tahoma 10 font or on a i pad. But somehow it does. Inexplicably, my cup of tea „tastes‟ better from a small thin china cup as opposed to a large thick ceramic mug or jumper in winter feels warmer if it has a fluffier softer texture, and, I think that, that is because we do things, such as reading, with more than just our „eyes‟, it is a multi sensorial activity. It seems that what is so compelling is the physicality, the tactility of the book. The book format offers a unique intimacy, a work that can be viewed in a personal space; can be folded up and put away; or, it can be shared with an immensely large and public audience; passing through known and unknown hands. The reader can choose the progression and pace and rhythm of revelation of images and text, thus becoming an integral part of the book. Interactivity, particularly in children‟s books and artists books in the form of movable parts adds to the excitement and wonder when something small and two dimensional can be opened up into a larger three dimensional structure.
Levy, Steven. 2007. The Future of Reading. Accessed 24 May 2011. Available from: http://newsweek.com/2007/11/17/the-future-of-reading.html.
The physical nature of the book allows us to own it. What slightly disturbs me about the widespread use of the e-reader replacing the paper book is that the „ultimate right to own‟ a book could be lost. After all the book and e reader giant Amazon apparently „deleted‟ some 9 editions of Orwell‟s Animal Farm and the futuristic 1984. Along with owning a book we can choose to give it away and from that follows; to find it after someone else has given it away. As the analogue age of the book is increasingly being replaced by the digital age, in the form of electronic devices and the web, there is no shortage of paper books from libraries, deceased estates, household collections and schools, finding their way into free community sharing reading programs, stacking up at second hand book stores, garage sales and op shops. With the disappearance of books, a relatively inexpensive gift giving tradition might die away and with it the ex libris plates and the inscriptions that appear beneath the covers of these books. When looking through these „inscribed‟ books what has struck me is the poignancy, the humour of the varied inscriptions that have been penned. It becomes strangely compelling to read and subsequently, to obsessively search for more inscriptions, be they heartfelt or cryptic. There are the inscriptions in copperplate that guide the reader in a King James Bible: Presented to M Gelling as a Birthday Present from her Loving and Affectionate Mother August th 29 1876, “Search the Scriptures”; or act as a welcome to an organization: Presented to Neil Arnold, United Sunday school, Junior Class. carefully in 1937 in words no longer spoken
N White 1968; or penned
Judy with love and best wishes for Christmas and as a reward for work faithfully done, from.........(the name here, is unclear) or, urging engagement, as in the copy of God Runs my Business, The story of R.G Letourneau, which reads: Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute What you can do or think you can Begin it Boldness hath genius; power; and magic in it. Engage! For thus the mind grows heated. Begin and then the task will be completed; or lent out by „non humans‟ as in the case of a book titled How to Be a Dog Psychic; the inscription reading: „This book belongs to Nance Love 22 Esmond Rd Wangaratta Return when it has been fully read regards the dogs; or rather epic, such as an inscription in the end pages of a paperback copy of Thoreau‟s Walden and Other Writings, that begins with: Start here... Hans mine deary herry on this windy Tokyo day it gives me great pleasure (mmmm) to present you with this book – „cause it‟s a book i enjoyed very much – a book i found to be full of honesty – the honesty of a strong person who can face his own strengths and weaknesses, look them straight in the eye and act so as to transcend them or something (or not) Hope you enjoy digesting this book (chew well) And, continues for three more pages, ending with:
Stone, Bradley. 17 July 2009. Accessed 24 May 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/18/technology/companies/18amazon.html
So Fare Ye Well Hans my friend Keep on Travelling light Good warm feelings I send to you May Gods blessings be with you (as i‟m sure they are) Love Roy Hans if it was possible for you to look back you‟d see how high you have flown Thanks There is a whole organization devoted to the written word beneath the covers of a book. The Book Inscription Project was started in 2002, with the find of the following inscription in a copy of The Road to „Human destiny‟: A Life of Pierre Lecomte Du Nouy by Mary Lecomte: “Joey, I love you so much! You have surpassed the definition for all. I will always cherish our orgasmic moments. love + resistance Mark” 10 Since then, the project has been collecting and collating personal messages (either drawn or written), that have been found in books by others. Sometimes the new owner of the inscribed book will go to extraordinary lengths to locate both the writer and receiver of the inscription. The inscriptions allow us a glimpse into the relationship between giver and receiver. Depending on our own experiences, we can sometimes gain a great understanding of the relationship between the two parties, other times, the few words simple as they may be, elicit tangled emotions, even decades later. I guess that it is not much of a coincidence that I should pick up a book at the local church fair, that once belonged to the woman that I currently car pool to work with; given that many decades ago we had both grown up in the town of Beechworth. The inscription of The Master of Jalna reads: Jill Shennan from Uncle Joe, 1970. I hesitated in buying this, not because of the cost, and the inscription was like hundreds that I had seen; but, I purchased it anyway, to “return” to the said Jill the following week. In a staff meeting, always looking for a lighter distraction, I passed the book across to her. An emotion that I couldn‟t quite read altered her gaze. Later I learned that this was an unwanted gift and caused a sense of guilt in seeing those words as she had not read these books that her Uncle Joe had given her in gratitude for her assistance. At the same church fair I found a copy of Faith, Hope and Love by Starr Daily, inscribed: to Mum, Mothers Day 1961, from Shirley with love and then later the giver has placed her own name there Shirley Powell. Shirley Powell was my first piano teacher and the mother of my best childhood friend...feeling the pages of the book left me feeling as though I was touching her hands again. Or the inscription might simply inform the reader of the source of the book‟s binding material: bound in human skin. This was the most macabrely fascinating inscription was one that I heard about on a radio program. I was driving to an appointment, listening to radio national, when I heard: “When I opened the book, the first thing I see is an inscription, underlined and in a neat
About the project. How it Started Accessed 20 September 2010. Available from: http://bookinscriptions.com/books/about
flowing hand: Bound in human skin.”11 I stopped, knowing that I would be late, but had an intense curiosity to hear more about anthropodermic bibliopegy: the practice of binding books in human skin. It transpired that this was not such an uncommon practice in past centuries. “Most of these bindings were torn from the corpses of criminals killed by the state, from the bodies of those too poor to pay for their own burial or perhaps those exhumed illegally by "resurrectionists" who sold cadavers to surgeons eager to practise their skills. There are some exceptions, however: a notable few came from individuals who chose to have their hides used in such a manner after their death. Through pride, devotion, vanity or pure cheek, they donated that most personal of relics, their skin, expressly for the purpose of encasing words. They include a highwayman who requested that his life story, bound in his own hide, be presented to the plucky gentleman who had resisted his attempts to rob him, a countess who was charmingly complimented by a writer on her beautiful shoulders and a poet who grasped the dubious opportunity of amputation to bind his poems in the skin from his lopped-off leg.”12 Bookbinders found leather to be relatively cheap, durable and waterproof. If you are like me, you may wonder at how the skin is treated: “As for the method used to make human hide into useable leather, Holbrook Jackson, a leading bibliophile of his time, offers an insight in his 1950 book, The Anatomy of Bibliomania. He quotes Edwin Zaehnsdorf, who wrote in a trade journal, The Footwear Organiser, that “man skin must be saturated for several days in a strong solution of alum, Roman vitriol and common salt, dried in the shade, and dressed in ordinary fashion.” 13 And then there are the „official‟ inscriptions that tell us about the book‟s former ownership: this book belongs to the City of Sydney Public Library, 20728; first borrowed 3 September 1954, last borrowed 16 march 1955; or the book‟s fate: CANCELLED. The title of this book was Plague and Fire. Takers and Returners from the Goulburn Valley Library was stamped WITHDRAWN FROM CIRCULATION; with the book, The Day the Earth Shook suffering a similar fate, simply stamped in bold red lettering DISCARDED. A 1949 edition of Buzzard Tracks by Tom Hopkins, stamped Hire of this book is 4P per 10 days. 1P per day after the ten days, informs us of a list of past owners, not necessarily in order, starting with the Inverloch Mechanics Institute, the Maldon Athenaeum Free Library, followed by Stan Hall @ 541 Chapel St South Yarra, then (the first word is not present) Creek Ladies‟ Bowling Club and finally, what appears to be a hand written A D Harris. As I‟m working on my lap top I imagine that I could also be tracing each and every action on my laptop since it left the production line if I had the skills to retrieve data, but there seems to be a greater human historical presence in the books. What disappears with the disappearance of paper books are the „accidental‟ or indexical marks. The traces of the readers that have read the book before you and the traces of what was once important and significant on the written page: a phrase, a word, an idea, a memory, a trigger. Or underlined sentences, even whole passages where the emphasis on the reading has been changed for you by the previous reader; (I guess this is just an early blog with only a few participants; but, what is quite beautiful is that you can run your finger over the line and almost „feel‟ the presence of the previous reader, you can see by the weight and thickness of the line, the emphactiness of the emphasis) words that stand out where a red pencil line has lassoed them; deeply personal penned ideas appear in margins, the beginnings of conversations or arguments between the reader and the author; marginalia filled with the notes, drawings, and maps knowledgeable only to the writer
11 12 13
Cuskelly, Mary Rose. 03 June 2009. The Australian Newspaper. Ibid. Ibid
and opening up new interpretations and ideas to the new reader. A stain where coffee or wine or a sneeze or a flood of tears interrupted the flow of words and sentences and thoughts. A 1940s abridged edition of Hans Anderson‟s Fairy Tales once belonging to Sheila. H of 171 Atherton Rd Phone 563835 (written in a child‟s handwriting) also has two hands traced on the front end pages; one hand has coloured nails, the other hand is witch or claw like, while the back end page has an outline of a Christmas tree topped with a small smiling angel. In a copy of Dale Carnegie‟s, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, a previous owner has thought it significant to note the following page numbers on the front end paper: pages 204,14, 20, 61, 184, 173, 36, 48, 98, 165, 198, 234. Nancy Rasmussin‟s school copy of Selected Short Stories reveals her thinking process, the smaller words that she could derive from the word inarticulate; Nancy has extracted the following: artic, are, rat, cat, late, lute, cute, tar, in, ant, tan, tale, tule27 An actual bookmark generally marks the spot where the reader has left off or has marked a page of significance, or absently left. The „found‟ bookmark is sometimes as ordinary as a shopping list or as mundane as a dog eared corner, the crease almost transparent and falling away from the page; or a scrap of wallpaper giving you the new owner of the book, perhaps a clue to the age of the book, by the paper‟s pattern and fragility, a paper monetary note, a leaf pressed between laminated sheets made by a child in a kindergarten class and brought home and given as a mother‟s day gift; a faded fluorescent sticky note with a sketched self portrait; a sepia reproduction of a turn-of-the-century Parisian erotic postcard name Angelique or a pious prayer card intoning words to Mother Mary, or a bizarrely pressed and dehydrated insect. Or the bookmark can tell us where the book, or owner or reader have been; a ticket: an all day concession zone one travel card, a V Line train ticket, a movie ticket; or a postcard or Wrigley‟s spearmint gum wrapper, or the receipt for the book‟s original purchase. And, lastly there are the traces of „destruction‟ by the reader; pieces that have been deliberately taken away from the book, sometimes with great precision, other times without the slightest care. When I opened a book titled Machine Design by Irving J. Levinson, once belonging to RMIT Central Library, I found that a small nest shape had been ripped out through 128 pages. Many books have had the names and inscriptions of former owners cut away, a need for privacy or anonymity once they have left the owner. I have found that the next most popular part to cut away, are the images that appear in books. Sometimes, just the covers are left, lying discarded with supine spines. My mother inherited hundreds of Russian novels in the Cyrillic alphabet from her father. As she could not read these and as nobody else wanted them (if only I had had my current book interest) over a period of years she gradually ripped out the pages and started her wood stove fires with them. The last of these covers were rescued a few years ago. Textures and surfaces can be felt and the smells of the ink and glue, or of age and past homes of the book, within the pages, arouse and stimulate other senses. As the olfactory sense is such a strong memory trigger, the smell of books takes us back into time and long forgotten faces and places. For me the smell of old glossy magazines reminds me of both my father who in the 1950s subscribed to an American House and Garden and also my subsequent childhood dream of marrying an American and living in a modern interior such as spilled out from those magazine pages; whereas, the smell of an antique literature book reminds me of my grandfather who spent his afternoons reading and re reading either the Russian classics or the Bible. It is not the words on these pages, but the physical smell that triggers the memories. If it is not obvious already, I should state my bias towards the analogue book. Books in my house now have spilled over and off book shelves, piling up on floors, becoming semi architectural features. The trace of the reader, that past human presence is an intrinsic part of the book, and an element that I think is irreplaceable in current e readers; it is that very human presence that will ensure the survival of the book in the form of the artists‟ book. Quoting from the catalogue of the Victorian State Library‟s MIRROR WORLD books and ideas: “At a time
when digital forms of information dissemination are presenting potential alternatives, the book‟s future is ensured by its nature as an ever-changing object to be admired, read, desired and owned.”14 Advocates of the electronic book will argue for its greater sustainability over the paper book as a product, given the exhaustive and exorbitant use of forests and water to create the book. And if you particularly wanted a hard copy of your electronic version then it can be downloaded instantly and printed and bound at point of sale one copy at a time by the Espresso Book Machine. After all the cost of paper backs in particular is not in their consumption of paper use but in the storage, transportation and point of sale real estate costs of the finished books. The legal machinations and payment to authors remains whether the book format is electronic or actual. However, the emergence of a „scrapbooking‟ industry would suggest that it is not just the analogue generation who is in love with paper. A younger, more digitally aware generation is enamoured with the „home printing industry‟ and the cute and decorative elements of stickers, stamps and speciality papers. “Our relationship with paper remains strong, not just because it has qualities that please us. We take pleasure in the ownership of books as objects, not just in their contents; we have a seemingly endless appetite for special packaging and stationary , supporting through our consumption an enormous manufacturing industry and retailers such as Paperchase, at a time when the computer is perceived as the replacement for the handwritten word and digital media rule. Papers predicted redundancy has not diminished its attractiveness as a material in its own right.”15 But, maybe we should simply be more careful with our books, cherishing them a little more; as we do the many rare books, including artists‟ books. In the reading room, next to the portrait gallery of the State Library of Victoria, artists‟ books are retrieved from the shelves on request. In this quiet, hallowed reading room, you hear the muffled drone of the city life outside, the hum of heating within the heart of the building, and on this one particular day, punctuated by the staccato tapping of the keyboard by a local author, or the intermittent click of a camera shutter as a scholar takes images of each of the pages from The Gold Digger‟s Advocate 1854 (incomplete); seated in a plush and cushioned red chair the reader (I) ritualistically place a pillow on the leather topped desk, then pull on the white cotton gallery gloves before undoing the grey archival boxes specially made for many of the artists‟ books in the library‟s collection. Contemporary books, in the form of artists‟ books may become as precious as they once were centuries ago, as books as repositories of knowledge and power, their secrets available to the literate few; now, with knowledge so ubiquitous in an electronic format, books may once again become immeasurably precious, highly prized rarities because of the materials that they are created from and because of their creators. And whilst the future for many books will be to be primarily produced as e books in the first instance and then due to demand will be printed in „hard copy‟ editions with hand writing, hand drawing, and printing methods that access not just the newest of technologies but employ the older ones as well to make them more unique. The Oxford Dictionary definition of a book is "A collection of sheets of paper or other substance, blank, written or printed, fastened together so as to form a material whole ..... protected by covers",16 a definition that allows an enormously rich amount of interpretation for the visual artist
State Library of Victoria. 2007. 2 edn. Mirror World Books and Ideas. Melbourne: State Library of Victoria Publication. 15 Jackson, Paul; Thomas, Jane. 2001. On Paper: New Paper Art. Merrell Publishers Ltd. 013 16 th Sykes, J. B. 1976. 6 edn Concise Oxford Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 111
in terms of the bewildering array of materials and structures that can be utilised. The necessity to touch the work, however, is of a primary concern, as the reader is in control not just of the timing, but the movement of page turning. Definitions of what an artists‟ book is, vary. However, the following is generally applicable to an artists‟ book: it is handmade, of a unique state or in a limited edition; text and image are integral to each other; artworks are original and/or appropriated; and paper is but one of many mediums used. Clearly the growing popularity of the artists‟ books as a medium for artists working in other disciplines comes from the intimate and tactile nature of a book. In the BRUNO LETI survey artists books 1982 – 2003 catalogue, Alan Loney writes: “On every painting or print there is an unwritten sign that reads “touch me not”, and this distancing of our intimacy is matched by a similar unwritten sign on every book, which reads, “Touch me now”. The status and durability of a painting resides in the unwritten sign of this prohibition. The status and durability of a book resides in the sensitive acceptance of the invitation to handle it. In fact, access to a book requires our touch and much can be read in any person‟s approach to books in the very ways that we can see that they handle them.”17 Artists‟ books are more than books, and over the last century they have become a major medium for artistic expression, in particular collaborative expression because of the artists‟ book‟s capacity to accommodate text and image. “Partly because they defy easy classification, bookworks feel quite at home among postmodern art works. Like other post modern genres, such as installations, artists‟ books allow and even require, versatility in the use of materials; and, by virtue of their built-in complexity, encourage intertextuality as well as multimedia experimentation.”18 In the preface of the Bruno Leti survey exhibition of artists‟ books, Geelong Gallery curator at the time, Brian Hubber writes, “and I came to understand that the Book is an iconic cultural artefact, and the making of a book is one of mankind‟s most humane acts, quoting Jenny Zimmer „unfolding as they do, page by page, leaf by leaf, books form ideal records of artists‟ journeys – whether they be temporal, conceptual or spatial‟.”19 Existing books, of all ages and genres are being recycled into “altered books”. Becoming a cheap and accessible source of material for sustainable art creations, books are stripped of some of their symbolic power, with their original and traditional meanings and associations being questioned. There are countless „altered book‟ web sites that detail examples, practitioners, help guides, further links and how-to-make instructions. There are books that have been intricately carved revealing images at different planes such as the “Book Autopsies” of Brian Dettmer. Some books remain intact from the sculptor‟s scalpel, but become palimpsests through the crossing out and masking and obliterating of some, or large parts of the original text to reveal new text, hence new meanings, such as in Tom Phillips‟ “A Humument”. Simryn Gill has completely erased (sanded gently with sandpaper till only white spaces remain) the text from a set of Time Life books on the countries of the world. Even the text on the maps has been erased, and it is interesting to note how much information the viewer observes about each country from the images alone. She has also, completely dismantled and reassembled a bible into strings of beads. The physicality of the book seduces many visual artists and it is a medium used not just by paper artists, but disciplines as diverse as ceramics, glass and textiles. Book artists often consider the historical development of papermaking and 17
Loney, Alan. 2003. Bruno Leti Survey Artists‟ Books 1982 -2003 essay. Geelong: Geelong Art Gallery Publication. 11 18 Hubert, Judd, D; Hubert, Renee, R. 1999. The Cutting Edge of Reading: Artists‟ Books. New York: Granary Books. 7 19 Hubber, Brian. 2003. Bruno Leti Artists‟ Books 1982 – 2003.Geelong: Geelong Art Gallery Publication.
book production in their own work and are resurrecting traditional techniques and procedures that were abandoned centuries ago. In chapter one of If on a winter‟s night a traveller, Calvino writes: “this circling of the book, too, this reading around it before reading inside it, is a part of the pleasure in a new book,” 20 and so, it was for me, when I picked up a copy of Scratch. For me the most memorable artists‟ book that I have looked at to date is Scratch by Christian Boltanski. Published by Konig in 2003, the book is approximately an A5 format, ten thick pages in length. The responsibility of viewing the images is the readers alone; as is the pace at which the „forbidden‟ images are viewed; the black and white, slightly pixelated graphic images of mutilated women are only revealed as the viewer scratches off the silver latex coating. Our normal associations with the silver latex coating are with scratch it lottery tickets that reap a financial (and presumably happy) reward. Artists and bookmakers have been adding moving pieces to images to enhance the written word and engage the reader for over seven hundred years, adding a third dimension to illustrations through the use of movable and collapsible parts; rather than through the use of th perspective and perceived depth on the page. Since the 18 and 19th century volvelles in books were used not just for scientific teaching purposes, making astrological predictions and telling fortunes; but, for the pleasure and entertainment of children. Production of “metamorphoses” books in the late 1700s, were called “turn-ups” or “harlequinades”, with the illustrations changing, one page being lifted and disclosing another hidden page/picture beneath illustrating the story line. From the 1890s onwards publishers Ernest Nister and artist Lothar Meggendorfer produced movable books with die cutting, dioramas, dissolving and revolving transformational slats, and numerous actions per page via pulley systems and pull tabs. In the last decades there has been a resurgence of pop-ups in commercial book production, often influencing the structuring of artists‟ books. The surprise element within pop-ups is being further enhanced with the addition of sound and light. Some books need to be baked to reveal their contents as in the Podravka annual report designed by Bruketa and Zinic. In this case the book needs to be baked at precisely 100deg C for 25 minutes to reveal the images and recipes using Podravka products. Some books are made to glow in the dark, thus separating them from all other books in your bookshelf at night. Designer Kyle Bean fabricated a laptop within the binding of a book holding the knowledge of the past that he has called The Future of Books. When the book is opened it is lit up by the laptop‟s screen. In the last three decades, Book Arts associations have been formed and ironically it has been the web of the digital age that has helped to create and support strong bonds between book artists nationally and internationally, allowing the sharing of ideas and techniques. Increasingly libraries and art centres, both here in Australia and internationally are establishing artists‟ book collections, galleries are hosting artists‟ book exhibitions and dedicated artists‟ book galleries are emerging. If the analogue book is to survive then perhaps it will survive in the format of the artists‟ book. Contemporary artists‟ books form a vital link to the future of „hard-copy‟ libraries and cultural knowledge banks, as artists‟ books have “re conceptualised the form as a dynamic new integrated art and literary medium”.
Calvino, Italo. 1982 If On a Winter‟ Night a Traveller. London: Pan Books Ltd. 13
REFERENCES Books Avella, Natalie. 2009. Paper Engineering:3-D design techniques for a 2-D material. Switzerland:RotoVision. Calvino, Italo. 1982 If On a Winter‟ Night a Traveller. London: Pan Books Ltd. Haslan, Andrew. 2006. Design. New York: Imprint of Harry.N.Abrams,Inc. Hubert, Judd, D; Hubert, Renee, R. 1999. The Cutting Edge of Reading: Artists‟ Books. New York: Granary Books. Jackson, Paul; Thomas, Jane. 2001. On Paper: New Paper Art. Merrell Publishers Ltd. Johnson, Pauline. 1960. Creating with Paper: basic forms and variations. London: Nicholas Kaye Limited. Smith, Keith, A. 2003. Structure of the Visual Book: the expanded fourth edition. Rochester: Keith Smith BOOKS. th Sykes, J. B. 1976. 6 edn Concise Oxford Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 111 Exhibition Catalogues Hubber, Brian. 2003. Bruno Leti Artists‟ Books 1982 – 2003.Geelong: Geelong Art Gallery Publication. Loney, Alan. 2003. Bruno Leti Survey Artists‟ Books 1982 -2003 essay. Geelong: Geelong Art Gallery Publication. nd State Library of Victoria. 2007. 2 edn. Mirror World Books and Ideas. Melbourne:State Library of Victoria.Publication. Journals Cuskelly, Mary Rose. 03 June 03 2009 The Australian Newspaper. Web pages About the project. How it Started Accessed 20 September 2010. Available from: http://bookinscriptions.com/books/about http://www.booklynarts.com http://www.centerforbookarts.org Daily Mail. 2011. Man, 32, arrested „for burning Koran in city centre anti-Muslim protest”. (Internet) Last updated on 21 January 2011. Accessed 24 May 2011. Available from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1348744/US-pastor-threathened-burn-Koran-9-11anniversary-banned-entering-UK.html http://www.designboom.com/weblog/cat/8/view/7276/well-done-podravka-annual-report-bybruketa-zinic.html http://www.libraries.rutgers.edu/rul/libs/scua/montanar/p-intro.html. Levy, Steven. 2007. The Future of Reading. Accessed 24 May 2011. Available from: http://newsweek.com/2007/11/17/the-future-of-reading.html. http://nytimes.com/2009/08/09/education/09textbook.html Stone, Bradley. 17 July 2009. Accessed 24 May 2011. Available from: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/18/technology/companies/18amazon.html