I’m really excited to be teaching an experimental book studio this fall at Purchase College.
Experimental Book traces the development of the artist’s book through the twentieth-century and beyond. This interdisciplinary Art + Design studio course asks highly motivated students to consider the future of the book and expand the boundaries of the traditional codex through provocative studio exercises and projects.
The class will benefit from critical readings, site visits to important book collections, notable guest critics and a collaborative, hands-on studio atmosphere.
Students will help shape the book’s radical trajectory into the twenty-first century by producing their own book works. Of particular interest will be the physicality of the book as it evolves in the digital space, including print-on-demand, publish-on-demand, book scanning, book videos and books-in-browsers.
Working with noted artist and creative director Paul Soulellis, the studio will engage in thematic exercises to explore narrative structure, form, chance, word and image, digital vs. print technologies, photography, typography and production, as well as audience and performance.
Each student will develop a final book project and participate in a collaboratively-designed studio exhibition.
Paul Soulellis (Soulellis.com) is a New York-based artist and creative director, maintaining his studio in Long Island City. His book works explore place, image and identity.
New work: Chancebooks (Paul Soulellis, 2013) is a publishing-on-demand experiment using Wikipedia and chance operations. Each Chancebook is a one-of-a-kind collection of up to 500 randomly pulled articles from Wikipedia. The selection and sequence of content is generated in real-time as the artist repeatedly clicks the “random article” button that appears on all Wikipedia pages and individually adds each page to the book. The total number of articles is determined by first pulling a random number (1–500) at random.org.
The title is determined by the artist from the list of article titles.
Only one copy of each Chancebook exists, printed on-demand and delivered to the artist. The book’s design is automated and determined by the print-on-demand service. Included within each book are the date of creation, the location of the artist and the exact time and duration of the content generation.
Chancebook #1 (Why Does It Hurt So Bad) was created at 2:29pm on 26 March 2013 and delivered to me 29 March 2013.
Chancebook #1, part of ongoing series
26 March 2013 (Why Does It Hurt So Bad)
Edition of 1
5.5 in. x 8.5 in.
The Ice Break
Santa María Coyotepec
Amos K. Hadley
Liberty Hill Schoolhouse (Gainesville, Florida)
Pratap Singh Kairon
USNS Gordon (T-AKR-296)
Shooting at the 1908 Summer Olympics – Men’s double-shot running deer
Fuzzy Duck (band)
The Legion of Doom (mash up group)
Nottingham Concert Band
Sun WorkShop TeamWare
Judo at the 2011 Pan American Games – Men’s 81 kg
Why Does It Hurt So Bad
Francisco de Figueroa
William Pelham (bookseller)
Antonio Enrique Lussón Batlle
Frederick Bligh Bond
2013 Women’s EuroHockey Nations Championship
Central African Republic parliamentary election, 1964
Lake Chelan AVA
2000 Purdue Boilermakers football team
Ucchan Nanchan no Honō no Challenge: Denryū Ira Ira Bō
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.
“Apparition of a distance, however near it may be” (2013) is an ongoing collection of found images that portray Google Books employees physically interacting with books inside the digital space of the book scanner. The workers touching the book objects remain frozen in a certain here and now.
I’ll launch “Apparition…” at the LA Art Book Fair at the Geffen Contemporary at MoCA, Los Angeles, next week (January 31–February 3).
“Apparition of a distance, however near it may be”
8.5 in. x 11 in.
42 pages, self-cover
Digital color print-on-demand
- 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.
Offprint Paris in the glass court at l’Ecole des Beaux Arts
Jonathan Lewis, Wil van Iersel, Andreas Schmidt and Elisabeth Tonnard of ABC.
I’m back from Paris. A week to meet with my artists’ cooperative, present new work at Offprint Paris and remember how much I love this city.
My second art book fair, and I certainly felt anxious. It’s a set-up for vulnerability: bring your work and display it on a table in a grand space for some of the photobook world’s most prominent personalities to take a look. Curators, critics, photographers, artists, editors—as well as my own peers—are there to judge, buy, make deals and get a sense of what’s happening right now. It can be a supportive environment, too—there were encouraging words and beautiful chance encounters (with Richard Kostelanetz, particularly). It’s a humbling experience. I’m not used to this kind of public display. And as a way of measuring success, selling “stuff” makes me tremendously uncomfortable.
I found myself asking the same questions each day, and they linger with me here in NYC. Why am I here? Is this the right audience for my work? Am I any good at this?
Uncertainty and doubt. Unfamiliar territory. I’m playing out many of the ideas that I wrote about in Design Humility, for The Manual.
I love the work that I’ve generated during the last 18 months. I’m more proud of these books than anything I’ve ever produced for a paying client. That audience question is central to my anxiety, though: who appreciates this work? If Weymouths was a performative work and the audience brought it to life—on-site, in real time—then how do I keep the spirit of that project alive now that the performance is over?
With all of the freedom that comes along with self-publishing, there is also the burden (I would say pleasure, too) of building one’s own audience. And I’ve discovered after two events like this one that the art book fair is the wrong venue for a work like Weymouths. Publishers aren’t interested and no one has the patience to do it justice. It simply doesn’t translate.
Rob Giampietro recently wrote about unbuilding (or incompleteness) as a strategy in art and design. In a way, since I began building my own artist’s practice, I feel like I’ve been unlearning my design career. Many things that I used to measure success in design are less valid now, or have shifted into another direction, like the idea of gaining bigger budgets and better clients, which has been replaced by self-publishing’s economy of means and the value of small, meaningful encounters.
All I can come up with now is my own sense that showing up and participating in the culture of the book is a good tactic for moving forward. A year ago at the NY Art Book Fair I carried around my John Cage book, overwhelmed, showing it to anyone who would take a look. I thought—I could belong to this community, and I vowed to myself that I would somehow participate in next year’s fair. I’m very lucky to have found the tremendous support of new friends who’ve enabled that to happen.
I need to do more of this, and learn.
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
Images from a new project that I’m working on, tentatively called The spectral lens. A collection of images accidentally re-photographed through tissue paper by the Google book scanner, as found in Google Books. Hoping to have this ready as a print-on-demand book for Offprint 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.
I guess maybe I woke up in a cold sweat once
and just had this light bulb go off of doing a book of some sort.
This is how Ed Ruscha, in a 2004 interview, recalled the events that led him to start creating books. The books he started making half a century ago were influential for generations of artists. To honour his contribution to the artist’s book, members of ABC Artists’ Books Cooperative are launching ABCED in Autumn 2012. ABCED is a multi-volume book project created on the occasion of Ed Ruscha’s 75th birthday, consisting of 33 books by 24 artists:
Abstracted by Jonathan Lewis
Aped by EJ Major
Auctioned by Andreas Schmidt
Borrowed by Joachim Schmid
Clicked by Wil van Iersel
Clothed by Deanna Dikeman
Collected by Wil van Iersel
Colored by Tanja Lažetić
Covered by Hermann Zschiegner
Derailed by David Schulz
Disappeared by Joshua Deaner
Distilled by Jonathan Lewis
Dressed by Julie Cook
Exploded by Tanja Lažetić
Freed by Fred Free
Fucked by Andreas Schmidt
Ignored by Jean Keller
Peed by Jochen Friedrich
Pronounced by Erik Benjamins
Pumped by Mishka Henner
Recounted by Elisabeth Tonnard
Replicated by Joachim Schmid
Reworded by Travis Shaffer
Richtered by Mishka Henner
Rorschached by Andreas Schmidt
Sampled by Jonathan Lewis
Scarred by Burkhard von Harder
Sliced by Heidi Neilson
Stained by Eric Doeringer
Stripped by Paul Soulellis
Uncompleted by Mariken Wessels
Visited by Fred Free
Yellowed by Victor Sira
All books are print on demand, 8×5 inches, softcover, open edition. Books are available individually either from the artists or at blurb.com. A discounted boxed set containing all 33 books will be available from ABC soon.
The series will launch at several art book fairs this month, so if you’re in Amsterdam, London or NYC in the next few weeks look for the ABC table at: