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46 books in a cabinet

Recently, I rolled Library of the Printed Web up Fifth Avenue to CUNY Graduate Center for a presentation at Theorizing the Web 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.

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Books on wires

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.

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Stripped at the Gagosian

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.

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LA, Kansas, NYC

Upcoming:

  • 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.

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Communication Arts

Last summer, Wendy Richmond asked me to be a guest writer for her long-standing Design Culture column in Communication Arts. I was getting ready to leave for England to realize Weymouths for the b-side arts festival (part of the London 2012 Festival), so we agreed that I would think about the assignment during my time there. Soon after the work began it was obvious to me that I would want to write about the performative part of the project, which was new (and difficult) for me.

The result is “The Generosity Echo,” which appears in the total redesigned Jan./Feb. issue of Communication Arts (which also happens to be the 2013 Typography Annual). They’ll post the piece on their site in mid-February and I’ll link to it then.

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Coming up

Some news to share: I’ll be presenting a preview of Weymouths at the Book Live symposium at London South Bank University, 8–9 June 2012. The event “will bring together theorists, researchers and practitioners to stimulate a dialogue across disciplines on the ability of the book to keep up with digital culture and the emergence of new modes of writing, of photographing, of reading, or archiving and of disseminating ‘on the page’ work. The purpose of this conference is to examine the current ‘transforming’ and ‘expanding’ of the book rather than its virtual disintegration.”

Here’s a one-page PDF with a full list of participants and more information.

Also, you can now find a brief description of Weymouths on the newly updated b-side festival site. Weymouths will be installed in Weymouth, England from 27 July through 12 August as part of the Maritime Mix — London2012 Cultural Olympiad by the Sea.

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Spectral archive

For the next several months I’ll be focused on Weymouths, a 12-book project I’ve been commissioned to produce for the 2012 b-side arts festival in the UK. The work will be installed during the summer Olympics in Weymouth, a seaside town in Dorset, England, where the official sailing competitions will take place.

From the project proposal—

Weymouths explores memory, geography and cultural identity through site-specific books that draw upon the linked histories of Weymouth, Dorset (UK) and Weymouth, Massachusetts (USA). Created for the 2012 b-side Multimedia Arts Festival and installed on-site at festival locations, 12 publications will be released to visitors during the 13-day festival. Among the goals for Weymouths is to create moments for rich, page-by-page engagement in the environment for the ambulatory visitor—the printed book as a participatory art project.

The 12 volumes will be produced and presented as reliquaries of collective memory—bound containers holding text, color and imagery. Historical records, lists, archival imagery, on-site photography, tweets, interviews, maps, street names, Google Street View, Wikipedia and other raw source material will be assembled into open, thought-provoking narratives—real and imagined.

Beginning with the 104 citizens of Weymouth, Dorset (UK) who crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 1635 to found Weymouth, Massachusetts (USA), the 12 books will be a celebration of temporal connections, disconnects and other trans-geographic structures that continue to hover between the twin towns, as well as a chance to “re-see” cultural identity in real-time.

Each volume will be produced using a print-on-demand Espresso Book Machine (EBM). Limited editions of 20 (a total of 240 books) will be installed at various festival locations. Each day during the festival a new volume will be revealed and installed, beginning with Vol. #1 on July 30 and ending with Vol. #12 on August 10, 2012. The books will be free to anyone exploring Weymouth during the 13-day period; they will slowly disappear from the installation sites as they are discovered and enjoyed by their new owners. Weymouths will encourage a slow, alternative presentation of time and space for visitors as they explore.

Weymouths is part of an exploration that began with Venetian Suite and continued last year with Memory Palace and 273 Relics for John Cage. Each draws together ideas about memory, place and the image within the contained book form.

Someone recently described Memory Palace as a spectral archive, which I define as traces and histories, memories of or like a ghost, collected and contained. This articulation of my book works appeals to me. The spectral archive favors the forgotten and conjures a shapeless narrative, more liquid than linear. A book of associations, loaded with suggestion and unspecified meaning; a dream tool. A rumination machine. The spectral archive is crafted with specificity, but it’s experienced on the user’s own terms, creatively and without restriction.

I want to produce this work publicly, like I did in Rome. As I generate stuff, even fragments of ideas, I’ll post them here.

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Mixels go to Colorado.

I’m addicted to Khoi Vinh‘s new social collage-making app, Mixel. This is one of a small handful of apps that gives my iPad its reason for being — always on and I don’t even have to think about using it. Something that just lets me use my finger to cut up images and push pixels around feels so natural, but it’s also unlike any creative tool I’ve ever used. It’s intuitive and easy and dream-like; they’re ripe for interpretation.

And the sharing/social/remixing aspect of Mixel just takes it to a whole other place.

I’ve made dozens of collages with Mixel and I love a lot of them. And I’m curious about what would happen if these digital works were to make the jump into the print world.

Soon I’ll find out; a few weeks ago I submitted a few collages to a juried photography exhibit at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center, which was calling for digital works made with mobile devices. The jurors were Brian Clamp of ClampArt in NYC and Chuck Mobley of San Francisco Camerawork and they selected the two car images.

So next week I’m going to review proofs at small (4″ x 6″) and larger (16″ x 24″) sizes and make a decision, get them framed and send them to Denver and maybe fly out for the opening on January 13. The show will be up until February 11.

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The Manual.

“The Manual beautifully chronicles the maturing of design on the web. It will change how you think about your work.”

I’m so pleased to announce that I’ve been asked to write for The Manual, “a new, beautifully crafted journal that takes a fresh look, in print, at design on the web.” It’s published by Andy McMillan, edited by Carolyn Wood and designed by Jez Burrows — and it began as a Kickstarter project!

It’s an honor for me to be in the company of folks like Liz Danzico, Frank ChimeroJeremy KeithDuane King, Ethan MarcotteTiffani Jones Brown, Nina Stössinger and others who have already written or will be writing for future issues. Look for me in issue #3 (early 2012).

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John Cage’s Circle of Influence: October 7–9

Details have been posted for ReViewing Black Mountain College 3 — John Cage’s Circle of Influence, “a 3-day gathering of scholars, performers, and artists presenting ideas and performing works related to John Cage. The weekend program includes music, performances, installations, exhibitions, films and scholarly presentations. Keynote address by Laura Kuhn, Director of the John Cage Trust. Co-sponsored by the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, University of North Carolina at Asheville and the John Cage Trust.”

I’ll be presenting JC273 at John Cage’s Circle of Influence as an installation at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, October 7–9, 2011.

Press releaseschedule and registration.