30 September 2012

Next project

Some months back I signed up for the Al-Mutanabbi Street Project - the commitment is to make three books by December. Free of other commitments (indeed of all attachments, it seems), I need to start - and have been doing a lot of thinking about it (but not much actual research yet).

The photo of charred remains of the street - the historic centre of bookselling in Baghdad - after the car bomb exploded was what got me thinking about making "inky books" - which look burnt. The ink also affects the paper so that they look buckled and fragile, but the ink seems to make the paper stronger; I'm not sure whether this fits into or works against the concept behind the aesthetics of what I'm trying to make here...

What to start with, though - what structure, what materials? and what to put "in" the book, apart from ink - words? marks? pictures? Before inking-out-the-ink I could use graphite to add the words or marks - which would take a lot of labour but I like that densely laborious element, it adds aura. And the quantities of ink needed for the obliteration increase that denseness.

One possibility - which I'm drawn to "because it's there" - is to reuse some of my morning-pages notebooks, thoroughly inking out all the previous/tedious writing. This is a personal obliteration, a willful forgetting - which may or may not fit with what I see as the societal obliteration of knowledge through destruction of books and the structures that support their dissemination. Which is something that almost seems to go without saying ... I don't feel I have anything new to say about this, at this point ... I just want a reason to make some books, to have to stretch a bit.

One of my reference points is this piece by Claude Horstmann-
you engage with it by moving your body to get the light right so that you can read the text. Similarly in a book you not only have to turn the page but might have to have the page at the right angle to read it - a motion that quickly becomes automatic.

Such wonderful books have been made already. Here are a few, among pictures of the street itself -
I feel I have a long way to go with this - and that it will indeed stretch me. Several friends from the bookarts course are also taking part.

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