I just applied to the New Museum‘s NEW INC program, “a shared workspace and professional development program designed to support creative practitioners working in the areas of art, technology, and design.” I’m planning to reboot my design studio in the coming months, and while I think this would be an incredible platform for a new kind of “counterstudio,” if this doesn’t happen, something else will. Currently looking for new ideas, opportunities and scenarios.
NEW INC asked five questions as part of the application. Here are all of my responses, merged into one essay.
I’m experimenting with several themes that I’ve worked with before, like chance, web-to-print, found material and print-on-demand. This is the first time that these particular techniques come together in one piece (LaRossa Mix).
For the show, I decided to create a score for a chance-generated web-to-print publication. I started with a set of instructions that draws from eight types of web archive material (Google images, maps, earth and street view, wikipedia, twitter, Project Gutenberg and Getty Images). Using random.org, I determined that there should be ten content objects in a particular stepped order. The process is based (very loosely) on John Cage’s Williams Mix (1951–53).
Then I chance determined a single word using random.org (the number 14 yielded the letter N) and dictionary.com (“non-equalizing”). From there, a series of numbers, coordinates, words and other search terms worked in jumping chain reaction to generate all of the content. The whole series is embedded in the design of the piece.
For Step 8 I got to Robert Louis Stevenson’s short story “Providence and the Guitar” (1878) in Project Gutenberg (after this tweet [Step 6] took me to “Foxy Lady” in Providence, RI in Google street view [Step 7]). The entire public domain text is set in default cut-and-paste text (9/10.8 Times New Roman), which also determined the size of the piece (broadsheet, 8 pages).
I will print 150 on newsprint and 100 will be placed in a pile in the gallery show, to be taken. The opening is April 12 at 7pm.
The New Yorker’s Photo Booth blog says my Las Meninas project is one of their twelve reasons to visit the NY Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1 this weekend. Happy and honored to be mentioned in good company with Elisabeth Tonnard, Erik van der Wejde, Gordon Matta-Clark, Robert Mapplethorpe and others.
Come find me at table #Q47! Or purchase Las Meninas right here. Half of the edition has already sold.
Friday, September 20, 12–7pm
Saturday, September 21, 11–9pm
Sunday, September 22, 11–7pm (I will only be there from 11–2pm on Sunday)
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.
I developed this collection of photographs earlier this year and struggled with the publication format. The images are interior views from Google Street View and depict the photographer and/or the camera’s reflection in mirror or glass. I ordered print-on-demand books from Blurb in several formats, trying different sizes and papers, but nothing felt right.
Finally, I’m self-publishing the 17 images as Las Meninas, a 32-page newsprint tabloid publication, nesting pages (edition of 50). Printed by Newspaper Club. I’m satisfied with the results. The format seems to fit the material perfectly.
Las Meninas will be available for purchase at Printed Matter’s 2013 NY Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1 (19–22 September). Look for me at the ABC/Library of the Printed Web table.
Digital newsprint (print-on-demand)
Edition of 50
Tabloid (289 mm x 380 mm)
View the entire publication on Flickr.
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
Today I read “Iceland,” an essay by Eileen Myles. It functions as a sort of introduction to The Importance of Being Iceland, her collection of essays organized into seven sections—Art Essays, People, Talks, Travel, Body, Moving Pictures and Blogs.
I’m not so familiar with Myles, who is a poet. I owe my discovery to Kenneth Goldsmith, who tweeted this.
— Kenneth Goldsmith (@kg_ubu) April 11, 2013
That was enough for me to find out more about Eileen Myles.
Her writing feels familiar. It’s smart, which she describes this way—
[…] For all these reasons (i.e., sentimental attachments to the past) working class intellectuals like big words and their sentence formation is excessively ornate. It’s what they think of as “smart.” Pomposity. It’s an embarrassing condition of being unsophisticated and not knowing what is truly smart which is simplicity and modernism; certainly it was twenty years ago when I learned to write.
Her “Iceland” voice is like this: conversational, simple, modern, but packed. I was immediately inspired. Reading Eileen Myles’ “Iceland” today was the start of something for me. A trigger. She writes about two trips to Iceland and hooks ideas and places and people together through small anecdotes, from Roni Horn to lesbian community to melancholy to waterfalls to epic poetry singing. I listened in on her thoughts in real time, one fragment leading to another.
[…] I’m not sure if I’m telling a story or unveiling my mania.
All in the space of 36 pages, plus one photograph. All the while, the stories framing Iceland. Or rather, Iceland as her frame. Iceland as an idea, to get at other things. Poetry, language, voice.
I don’t know what the importance of being Iceland is yet. I’ll finish the book. All of this in preparation for my own travel to Iceland. I’m going there this summer for 2.5 months.
I’ll be with several other artists at Nes, a small artist’s residency in the tiny seaside village of Skagaströnd, in northern Iceland, from July 1 through mid-September. Continuous daylight! For the residency, which is part of a special “Summer We Go Public” initiative of performance/public art in the town, I’ve proposed a book project.
I’m calling this performative book project Skagabók. The boundaries are loose. I’ve defined only two parameters. Wikipedia says that the fishing village of Skagaströnd has 530 inhabitants, so my book will have 530 pages. For two months I’ll make the book, which will be about the place. A flat-topped mountain, Spákonufell, is the backdrop for the town. It’s featured in a 10th-century Icelandic saga as a place where Þórdís, a soothsayer, walked every day, combing her hair. She left a treasure on the mountain, it seems.
In the last two weeks of the residency (early September) I’ll somehow install the 530 pages of Skagabók in the town, and give them all away. The work will be absorbed back into the place.
More about Skagabók later.
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.
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.