This book is finished. I’m giving most of the edition of 50 away to people in Skagaströnd this week. It feels so good to hand the object over, to pass it on, to be able to leave it behind.
The experience is similar to what happened with Weymouths, but 530 is different for a few reasons. I created this work on-site, in and around the chance encounters with people in town, so there’s already a familiarity with the work (and me), and certain expectations.
Also, 530 is much more accessible. The entire work is embodied in a single book, and easily communicated. The power of the object. With Weymouths, I could only give away parts. And the mass and expense of the project—12 books in a custom-made box—meant that very few people were able to fully encounter Weymouths. Of course, Weymouths wasn’t really about that total experience—it was more about the value of the ephemeral encounter, conversations, fragments, a glimpse.
530 is a complete poetic work. A place-based book work that serves as a particular expression of my experience with this place. It works as a solid brick of connected encounters that can be recreated or re-imagined by the reader, or not, in any number of ways. Framed like this, I can easily hand over the object-based work and leave the rest up to the recipient, and this feels very satisfying.
The final 39 movement-parts of 530 (Sá veldur sem á heldur), written as a score and ordered by chance:
1 Navigation. 2 Depths. 3 Take three, three cards. 4 1815. 5 Bank sea hermit. 6 The box is a battery. 7 Quota. 8 Light. 9 Fiskisúpa. 10 Island. 11 Einbúi. 12 Outlaws. 13 ____________________. 14 Yeah, we are just. 15 Earth. 16 Just in front of me. 17 Mayor. 18 Hafrún. 19 Mirror. 20 Town. 21 Water. 22 Back to God’s Country. 23 We have our families. 24 Fjords, on the sea. 25 Scientist. 26 Bensín. 27 We have our connections. 28 Those transparencies. 29 1964. 30 Horse. 31 Strong. 32 Old friendship ties. 33 Þórdís. 34 Self. 35 530. 36 There’s one bird. 37 Mountain. 38 Rabbarbarabaka. 39 Grandfather.
On Monday Didier and I went aboard the Hafrún fishing boat for an all-day trip. Captain Jóhann Sigurjónsson and his three-person crew generously let us get in the way while they trawled from 6am until 3pm. They brought back six tons of fish, which was considered a light catch. It was extreme and harrowing and beautiful and I came away knowing that any deeper understanding of Skagaströnd had to account for this kind of work, the grueling routine of the fishermen who sustain the town. I’d suspected this but my appreciation for the tedious process of hunting, netting, trawling, capturing, killing, gutting and then unloading the fish back at the dock became physical and real and graphic.
530—Skagaströnd’s population, according to Wikipedia—was one of the only concepts I brought with me, and I’d decided early on that this would be the page count for the work. Both arbitrary and specific, having something to do with reality, but certainly no longer accurate. The mayor told me the actual population is more like 506.
In July I’d photographed this old boat sitting in the harbor—made in the Netherlands in 1955 from the steel of melted German U-boats, and one of the oldest trawlers in Iceland—and later realized, while looking at the photos, that it carried this same number, 530. And on Monday, in the middle of the trip in the Greenland Sea, as I was violently ill for hours off the side of that same boat, the physicality of the experience brought on some kind of clarity (or cloudy haze?), enough for me to understand that 530 had to be the title of the work. A random, specific number that embodies the town and connects its identity to this charged vessel that sits in the harbor—to me and my experiences here and the book itself.
The weight of the work.
So 530 it is. The full title is 530 (Sá veldur sem á heldur). It’s A5 size, 530 pages, color, with an inside cover and separate cover wrap with front and back folds. The edition of 50 prints at Svansprent in Reykjavík during the next week and I’ll pick them up on 30 August, and bring them back to Skagaströnd for book encounters.
The book encounters will happen 4–7 September at the country-western bar, the gas station, the café and the library (more details to come).
I’ll present Library of the Printed Web at The Book Affair, at the opening of the 55th Venice Biennale, 29–31 May. I’ll have (most of) the collection with me in a specially constructed wood box (my mobile device), and a small selection of items will be available for purchase. I’ve designed a print-on-demand catalogue of the entire inventory and this will be also be available for purchase at the fair, as well as online (coming soon).
A talk is planned for Thursday 30 May, 12pm.
The presentation will include over 50 book works (and zines, postcards, etc.) by 30+ artists, including Penelope Umbrico, Joachim Schmid, David Horvitz, Fraser Clark, Mishka Henner, Guthrie Lonergan, Lauren Thorson, Clement Valla, Elisabeth Tonnard, Karolis Kosas, Benjamin Shaykin, Jason Huff, Silvio Lorusso, Stephanie Syjuco, Federico Antonini, Jonathan Lewis, Andreas Schmidt, Doug Rickard, Heidi Neilson, John Zissovici and many others.
As Library of the Printed Web grows, I intend to keep the collection focused on self-published works. Many items coming to Venice are rare or one-of-a-kind.
The Book Affair
S. Lorenzo-Castello 5065
29–31 May 2013
Unlike the online experience of art (fast, ephemeral), Library of the Printed Web presents itself as a slow scene—a tableau vivant of found photography and texts from the web. The components—table, shelves, books—feel familiar because we used to spend a lot of time in physical bookstores, and indeed, the comment from just about everyone who approached the table was “are these for sale?”
LotPW contains flip-flop work derived from Flickr, Google Maps, Gmail, Wikipedia and other online repositories of content. The installation of the collection itself is an experiment that plays with expectations about consumption, entertainment and ownership. The books aren’t for sale, and the presentation is slowed-down to the confines of real-time and physical space. The installation is simple, accessible and deliberate; it can’t be “saved for later.” Someone even commented that “books in a wooden box” was a shocking idea, in the context of a web/theory conference. Containing the books within a specially constructed piece of wheeled furniture (a mobile device) is critical; the collection is pushed to the scene and the books are revealed from within the rough cabinet for examination, drawing out the physicality and substance of the material in its presentation.
This focus on the physical is not because I’m interested in some kind of nostalgic idea about what the book used to be. I’m not trying to access something “lost” or better than what’s available online.
Rather, with a group of people spatiotemporally engaged around a collection of web content, each work is able to present its own concept of itself. In this context, the individual book seems less about the web (or less about “webby” qualities) and more about the artist and the physical idea/action at hand (capturing, grabbing, collecting, archiving). And yet, the only thread that connects these 46 works is the web (specifically, the search engine). Once again, the physical book is performative. It acts as a container for an idea, and the printed page both frames its presentation and presents its interface. Does it sound like a reinvention of the book, of sorts? It kind of felt that way. It certainly felt fresh.
There was intense interest in some items more than others. Particularly—
American Psycho by Jason Huff and Mimi Cabell
AutoSummarize by Jason Huff
Occupy Wall Street by Ether-Press
My Apparition of a distance, however near it may be
Other People’s Photographs by Joachim Schmid
Postcards from Google Earth by Clement Valla
Here’s the full inventory, with links to the artists’ websites.
Meanwhile, the collection has already been referenced in the spring exhibition at the Centre des Livres d’Artistes in Saint-Yrieix-la-Perche, France (PDF). I hope to present Library of the Printed Web again soon, at another venue, along with a talk about the emerging web-to-print-based practice.
There’s Stripped hanging at the Ed Ruscha, Books & Co. show at Gagosian Gallery. The opening was packed and I was happy to see so many friends turn out. This little print-on-demand book that I made in just a few days ended up surrounded by a massive production, and I’m still not entirely sure how it happened. At any rate, it was an honor to be there and see this massive body of work by over a hundred artists connected in time and space by the presence of Mr. Ruscha himself.
The show itself is epic and worth a visit (through April 27, 2013).
Top image—Gagosian Gallery.
On my way home from Weymouth last summer I met up with Andreas and Jonathan in London, who encouraged me to make a quick contribution to ABC‘s first collaborative project, ABCED—a set of books inspired by Ed Ruscha’s work, on the occasion of his 75th birthday in December 2012. (ABC + ED = ABCED.)
My book is Stripped (Sixty-Six Sunsets Stripped), a work that reinterprets Ruscha’s classic Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966) with a Google image search of the word sunset. The book follows Ed’s layout and the total length of the pages is 25 feet (as was his work, which folded out into one long strip).
Fast forward to March 2013. After several book fairs and various exhibitions, our little print-on-demand box of books will be included in “Ed Ruscha / Books & Co.,” a show of book works by Ed Ruscha and many artists influenced by him. The exhibition opens March 5 at Gagosian Gallery on Madison Avenue. Stripped will be one of ten books featured from the set.
Stripped is available for purchase at Blurb.
Library of the Printed Web is a collection of works by artists who use screen capture, image grab, site scrape and search query to create printed matter from content found on the web. LotPW includes self-published artists’ books, photo books, texts and other print works gathered around the casual concept of “search, compile and publish.”
Artists featured in LotPW drive through vast landscapes of data to collect and transform digital information, visual and otherwise, into analog experience; every work in the collection is a printed expression of search engine pattern discovery. Many of the works in LotPW share common production and publishing techniques (i.e., print-on-demand), even as the content itself varies widely.
I’ve assembled this set of materials because I see evidence of a strong, emerging web-to-print-based artistic practice based on the search engine and other algorithmic operations; as this view matures, the inventory of LotPW may grow to reflect new concepts and methodologies.
Rather than draw boundaries or define a new aesthetic with LotPW, I posit this presentation of printed artifacts as a reference tool for studying shifting relationships between the web (as culture), the artist (as archivist) and print publishing (as a new/old self-serve schema for expressing the archive).
Library of the Printed Web exists both as a physical collection of book works and as an online representation of these works. The permanent collection is based in Long Island City, NY and includes one copy of each item in the inventory, except where noted. LotPW will launch as a table-top presentation at Theorizing the Web, CUNY Graduate Center, 1–2 March 2013.
Fathom Information Design
Daniel C. Howe
- I’ll launch “Apparition of a distance, however near it may be” at Printed Matter’s first annual LA Art Book Fair at the Geffen Contemporary at MoCA, Los Angeles. Look for me at the ABC Artists’ Books Cooperative table (January 31–February 3).
- Several of my books will be featured in “A Fair,” an exhibition curated by Travis Shaffer at the University of Kansas Art + Design Gallery, Lawrence, KS (January 22–February 15).
- Stripped will be featured as part of the ABCED project at Gagosian Gallery, 980 Madison, NYC in “Ed Ruscha: Books & Co.” (March 5–April 27).
Progress photo of the Kansas installation by Travis Shaffer.
I’m launching The Spectral Lens (Twenty-Six Stories from the Book Machine) at Offprint Paris next week. I’ll be there with ABC Artists’ Books Cooperative and there’s a book signing on Thursday at 5pm.
15–18 November 2012
École des Beaux-Arts
14 Rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris
Stripped includes the first sixty-six sunsets found in a Google image search, stripped of color (and detail), while metadata found in the titles of the images are assembled as a sort of found text.