Artist Books 3.0

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A number of issues have been raised in the course of working over Tom Sowden's original question, and in some cases a line of discussion has been felt to lead to fruitless contorversy or to have been intellectually exhausted. I don't think so. I fancy my reading in the scholarship of the book and relared topics is decent, and I have not encountered any attempt to bring together and thoroughly explore the state of scholarship and consensus regarding the artists book. Among the topics from which we might benefit by a gathering of current theory are the social importance and function of the book, intention in art (the Duchamp question) communication theory (linguistics, cognitiv psychology) and communication in the visual arts, and the problem of reproduction (Benjamin, whose aura/mechanical reproduction/mass art issue has been reformulated as a problem of digital reproduction and distribution). My question: can we start to assemble a bibliography here? Who knows what has already been done on these and other subjects relating to theorizing the artists book?

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Congratulations for trying to bring it all together Charles. I think you are on the right track in trying to both broaden the scope of the discussion and tighten its focus. I look forward to seeing how it develops.
Good question. Recent research I assume you mean?

The obvious one is Joanna Drucker's book, but thats not very recent anymore.
Yes, recent like since the 80s, which would cover Drucker. I don't think we have much control of the things that interest Drucker, although her books on art more generally are of help. What I think we need is a gathering of references to work and thought going on relevant to but outside the small field of artists books. It's not that one couldn't find that oneself, though it would be onerous, but that having it together cvontextualizes what we're doing. I discovered the benefits of this when I tried to set up a show based on something I'd written on "Four Traditions In the Book Arts" and I realized I'd never seen a show which actually curated all four of these together. Shows are always of just one sort and you aren't explicitly invited to contemplate where what you're seeing fits into a bigger picture. Maybe I haven't seen enough shows. Maybe I'm not on top of the literature, either?
What 4 traditions did you write about?
Hi Abigail -- you can read a draft of the paper on my website in the Odds and Ends section -- simply put I identified a continuum running from fine printing at one end to 3D at the other. In between were what I was calling the constructed book, with affinities to 3D but unwilling to give up pages and sequentiality, and a fourth tradition with affinities to fine printing but seeking relief from its constraints. (The last is what I do.) I theorize this, with some help, as differences in relation to the Modernist idea of craft. Crudely, the fine printing end says what art? it's all craft and the 3D end says the opposite. But this is too crude. And of course, the analysis leaves out altered books and all sorts of other modes. It's not a comprehensive theory, just an attempt to bring to terms a certain venerable and incorrigible line of discussion.
thanks Charles, ill try to find some time to have a look and read this.
My 'Letters to Maria-Theresa' project; there are 15 of these so far, details my theories on Art, Artist books,etc.
Aard Press, c 2005 to date. Dawn Redwood


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