16 April 2011

Last week at college

This week - and next - are the Easter break. Last week consisted of two thought-provoking seminars, two near disasters, and two sessions of screen printing. The "research practitioner" lecture was postponed.

The first seminar, at X marks the Bokship, was a discussion of James Langdon's writings in the "Book" book, and Ulises Carrion's manifesto of what a bookwork is. For instance, a writer doesn't write a book - a writer writes texts. Artists' bookmaking crosses the boundaries between disciplines that exist in traditional publishing, often in the form of a collaboration (but at risk of losing excellence or even competence that are the result of specialisation).

Random notes:
-"we learn to read so that we can communicate" - or, so that we can receive communication?
-comparing text-in-the-printed book to electronic text
-the novelty of photobooks in the 1960s
-tearing pages out of a book as they are read (Sir Humphry Davy was said to do so)
-when the book has been consumed, what do you do with what's left in your head?
-piracy in Peru - often sections of the pirated book are changed, eg, adding a chapter
-in a blank book, the title is the container [of information], not the book itself - the object speaks through its elements, and its context
-"binary books" - we take the pairing of pages for granted, and ignore the discontinuity of this formal division
-for some poets, the form of the book gets in the way of the words - they don't want to see their poems printed
-a project consisting of stories of why people chose a certain book to add to a library

Books, artists, authors, etc to find out about -
The Book Show (Eastside projects)
Again A Time Machine (Book Works travelling show)
Bookworks Revisited (trailer on youtube)- summary here
Mirtha Demisache
Artists and archives: Susan Hiller, Hans Peter Feldman, Peter Pillar, Celine Duval
Faction - a group of bookmakers

First disaster averted - realising, after having coffee after the seminar - t in time to retrieve it, that I'd left one of my bags at the shop...

Next day, the first session of screenprinting - lots of space to spread out, and I needed it, to fill in the remaining blanks on the remaining sheets -
The day after that, the second seminar with Maiko Tsutsumi - we all brought an object we had made, or a found object, for discussion and consideration of "what is it that makes the object speak". It was a fascinating two hours; I shall try to be brief..
Coat hanger - away from its function and location; cheap, ubiquitous, but sophisticated processes, time, labour to produce it; what makes it "not valuable"; tied to a sense of temporariness

Wallet made from recycled tetra pack - noisy for carrying money; not recognisable at first; more valuable than previous use?; how to draw out the quality of the material used; mending the broken object

Glass jar with lid - "handy" and homely; details like ridgy pattern on bottom; "holds a lot" (memories of grandmother making pickles); why not use plastic..?; how was it manufactured; mismatched lid

Brick - can be used as ashtray and strike match on side; alchemy of making house from bricks made from clay taken from site of house; bricks used for patterning; function of the shape

Medals hanging on found board with hooks - patinated resin, printed fabric; flocked back; the lucky find of the board, and treating it to fit with the medals

Packet of rubber gloves - discussion of using hair and properties of hair; laquerwork brushes made of babies' hair; jumpers knit of dog hair; using gloves, slipping on & off, blowing into them to pop out the fingers; colours of gloves (black for boys?)

Coconut - sound of hooves; aesthetics; comforting shape; egg-like qualities

Painting - different when laid on a table; not touching the surface; material of making a painting, esp linen; seen from the side, it's like the spine of a book; pleasure of making a good surface before painting on it (a process not revealed or talked about); authorship when someone else does part of the work, eg stretches the canvas

When it came to my money-bag panacea object, reaction was that they were theatrical, like fantasy costumes or ritual - a bit new age - which indeed they are, in the way they are based on belief in talismanic objects. I seemed to spend rather too long - again! - explaining about Goa stones...

Second disaster averted consisted of remembering, before leaving the building, that I'd left my portfolio in the seminar room -
Over in the screen printing studio, I was able to tone down some of the unfortunate areas, and tie the set of sheets together somewhat, by overprinting in pale, opaque colours -
Some old fabric samples turned up recently in a box in the "avalanche corner" of my studio - these date back to the days when Stroud Green Road had several sweatshops, which sometimes discarded interesting things. They looked great on the screen
and I ended up with a heap of little treasures -
With that project finished (all except for putting the books together, of course) there was time to print some "flocks of the sky birds" on scrim, organza, and mull. Another project in progress...

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