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Definition of the Artist's Book; What is a Book; BSO's (Book Shaped Objects); Art vs. Craft

A Discussion held on the Book_Arts-L listserv
March 1998

Note: This discussion is also in the listserv archive as individual postings. Individual posting have not been edited, only compiled into one file. Non related postings were removed from this.


From: Peter Verheyen verheyen__at__philobiblon.com
Subject: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)

We've had this debate before, but I'd like to pose this question again. Why, do I want to do this to myself again, well I'm giving a presentation to an Art History class on "artists books" and people have been clamoring for a definition.

What I'd like is for people to think about this subject and submit a concise (1 paragraph) definition. I'll select a few of these and put them into a handout. If there's enough interest I may put them together as a web file and post on the Book Arts Web.

Thanks for your help.

Peter

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Peter Verheyen, Listowner: Book_Arts-L 315.443.9937 <wk> 315.443.9510 <fax> mailto:verheyen__at__philobiblon.com
http://www.dreamscape.com/pdverhey

 

From: Darryl Baird darrylb__at__AIRMAIL.NET
Organization: http://web2.airmail.net/darrylb
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)

My definition.

An artists book is a harmonious composite of design, form, content, and context with no one area dominating or responsible for the bulk of intended message(s). The overlapping of form (materials) and content (message) is quite often the major vehicle for creative expression.

--Darryl Baird

 

From: Leda Black LMB__at__MATH.AMS.ORG
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)

I think you have to distinguish between a good artist's book and just an artist's book. Quality is a different matter than simple definition. The definition of an artist's book is: a book made by an artist. Now you can distinguish between different kinds of artist's books, like: Finely printed, xeroxed, with writing, without writing, etc. All that "harmonious union of text and image etc." stuff is evaluation. --L. Black, imp.

 

From: R Starr rstarr__at__UMBC2.UMBC.EDU
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)

To regress (digress): what is an artist? Some time ago I think the list dealt with the equally complex issue of what a book is. Is a book something to be read. and, if so, how do we define "read"? Yhus, the regress (digress) could be infinite.

R*

On Wed, 4 Mar 1998, Leda Black wrote:

> ...definition of an artist's book is: a book made by an artist.

 

From: Ray Bliss Rich r_rich__at__conknet.com
Organization: Meditations on Paper
Subject: Re: Definition--Artists Book

There's got to be cultures that are not so hung up on definitions... Were I to feel the need to define, I'd qualify my statement, saying that "There is no absolute definition, but to me an artist's book is..."

Or... if I had gotten some general consensus from a group of those who are intimately involved with the thing, I'd say "The general consensus of those intimately involved with... is..."

Guess that's what the original poster is looking for here... some sort of consensus... or common elements... from the group...

-- Ray Bliss Rich, artist -------------------------- http://www.conknet.com/~r_rich

 

From: Janice Esther Westley Braun jbraun__at__MILLS.EDU
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)

I have given this a great deal of consideration and I think that any definition is problematic. I am only able to answer the question with more difficult questions:

What is a book? What is art (and/or what is an artist)?

Perhaps for teaching purposes, it is best to show various examples that fulfill the many definitions that you will no doubt receive from this query.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Janice Braun Special Collections Curator F.W. Olin Library, Mills College jbraun__at__mills.edu
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

 

From: Richard Miller rmiller__at__PETERBORO.NET
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)
To: BOOK_ARTS-L__at__LISTSERV.SYR.EDU

Peter:

Are you a masochist? How's this:

"Artists book" is a [controversial term given to] book or book-like object in which the primary interest, or emphasis, is visual rather than textual.

You could go on to say that the controversy arises out of the fact that some feel strongly that a book, to be considered a book, must behave in all respects like a book. Otherwise it's not a book but something else, such as sculpture. There is also some confusion having to do with the fact that artists (ie: usually visual artists who have made their reputation in fields not associated with the book) have, in the past, decorated books, or even created books which have been called artists books while remaining fairly traditional in concept. We also have "book artists" who sometimes create visually beautiful, or conceptually rich works which still are recognizable without question as books. The problem (for the purists), however, is when a work is created which ignores -- or defies -- one or more aspects of the traditional book, such as the pages being glued, nailed, or otherwise fastened together so that the book will not open, or conversely -- as in the forthcoming Art of the Book '98 exhibition organized by CBBAG -- where a work consists of a series of "pages" strung on a line with closepins rather than being "bound" in the traditional sense.

I have no doubt that, in time, the controversy will abate when people realize that objects (or sculpture) which have been inspired by, or heavily influenced by "the fetish-object known as book" (to quote Stan Bevington), can be considered "artists books" even though they don't conform in all respects to some ten-point checklist of what makes a traditional book.

Humbly submitted (ie: my two cents worth), Richard.

---------------------------------------- Richard Miller <rmiller__at__peterboro.net>

The Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild website: http://kawartha.net/~rmiller/cbbag/CBBAGhome.html

 

From: leil lucy alexander leilx__at__OLYMPUS.NET
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)
To: BOOK_ARTS-L__at__LISTSERV.SYR.EDU

I tell people when they ask me what an artist's book is that I've never met two artists who agree on a definition, but for me, as an artist, it means a book or book-like object in which content is not limited to words alone--it is expressed in every aspect of the book or object from the words and images to the structure and type and printing method. ideally, that is. sometimes it isn't quite so.

I think this is a fascinating question, although I get tired of it. it gets very frustrating in an academic setting, especially if you are having lots of artists come through and talk about their work. in England (at the MA in Book Arts program), there were times when I wanted to scream and throw things at them!

leil (or Camellia El-Antably)

 

From: charles alexander chax__at__THERIVER.COM
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)

At 07:25 PM 3/4/98 -0400, you wrote: >Peter: > >Are you a masochist? How's this: > >"Artists book" is a [controversial term given to] book or book-like object >in which the primary interest, or emphasis, is visual rather than textual.

No, this won't work either. There are plenty of 'artists' books' where it is precisely the textual which is of primary interest. Typographical artists' books, and, anyway, is typography textual or visual -- isn't it both?

charles

 

From: Jennifer Vignone opus__at__TIAC.NET
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)
To: BOOK_ARTS-L__at__LISTSERV.SYR.EDU

Though I hate the notion of a definition, since by defining what an artist's book is, may lead to excluding SOMETHING which, upon reading the definition, would work to eliminate SOMEONE who would have perhaps made an artist's book (or books) which would have been an enriching and tremendous addition to the realm of art itself, not just artist's books...that said, what drew me to making books and leaving traditional painting (to reincorporate painting and everything else) behind was the magic of the book...the exploration of the structure, the surprise a book has to offer--in its traditional sense--and in its redefined (by an artist, or not just artists) manifestation. Artist's books are little worlds--secrets almost--even when they are huge in structure--they are intimate and bold--and possess the ability to incorporate so many different forms of media in a uniquely revisited way.

Having said that, I realize how hard it is to define, and I would rather just say I make them, whatever they are, and however they evolve.

Jennifer

 

From: Pat Baldwin patbooks__at__PRIMENET.COM
Subject: Artists book

Ohhhhhhh Peter! I feel a can of worms coming on!

Pat

 

From: Angela Moll am45__at__CORNELL.EDU
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)
To: BOOK_ARTS-L__at__LISTSERV.SYR.EDU

What about a book which is itself the thing to be communicated, not a support for conveying something other than itself. Even though it may seem to be just a rewording of the term to be defined, I do feel important to stress the fact that in an artist-book the book is the art, not just a possible enabling factor for time delayed (mass)communication.

Angela

 

From: Indigo Som indigos__at__SIRIUS.COM
Subject: bookness

Although I think the word "bookness" is really hilarious, it does have... er, usefulness, hee hee...

Bookness may include, or be evoked by, any or all (or none?) of the following: the idea of the page, text of any kind, images, sequence, binding of any kind or structural *reference* (interpret broadly) to "traditional" or "recognizable" book bindings, materials commonly associated w/ books (i.e. bookcloth, headbands &c.), a story, interactivity (so that the viewer can also be called a reader, as of a book), having been made by a person who usually makes books, something simply being called a book (treading gingerly on thin ice here...)

I think someone once said a scroll doesn't have bookness. I disagree heartily in the name of all my Chinese ancestors.

I've been making what I call "wall books". Lots of "pages" of silk tacked up on the wall in particular order. Some people look at em & say "quilt" but I've never really made quilts at all. I've made lots of books though. So I get to say it's a book ;)

ok, now i will really go to sleep like i meant to before i was provoked by peter's audacious question!

Indigo Som *** bitchy buddha press *** indigos__at__sirius.com

 

From: "Peter D. Verheyen" verheyen__at__philobiblon.com
Subject: Re: Artists book
To: BOOK_ARTS-L__at__LISTSERV.SYR.EDU

Yeah I know and I'm a masochist too. I have my set ideas which I'm clinging to with increasing fervor and at the same time trying to be open about things. Comes from working with art students. I need to tell a group of students what an "artists book" is. Figured this would be the place to get the broad spectrum.

Distinction I've already seen consistency in is:

artists book vs. livre d'artiste

Now about those BSOs (book shaped objects)... Come on, does anyone seriously believe they're books? (yes, I'm baiting here, but be articulate, and above all, civil). NOTE: This isn't directed at anyone in particular.

Peter

At 08:30 PM 3/4/98 -0700, you wrote: >Ohhhhhhh Peter! I feel a can of worms coming on! > >Pat > >

=================================================
Der Buchbinder als Architekt des Buches baut eine Fassade seiner Zeit. Edwin Redslob
Peter D. Verheyen
mailto:verheyen__at__philobiblon.com
http://www.dreamscape.com/pdverhey

 

From: Richard Miller rmiller__at__PETERBORO.NET
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)
To: BOOK_ARTS-L__at__LISTSERV.SYR.EDU

Charles wrote:

>No, this won't work either. There are plenty of 'artists' books' where it >is precisely the textual which is of primary interest. Typographical >artists' books, and, anyway, is typography textual or visual -- isn't it both?

Here we go further into Pat's can of worms.

For me typography is inherently visual. The whole point is to make the words visable/readable,attractive/whatever. How many printed versions of Poe's "The Raven" exist? The essential difference between them is visual: The typeface chosen, the size of type, the paper, the illustrations (if any), etc. I'm sorry Charles, but while a Typographer can make an artists book, it's primary interest is still visual.

Respectfully, Richard.

---------------------------------------- Richard Miller rmiller__at__peterboro.net

The Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild website: http://kawartha.net/~rmiller/cbbag/CBBAGhome.html

 

From: Michael Morin ba202__at__FREENET.BUFFALO.EDU
Subject: Artists' Books

Artists' Books: I intend, therefor I am.

When Marcel Duchamp installs a urinal in a museum, it is art. If Sophie the plumber installs a urinal in the same museum's lavatory, it's a toilet and nothing more.

Intent is everything. An Artists' book is different from other books simply because it conceived and executed from the beginning as a work of art by its creator. Nothing anyone thinks changes the originial intent of the artist.

Art students should like that. Many others will not.

Any book can be artty, artistic, designed by artists, be about artists or about art... but that isn't what makes a book an artists' book.

I once watched a couple dozen librarians examine 20 or 30 artists' books as part of professional field trip to a major art museum's research library. They seemed to understand the differences between William Blake's Book of Job, The Klemscott Chaucher and Susan King's Women in Cars but the defining moment came when they were shown and asked to inspect and coment on the artists' book entitled _Boundless_. I apologize for not remembering the artist's name, but this book is simply and round book that has a wire spiral binding that completly binds all of the 360 degrees of the books edge. A book with no entry was too much for these librarians. They were not prepared for books as art. It was fun to witness their puzlement. A book made to conceal all. No access is kryptonite to librarins. In short, it really bugged a few of them.

Whatever the intent of the artist, acess to the interior was't one of them. In this case intent was everything. Perhaps as it should be.

It may not help your case, but I would tell your students to read and study Willam Blakes life and work. To me, he encompasses much of what I would consider about intent and artists' books. He was published by thrid party only once. His work _The_Grave_ (1813?) was engraved by another line engraver and much of what made Blake, Blake is lost. You can compare the same work as engraved by Blake himself and compare intent and personal vision (or in Blake's case visions!) the intent of is work is clear(er). A good palce to start a conversation. So is Duchamps bronzed ball of string (Philly Museum of Art)

Hope is helps...best regards.

Michael Morin Artist/Librarian

 

From: Donald Farren dfarren__at__CONCENTRIC.NET
Subject: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)

The question is of course amendable to a literature search. But, as a spontaneous reaction to the task of fashioning a definition, my thoughts are:

that it is important to

1. Commit to an apostrophe. We are dealing with "artist's", not "artists".

2. Recognize that the elements to be dealt with are: a. the artist, b. the book, c. the making, and d. the respective relationships among the artist, the book, and the making.

3. Leave undefined "artist" and "book", expecting the maker and the viewer (the person who experiences the book) to decide what those are.

4. Focus on the artist's making rather than on the result. (The viewer controls reaction to the result. The maker can only hope to condition the reaction. Reactions to the result can be ignorant or naive.)

5. Recognize that the artist's making is a temporary process.

6. Recognize that the result of the artist's making is an object, rather than a process. (One could argue that the result is a process. But I think that doing so would unduly stretch the meaning of "book".)

7. Recognize that the artist works (with, within, around, against) pre-existing conventions of bookmaking.

Accordingly, how does the following sound? (I think that succinctness is valuable in definitions, but I think that this definition accommodates the concerns about this subject that have been posted so far on BOOK_ARTS-L in this round.)

"An artist's book is a book made by an artist. In the making of the object, expression by the artist predominates over conventions of bookmaking."

<*>-==--==--==--==--==--==--==-<*>-==--==--==--==--==--==--==-<*>
Donald Farren voice 301.951.9479 email dfarren__at__concentric.net
fax 301.951.3898 4009 Bradley Lane, Chevy Chase, MD 20815 <*>-==--==--==--==--==--==--==-<*>-==--==--==--==--==--==--==-<*>

 

From: Shireen Holman tholman__at__CLARK.NET
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)
To: BOOK_ARTS-L__at__LISTSERV.SYR.EDU

It seems to me that if you have to try to pin down what an artist's book is, it would be a book whose whole entity is intended to be a work of art (as opposed to something that is primarily intended to be a means of communicating non-visual ideas, where the design and structure are subordinate to the communication, even though they may enhance it). I suppose there would always be some works on the borderline between books and artist's books and between artist's books and sculptures. But art is not something that can be neatly divided into categories, which doesn't mean that categories can't be useful if you aren't rigid about them.

***********************************************
Shireen Holman, Printmaker and Book Artist
email: tholman__at__clark.net
http://www.clark.net/pub/tholman/shireen/index.htm
***********************************************

 

From: Karen Sanders karen__at__COMPGEN.COM
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)
To: BOOK_ARTS-L__at__LISTSERV.SYR.EDU

Maybe the difference between an artist'sbook and a book done by an artist is sort of like a print and a packaging label. Both done by artists, both well-crafted, but for a different purpose.

> It seems to me that if you have to try to pin down what an artist's book > is, it would be a book whose whole entity is intended to be a work of art > (as opposed to something that is primarily intended to be a means of > communicating non-visual ideas, where the design and structure are > subordinate to the communication, even though they may enhance it).

 

From: charles alexander chax__at__THERIVER.COM
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)
To: BOOK_ARTS-L__at__LISTSERV.SYR.EDU

>For me typography is inherently visual. The whole point is to make the >words visable/readable,attractive/whatever. How many printed versions of >Poe's "The Raven" exist? The essential difference between them is visual: >The typeface chosen, the size of type, the paper, the illustrations (if >any), etc. I'm sorry Charles, but while a Typographer can make an artists >book, it's primary interest is still visual.

It's perhaps primary, but typography without a distinctive relationship of that typography to the content/meaning of the text at hand, is merely a typographer's hubris, or just bad work, perhaps.

cheers, richard

charles

 

From: Michael Babcock mjb__at__PAMET.COM
Subject: Definition of the Artists Book

Um, sorry, but what is "art"? Talk about regressing to fundamental questions...

It's all a matter of intent. (see Dada, et le objet truve [sp]) Skill sets, craft and presentation aside.

Rather than belabor the vagaries of all the possible definitions of an "artist book" clearly what Peter seeks is simply a concise and articulate description that the layperson can grasp.

How about:

An "artist book" is an assemblage of folios, bound or otherwise, meant to be observed in a sequential fashion, either arbitrary or = predetirmined, and comprised of elements both textual, or pictorial. Construction is often of an importance equal to that of content. Modes of reproduction are variable, as are methods of construction.

Or something like that. What do I know, I'm a designer/job printer?

michael bABCock interrobang letterpress

 

From: Susan King SusanKing__at__COMPUSERVE.COM
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)

-------------------- Begin Original Message --------------------

Message text written by "Book_Arts-L: The list for all the book arts!"

"Perhaps for teaching purposes, it is best to show various examples that fulfill the many definitions that you will no doubt receive from this query."

-------------------- End Original Message --------------------

I have to agree with Janice Braun on this issue. I find the attempt to
define the genre limits the possibilities, especially for art students. How much better to show a variety of books to start a conversation about the issue, rather than presenting a definition or several definitions. Showing what artist's books HAVE been sparks the imagination, especially for art students who deal in realm of the visual.

Susan King Paradise Press

 

From: Sally Jackson serifm__at__FASTLANE.NET
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)

There is an interesting site with a discussion of the definition of a book. The URL is http://www.wam.umd.edu/~dawson/is-it-a-book/

Sally Jackson

 

From: Roberta Lavadour paper__at__OREGONTRAIL.NET
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)

Peter, This process that your post has begun may in itself be defining the Artist's Book. Could it be that that was your intent? I'm interested in the ways the process has mimicked an artist's book...The project begins with a concept which is then explored in various ways, sometimes with conflicting opinions, then held together by a "thread", literal or figurative. Roberta

 

From: Peter Verheyen verheyen__at__philobiblon.com
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)
To: BOOK_ARTS-L__at__LISTSERV.SYR.EDU

The intended audience here are Art History and Museum Studies students in a class about illustration. There is a section on artist's books and this is where the discussion started. People wanted to know what was the difference between a traditional fine binding, an artist's book, and a livre d'artiste. The first and last are easier. It's the one in the middle. I don't even want to get into the subject of art vs. craft though many "fine bindings" are lacking in "art" but superlative craft and many "artists books" superlative in art but a failure in the craft aspect. That's something for another dreary, gray day.

I agree about the examples part thought. It is important to be able to show what is meant> However, I feel one also has to explain it, or at least try to.

For me, the "bookness" aspect is very important. As Richard Miller wrote, "if it looks like a book..." Yes I consider scrolls books. I would have a very hard time considering a round object with a spiral all-around a book however. Maybe book derived art, or a bso, but no, not a book. I think that there needs to be some form of content (text, illus) but then there are many beautiful _blank_ books which display all the other properties of bookness AND art, yet the content is lacking. I think its important not to pigeonhole oursleves into fixed definitions, but at the same time it annoys me to no end to have students in a bookmaking class be told that anything can be a book. Not everything is. That doesn't make it non-art, just not a book.

Peter

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Peter Verheyen, Conservation Librarian 315.443.9937 <wk> 315.443.9510 <fax>
mailto:verheyen__at__philobiblon.com
http://www.dreamscape.com/pdverhey

 

From: Peter Verheyen verheyen__at__philobiblon.com
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)
To: BOOK_ARTS-L__at__LISTSERV.SYR.EDU

That wasn't what I had originally intended, but I'm nt adverse to having it turn into that. The definative explanation of an "artist's book" developed on a listserv... Why not. Actually I was just looking for some reasonably concise definitions of what book artists considered to "artist's books."

Peter

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Peter Verheyen, Conservation Librarian 315.443.9937 <wk> 315.443.9510 <fax>
mailto:verheyen__at__philobiblon.com
http://www.dreamscape.com/pdverhey

 

From: J Laflamme arslibri__at__telusplanet.net
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)

Book as an art ,and an artist's book are two completelly different things. An artist's book can be make by somebody who is not a bookbinder, who does not know the book structure. For him/her a form or an image of a book is used to convey a certain message that is not connected with book as a medium. Someone that makes a book that is perceived as art must be an artist as well as an excellent bookbinder. Book as an art must combine two equaly important elements: an intellectual and artistc message when comes to the design of a cover,and sound structure. In other words the expression and form must melt together. In artist's book, the symbol or an image of a book serves only as an excuse for expressing some other idea. In an artist's book the EXPRESSION is a primary concern. In book that is an art both EXPRESSION ,and STRUCTURE are equaly important. Artist's book? Piece where bookish shapes,objects or book symbols serve as a form of artistic expression.

Ksenia KOpystynska

 

From: "Judith B. Kerman" kerman__at__TARDIS.SVSU.EDU
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)
To: BOOK_ARTS-L__at__LISTSERV.SYR.EDU

Ah, yes, another exercises of the blind men and the elephant... we all, most probably, construct these definitions so that they either (1) reflect our own practices or (2) exclude the practices we dislike.

However, here's mine...

An artist's book is an artwork which explores the nature of "bookness" by the way it combines/exploits structual, visual, tactile and textual elements (or perhaps structural and semantic elements) (or perhaps syntactic and semantic elements) depending on your religious preference... $:-)

_________ |\ /| /________/( |? \ / ?| (________(/(___ |??? \/ ???| /_(________(/__/( | Judy | (______________(/( | Kerman | (Mayapple Press(/( | Saginaw, | (______________(/ \ ? MI ? / \ ?? / http://www.cris.com/~Jkerman   \/

 

From: Nicholas Yeager artifex__at__PIPELINE.COM
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)

An artist's book is an object created to convey ideas and experiences to the "reader" or audience wherein materials are manufactured, manipulated, and assembled to express the concept of the artist. This may result in a sculptural machine that works like a conventional book, or it may result in two-dimensional material that can be experienced in a moment. That the artist chooses "bookness" as their vehicle for delivering the message, indicates that there is some relationship to the viewing action being perceived as "reading" and the crafting of the art object.

Peter: After reading what I just wrote, I blame you for making me think about things like: Why is the sky blue? and other imponderables. Thanks for the opportunity to hurt my head.

Nicholas

Nicholas G. Yeager 51 Warren St.#2 NY, NY 10007 212.346.9609 artifex__at__pipeline.com

 

From: Daria dherlihy__at__TIAC.NET
Subject: Bookin' into Books

Dear Peter and Friends of the List:

(Ahem)

An artist's book is a form of art that alludes to traditional book characteristics in one or more ways.

(cringe)

May I add that very soon portable electronic books will be available with electronically "turnable" pages, instant index, etc., the pages seen but not touchable on a liquid crystal screen in a book shape folder, with perhaps all the books written by one author stored on a teeny weenie disc that you can insert from a little storage pocket of discs holding 100's of other "books". Just think, when you go on vacation you can take all your favorite authors, all your favorite museum artworks, all your favorite whatever in your over the shoulder bag. Just remember to bring your little solar panel attachment, or extra battery. Eventually, these will be leather covered, with coptic binding and gold stamping and quickly evolve into artist's books.

Love to all

Lilias

 

From: Leda Black LMB__at__MATH.AMS.ORG
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)
To: BOOK_ARTS-L__at__LISTSERV.SYR.EDU

I Like Mr. Farren's "definition". --L. Black, imp.

 

From: Catherine Kanner penandink__at__earthlink.net
Subject: Re: Definition Artist's Books

Dear All,

Let the definitions begin and end with the Book. Artists have countless venues for expression, yet "we" have chosen Books. This choice originates from love of the form and respect for the power and flexability of the form.

Books communicate.

Whether artists uses the form conventionally, or tweek it one way or the other, intrepretation and inspiration comes from a deep connection to "experience" with books. Artists add depth and breadth to the defination of the form. As with all aspects of art there are those who will push the envelope. But human beings look for meaning everywhere...that is why we make art in the first place.

C. Kanner The Melville Press

 

From: Janice Esther Westley Braun jbraun__at__MILLS.EDU
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists B

With all due respect, I was being mildly facetious when I posed the "what is art" question. Yet, it is clear from this and other discussions that there is no consensus. To date, the boundaries of the form have not been established by scholars, artists, bookbinders, printers, etc. etc. In order to be critical, there is no reason not to "regress" to fundamental questions, particularly when the form has not been codified. There have been some concise articulate definitions here (one or two that I wish I had written), but I think it is a mistake at this point to tell students that an artists' (artist's!!!) book is x,y, and z, with this or that qualification simply because it is easier than explaining that there has been this raging debate for several years. Meanwhile, artists make books, printers make art objects, people create electronic visual media that they call on-line artist(')s(') books, and life goes on. Peter, I don't think there will be a definitive answer until there is more critical thought put into the matter. I think it is important to tell students that this is a complex and confusing matter with its own vocabulary (I still can't bring myself to say the word "bookness") and ongoing evolution. There are still obvious features that pointed out that make a book, more or less, a trade book, a fine press book, a livre d'artiste, etc. BTW, I have an exhibition here right now with the subtitle: The fine press artists' book (not my term, so don't bother to flame me). The catalog contains an excellent short essay by Gary Young on the definition of what exactly that means..... It's anarchy, we love it. Back to lurking. p.s. michael babcock, i do agree that intent is an important element.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Janice Braun Special Collections Curator Olin Library, Mills College jbraun__at__mills.edu
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

 

From: Richard Miller rmiller__at__PETERBORO.NET
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)
To: BOOK_ARTS-L__at__LISTSERV.SYR.EDU

I wrote:

>>... while a Typographer can make an artists >>book, it's primary interest is still visual.

and Charles replied:

>It's perhaps primary, but typography without a distinctive relationship of >that typography to the content/meaning of the text at hand, is merely a >typographer's hubris, or just bad work, perhaps.

I don't disagree with you Charles, in fact, I do agree. As a professional (commercial) book designer/typographer for 25 years, and a private (letterpress) printer for almost as long, I have the utmost respect for the text when I'm "doing my thing".

However, referring back to my proposed definition of "artists book" (or artist's book), I said:

> "Artists book" is a ... book or book-like object in which the primary >interest, > or emphasis, is visual rather than textual.

I still think this covers, rather succinctly, all forms of books -- or book-like objects (but not book-shaped objects) -- made by artists, typographers, printmakers, etc, as long as the inherent ideals of "bookness" are present. Stray too far from the ideals and the work ceases to be a book and becomes something else.

I think it should also be pointed out that a work can be *both* a book (ie: a traditional book) and an artist's book, for example when a previously unpublished text has professional and artistic care lavished upon the editing, the typesetting, the illustrations (if any), the printing, the binding, etc.

For me, the operative word in my definition is "primary", even if the relationship between visual/textual is only 51/49.

Oh hell: you say pot -ay- toe, I say pot -ah- toe, let's call the whole thing off ;-)

Love to all, Richard.

---------------------------------------- Richard Miller rmiller__at__peterboro.net
The Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild website: http://kawartha.net/~rmiller/cbbag/CBBAGhome.html

 

From: Richard Miller rmiller__at__PETERBORO.NET
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)
To: BOOK_ARTS-L__at__LISTSERV.SYR.EDU

Ksenia KOpystynska (or J Laflamme) wrote:

>Book as an art ,and an artist's book are two completelly different >things. ...

Not necessarily. Also,

>Someone that makes a book that is perceived as art must be an artist as >well as an excellent bookbinder. ...

Again, not necessarily.

>... Book as an art must combine two equaly >important elements: an intellectual and artistc message when comes to >the design of a cover,and sound structure. In other words the expression >and form must melt together.

Someone, I think, is being a little hidebound (forgive the pun) here. The artistic/intellectual message must permeate more than the cover (forgive me, but the poster sounds like a traditional binder), and sound structure has nothing to do with it.

>In artist's book, the symbol or an image of a book serves only as an >excuse for expressing some other idea. In an artist's book the >EXPRESSION is a primary concern. ...

Here, I agree, although I would use another word than excuse (such as: a means for expressing...)

>... In book that is an art both EXPRESSION >,and STRUCTURE are equaly important.

Again, nonsense, but you are entitled to your opinion.

Regards, Richard.

---------------------------------------- Richard Miller rmiller__at__peterboro.net
The Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild website: http://kawartha.net/~rmiller/cbbag/CBBAGhome.html

 

From: Richard Miller rmiller__at__PETERBORO.NET
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)
To: BOOK_ARTS-L__at__LISTSERV.SYR.EDU

Judith Kerman wrote:

>An artist's book is an artwork which explores the nature of "bookness" by >the way it combines/exploits structual, visual, tactile and textual >elements (or perhaps structural and semantic elements) (or perhaps >syntactic and semantic elements) depending on your religious preference...

I think you could end it at "bookness". Good one Judy.

Richard.

PS: Isn't this fun ;-)

---------------------------------------- Richard Miller rmiller__at__peterboro.net
The Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild website: http://kawartha.net/~rmiller/cbbag/CBBAGhome.html

 

From: Georgie McNeese gmcneese__at__SURFSOUTH.COM
Subject: (no subject)

Artist book - A booklike structure of at least 100 pages, opened to approximately page 50, spread evenly with a gem from the recently opened can of worms and SLAMMED FORCEFULLY!!!!! until bits of gunk are evenly distributed over the book, the table, and the artist. (Preferrably within splatting distance of the urinal in the museum.) G

 

From: CamilleEon CamilleEon__at__AOL.COM
Subject: De Bait...

Sigh... Some of us choose to work within the (as yet, thankfully BOUNDLESS) Artists/Books can of worms precisely because of the utterly refreshing elusiveness of a set of defining LIMITATIONS.

Reading all these postings is fun, but it also makes me think of what happens to beautiful working dogs (Collies, Irish Setters) when the breed becomes registered and standardized. They become instantly recognizable, and though they retain some beauty and functional traits, but the brains and the heart (which made them so admirable) are gone.

Let's hear it for the ol' "continuously evolving genre".

Melissa Jay Craig Chicago

 

From: Michael Morin ba202__at__FREENET.BUFFALO.EDU
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)
To: BOOK_ARTS-L__at__LISTSERV.SYR.EDU

At 09:04 AM 3/5/98 -0500, you wrote:

>"An artist's book is a book made by an artist. In the making of the >object, expression by the artist predominates over conventions of bookmaking." > > >

"expression by the artist predominates over conventions of bookmaking."

This works for me except one could create an artists' book that conforms to "all other conventions of bookmaking" except intent. If your use of the word "expression" implies intent, then I think were OK. However if if you mean "expression" as a visualization of a creative act, then I'm not sure, but I think your close.

Best regards,

Michael Morin
Celtic Press-Buffalo NY

 

From: Michael Morin ba202__at__FREENET.BUFFALO.EDU
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)
To: BOOK_ARTS-L__at__LISTSERV.SYR.EDU

At 12:11 PM 3/5/98 -0500, you wrote: >After reading what I just wrote, I blame you for making me think about >things like: Why is the sky blue? and other imponderables. Thanks for the >opportunity to hurt my head. > >Nicholas >

Why is the sky blue. That's easy. If it were brown it would be too depressing. It's true. Until Bethlehem Steel closed down the sky in Buffalo was always brown! We already had brown water and purple-green dirt (Trucked in special from Niagara Falls) Ever since EPA and putting a brick in my toilet, everything has been blue sky and sunshine. Blue sky is just good design, and we all know that when we see it, right?

Here to stay..Go Browns!

Michael Morin Celtic Press, Brown-Town NY

 

From: Edith Abeyta mindmatr__at__teleport.com
Organization: Mind Over Matter
Subject: what is a book definition

This is my first time replying to the list but I think the discussion of what is an artists' book is great. My reply is not a definition but a small addition to the discussion. I see most (but not all) artists' books as self contained galleries, each page being a wall and the whole book as being the show. Edith mindmatr__at__swcp

 

From: Michael Morin ba202__at__FREENET.BUFFALO.EDU
Subject: Re: (no subject)
To: BOOK_ARTS-L__at__LISTSERV.SYR.EDU

At 10:07 PM 3/5/98 -0500, you wrote: >Artist book - A booklike structure of at least 100 pages, opened to >approximately page 50, spread evenly with a gem from the recently opened >can of worms and SLAMMED FORCEFULLY!!!!! until bits of gunk are evenly >distributed over the book, the table, and the artist. (Preferrably >within splatting distance of the urinal in the museum.) >G > I hope we're talkin' real worms here. I was talkin' real toilets with real sky blue water in 'em!

L.H.O.O.Q.

Marcel

 

From: Michael Morin ba202__at__FREENET.BUFFALO.EDU
Subject: Re: De Bait...
To: BOOK_ARTS-L__at__LISTSERV.SYR.EDU

At 11:17 PM 3/5/98 EST, you wrote: >Sigh... >Reading all these postings is fun, but it also makes me think of what happens >to beautiful working dogs (Collies, Irish Setters) when the breed becomes >registered and standardized. They become instantly recognizable, and though >they retain some beauty and functional traits, but the brains and the heart >(which made them so admirable) are gone.

Replace the word dog with the word artists. We got to get rid of those berets! Thanks for the insight.

Michael Morin Celtic Press Buffalo NY ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ "One's best work is done in defiance on management!"

 

From: Michael Morin ba202__at__FREENET.BUFFALO.EDU
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)

At 09:08 AM 3/5/98 -0700, you wrote:

>Someone that makes a book that is perceived as art must be an artist as >well as an excellent bookbinder. Book as an art must combine two equaly >important elements: an intellectual and artistc message when comes to >the design of a cover,and sound structure. In other words the expression >and form must melt together.

Why?

>In artist's book, the symbol or an image of a book serves only as an >excuse for expressing some other idea. In an artist's book the >EXPRESSION is a primary concern.

How can you know that?

>Artist's book? Piece where bookish shapes,objects or book symbols serve >as a form of artistic expression.

>Ksenia KOpystynska > I don't wish to offend, but I think this is plain silly. An Artists' Book dosen't have to be made by an expert binder to qualify as an artists' book any more that a painting needs to be well crafted to be a work of art. Craftspersonship is a useful tool or perhaps a goal, but nothing by itself. Don't I love good, well crafted bindings and well made paintings? You bet I do. But Hamlet would still be Hamlet, even if it was written with a nail on a pine board. Gabor Peterdi (sp?) the print professor and Rembrant scholar at Yale once spoke on a panel I went to see about whether prints are equal partners to paintings in terms of ART, The Big A! He responded that all one needs to decide is whether or not something like a Rembrant etching is a great work of art or not. How it compares with a painting of the same subject by the same artist is not important. Each must hold up as a great work on their own.

The achivement afforded any artist's work may be greatly enhanced by sound design, structure and craft. However, if we rejected all of Frank's Lloyd Wright work that suffered from a poorly crafted or badly designed roof system, we would have to reject Wright as an great artist. His work is great in spite of those failings, not because they don't leak when it rains. I can see a Wright house from my studio window. I can also see all the roofers trucks every spring parked out front. It's still a great work of art and a roofer's nightmare! One has nothing to do with the other, unless of course, you're the owner!

Frankly speaking

Michael Morin Celtic Press Buffalo NY

 

From: Paul Anderson paul__at__GEEKY1.EBTECH.NET
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)
To: BOOK_ARTS-L__at__LISTSERV.SYR.EDU

On Thu, 5 Mar 1998, Michael Morin wrote:

> > Why is the sky blue. > Well, actually, it's because the majority of the sun's light in the longer wavelengths(the red) is filtered out by the atmosphere, leaving the shorter wavelengths, the blue, to filter through.

BTW, IMHO, art is something meant to evoke an emotion in the person that beholds it. TTYL!

 

From: Linda Richards scribe__at__SMARTYPANTS.NET
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)

My first post. Forgive my jumping in.

Michael Morin wrote:

> Why is the sky blue. That's easy. If it were brown it would be too > depressing. It's true. Until Bethlehem Steel closed down the sky in > Buffalo was always brown! We already had brown water and purple-green dirt > (Trucked in special from Niagara Falls) Ever since EPA and putting a brick > in my toilet, everything has been blue sky and sunshine. Blue sky is just > good design, and we all know that when we see it, right?

So happy + sunshine = good design? I don't think that's what you meant. Depending on the mood one was trying to establish, brown water, purple-green dirt and brown sky might -- in fact -- be the perfect design for the purpose.

'Course, now we're back to collies and breed standards, aren't we?

Regards,

Linda

A u t h o r & J o u r n a l i s t http://www.smartypants.net
Editor, January Magazine http://www.januarymagazine.com

 

From: leil lucy alexander leilx__at__OLYMPUS.NET
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)
To: BOOK_ARTS-L__at__LISTSERV.SYR.EDU

I myself am tempted strongly to say that craft is an important part of an artist's book--one thing that has annoyed me a great deal is the lack of interest in and attention to craft, resulting in otherwise wonderful artist's books being either impossible to handle, or not sturdy (when that was not intended by the artist) or just plain inappropriate to the content. I think that craft is underrated in book arts. many painters, potters, sculpters, drawers, printmakers, poets have learned the craft of their art form before going on to stretch it or make great works or art. no subtle shame is attached to any of that. still, I have sometimes found among book arts students a disdain for the craft related to books--printing and binding, among others--a sense that craft is limiting or just plain not relevant! I find craft sets a person free, and gives a solid base to work from. however, I have seen some very effective books which were made in ways I wouldn't do and I know several book artists who are not interested in the craft of books at all. I would love to hear other people's ideas on the topic of craft and art (which I find a spurious distinction, but sometimes useful) and how they work for or against each other in book arts. also if people are interested in the craft of it if they came from other disciplines and how they perceive it.

I think intent is important, but it isn't all. there is a line, to me anyway, somewhere between artist's books and other forms of art (this is another pet peeve left from last year). I think that some book shaped objects are not books at all, and I don't care what the artist thinks or intended. (however, I would never tell an artist that about their work. my opinion is strictly mine and i am sure some of my work could fall into the BSO catagory.) I do think there is value in making "regular" sort of books before going into book shaped objects. I found that some people who skipped that step seem to feel that they were doing the more "out there" work, and those of us who work more in traditional forms are taking the "easy" way out.

two things that seemed to be reasonably consensed upon when I was in school was narrative impulse and sequentiality and that elusive bookness. however, a lot of pieces had none or little of these.

the whether to define question is a hard one, but I still think it has merit. what I find is that if I don't do some defining, someone else, who might or even probably knows less than me will do it instead and that is maddening. and I think for students (having recently been one myself), that looking at books is the best, and being given perhaps a working definition, or a definition in progress (with that stated, so it isn't taken as static), and the chance to develop one's own over time was very helpful. also, for me at least, a solid base in the technical aspects. endless discussions and going round and round about it gets boring, quick.

fascinating discussion! this is what I was looking for when I first came to the list.

leil

 

From: Art Rubino Art_Rubino__at__CLASSIC.MSN.COM
Subject: Re: Bookin' into Books

Well Daria, here is my .$.02 worth. I appreciate your skepticism, and to a certain extent I share it. Still.............

As a book lover and bookseller, I use computers all the time. The thing about it is, you should not view these machines as a replacement for the printed book [a common and understandable misconception fostered on us by computer nerds and unimaginative computer zealots and fanatics], but as another media format, like the paperback version of the hardcover edition, or the CD version of the LP or Cassette Tape.

The new multimedia formats now being developed for personal computers will allow full screen video, text, graphics, and multilingual hi fi audio to be combined into these presentations. We will see these 'books' over the internet in a few years, as speeds improve, and it will allow many people to see and appreciate important books, artist books as well, that they would never be able to purchase. All that being as it may, I have a personal collection of more than 20,000 fine books that I love to handle, read and enjoy.

There is a place for these computerized books in our lives, and they will be great tools. Of course, a fool with a tool is still a fool.

Art Rubino Numismatic & Philatelic Arts of Santa Fe Antiquarian Book Sellers P.O. Box 9712 Santa Fe, NM 87504 USA Phone 505 982 8792 Fax 505 982 0291 Email Art_Rubino__at__msn.com

 

From: "Jack C. Thompson" tcl__at__TELEPORT.COM
Subject: Re: Artists' Books

Some years ago a former employee of mine became the first book arts artist-in-residence at a local college.

I attended her first exhibit. Among her *books* were slabs of clay baked in a kiln, and dead tree branches with bits of paper hanging about.

To me, these were not books. But she was the artist, and what the artist says goes.

That's what it says in all of the books.

I haven't written the other book yet. The book which says that what the artist says is a book may not be a book.

Maybe it's only an article in an obscure journal, but you get my point.

A book is a three-dimensional functional object.

That's my definition. A set of kilned clay slabs may qualify; bits of paper hung about tree prunings may qualify.

But, to me, a book is something which I can hold in my hand while turning pages/leaves which have something upon them which can impart additional information to me.

Now, I have held in my hand volumes of Audubon's elephant folio while moving them from place to place for conservation (very large books!) and copies of the bible printed so small that the entire text needed a magnifying glass to read.

All books. According to my earlier definition.

It is not my place to say how an artist may define the results of his/her creative effort.

But, as a conservator, artisan, technician, and mechanic, it is within my power to stipulate that if a *book* is not a three dimensional functional object, then it is a sculpture. Plain and simple.

The copy of the King James Bible opened to the New Testament, book of Matthew and drowned in plastic and lying on my mother's table comes somewhere in between.

Trust me on this....

Jack

Jack C. Thompson Thompson Conservation Lab 7549 N. Fenwick Portland, OR 97217
503/735-3942 (voice/fax) www.teleport.com/~tcl

 

From: Isca4art2B Isca4art2B__at__AOL.COM
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)

Right on! The form and the content exist in a symbiotic relationship with the artists book- which is almost never true with mass produced books with the possible exception of some childrens books. Louise

 

From: Isca4art2B Isca4art2B__at__AOL.COM
Subject: Re: Artists book

Eear Pat- I'm fairly new to this list- but I gather Peter has a certain bias against artists' books. Louise

 

From: Isca4art2B Isca4art2B__at__AOL.COM
Subject: too much!

Better to be a bookworm than slosh around a can of worms.Louise

 

Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)
To: BOOK_ARTS-L__at__LISTSERV.SYR.EDU

I don't know why I am doing this. Just noticed the crowd and wandered over, I guess.

I am not an artist (which doesn't mean I can't be artistic upon occasion, I suppose). My 2 cents on the topic would be that an artists book (where ever one chooses to place the apostrophe)is a comment by an individual on any aspect of the common (i.e. public) view of a book, where as a bookbinder like myself who thinks in terms of craft prefers to work within that public perception of a book. Public here does not mean current public opinion, but the historical evolution of books as a familar part of daily life from clay tablets and bark to the modern paperback.

I feel like a terrorist tossing a bomb into a crowd. I'm gonna run.

Dorothy

 

From: Peter Verheyen verheyen__at__philobiblon.com
Subject: Re: Artists book

I'm going to take the bait. I do have a certain bias, but not against artist's book per say. I've seen some beautiful work, and some terrible work. The same problem exists with tradition binding as well. The problems I have are that all too often I have seen poor workmanship excused with the phrase, "it's art" or dismissed as irrelevant. If I look at a print I expect it to be well crafted, if I look at a painting, a collage, a sculpture I expect the same. Don't use glue sticks rubber cement... In traditional bookwork it's much easier and more socially acceptable to be hard on poor workmanship, in art, and I sense it more with the "artist's book" scene it doesn't seem as acceptable.

Secondly, while I am primarily a rare book consevator, and execute "fine / design" bindings (read traditional) I also have the opportunity here to interact with a great many of the "Foundation" (first year) art students who all seem to be doing "books." The definition for these is a book is whatever you want it to be... The instructors themselves while having great ideas, are not completely well versed in the craft aspect. I think that if you want to create "artist's books," please do. I've even bought several, but please have a solid foundation in the craft of the book, especially if you're going to teach... Otherwise it's "lights out." If you're making a sculpture that looks like a book form, at least acknowledge that it's a sculpture, not a book. It may be derived from a book, but it's not. This gets back to the bookness aspect. Philip Smith, a (VERY) noted English design binder wrote a letter which is published near the top of the "Links" section on the Book Arts Web, URL below. It's worth a read.

I think the craft and art need to continue to evolve, as they have done from the beginning. Let's just not excuse a sloppyness (anywhere) in the name of art.

That's where I'm coming from.

Peter

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Peter Verheyen, Conservation Librarian 315.443.9937 <wk> 315.443.9510 <fax>
mailto:verheyen__at__philobiblon.com  http://www.dreamscape.com/pdverhey

On Fri, 6 Mar 1998, Isca4art2B wrote:

> Eear Pat- I'm fairly new to this list- but I gather Peter has a certain bias > against artists' books. Louise >

 

From: Peter Verheyen verheyen__at__philobiblon.com
Subject: The book

I'm going to interject a little humor here.

The caption reads "You see, it's written right here, it is a book."

postk1.jpg (5087 bytes)

http://info.uibk.ac.at/c108/gifs/postk1.jpg

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Peter Verheyen, Conservation Librarian 315.443.9937 <wk> 315.443.9510 <fax>
mailto:verheyen__at__philobiblon.com  http://www.dreamscape.com/pdverhey

 

From: Ray Bliss Rich r_rich__at__conknet.com
Organization: Meditations on Paper Subject: Re: Artists book

Peter Verheyen wrote:

> The problems I have are that all too often I have seen poor workmanship excused > with > the phrase, "it's art"

Here.. here... I'm tired of the idea that if someone is making some sort of statement, that makes their work worthy of the label art... if someone wants to hang a urinal someplace other than the lavatory to make a statement, I don't agree that it automatically becomes a work of art...

> I think the craft and art need to continue to evolve, as they have done > from the beginning. Let's just not excuse a sloppyness (anywhere) in the > name of art.

Nor laziness... -- Ray Bliss Rich -------------------------- http://www.conknet.com/~r_rich

 

From: Sam Lanham slanham__at__HCTC.NET
Subject: Re: Artists book
To: BOOK_ARTS-L__at__LISTSERV.SYR.EDU

Peter's position pretty well says it for me (even though I'm guilty of using glue sticks sometimes).

The word "book-ness," for some reason brings up in my mind "Loch Ness." Maybe that's what we're dealing with: a strange and illusive creature, occasionally glimpsed but never predictable.

Sam Lanham Sam Lanham (slanham__at__hctc.net)

 

From: charles alexander chax__at__THERIVER.COM
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)
To: BOOK_ARTS-L__at__LISTSERV.SYR.EDU

I really appreciate the thoughtfulness given this issue on this list. Like Peter and some others, I was trained in the fine crafts of bookmaking, but in an art department where the imagination as to what a book might be (fairly, but not totally, open definition) certainly played a key role. I have made a lot of books since then, but, in part because I chose to make books which engaged literary texts in a kind of dialogue about what kind of book (structurally and otherwise) might best collaborate with them, I've sort of been on various borders between literary bookmaking, fine bookmaking, and artist's bookmaking. I'm perfectly happy on that border, and whil I know I'm not, craftwise, absolutely the best printer or binder or papermaking coming out of the training I had, I think the craftsmanship in the books does hold up fairly well.

Still, with this kind of training, I love books which surprise me, whose imaginative reach thrills me and perhaps makes me sees "book" in a way I haven't seen it before -- or some aspect of "book," at least. And if a creatively made book or book-commenting or book-like object does so, I am willing to give it a lot of leeway in terms of its craft. Generally, my favorite books are those I love to read and whose whole being collaborates in the meaning of that reading. But when given a choice of the finely crafted book whose form doesn't particularly interact with its content (or, frankly, whose content may not interest me), or a less well made 'book' which is clearly a powerful imaginatively made object -- I'd usually rather be holding/seeing/reading (whatever is appropriate here) the latter. And when a book can be both well made and imaginatively powerful, yes, that's the best it gets.

charles

 

From: Shireen Holman tholman__at__CLARK.NET
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)
To: BOOK_ARTS-L__at__LISTSERV.SYR.EDU

At 08:43 AM 3/6/98 -0500, Dorothy wrote: > My 2 cents on the topic would be that an artists >book (where ever one chooses to place the apostrophe)is a comment by >an individual on any aspect of the common (i.e. public) view of a >book, >I feel like a terrorist tossing a bomb into a crowd. I'm gonna run.

Since you tossed the bomb -- I do not agree at all that an artist's book is a comment on aspects of a book. Some art is commentary on other art, but most art, I would say, has, or should have, its own reason to exist. Peter says --The problems I have are that all too often I have seen poor workmanship excused with the phrase, "it's art" or dismissed as irrelevant. I think this relates to a discussion on the list some time ago about the use of archival materials in one's work. To me, equally important in the making of a work of art are the materials one uses, craftmanship, the content, and the way in which all this is put together. If you ignore the importance of any one of these, you end up with something inferior.

***********************************************
Shireen Holman, Printmaker and Book Artist email: tholman__at__clark.net http://www.clark.net/pub/tholman/shireen/index.htm
***********************************************

 

From: Jennifer Vignone opus__at__TIAC.NET
Subject: urinal and duchamp

In regard to the whole urinal thing...isn't the comment being made by Duchamp putting his name on a urinal and putting it in an exhibit a combination of:

1. I'm an artist and I say this is art so it is. 2. I'm an artist, but this is just a toilet, so if I say it's art, it is. 3. I'm an artist, but this is just a toilet, so if I say it's art, is it? 4. I'm an artist, but this is just a toilet, will you allow me to define it as art for you simply because I say so? 5. This is a toilet, make up your own mind. But at least I got you to think.

and if this was the thought process, and he was the first to do such a thing--he was a genius (at least I think so)...then it is art...at least to me...because it's more than just the urninal..it is the entire process...at least in this case...and at the time in art history when this occurred....Art can take on many forms.

In Duchamp's case, he himself, as an individual, was a work of art.

just my opinion, jennifer

 

From: Nicholas Yeager artifex__at__PIPELINE.COM
Subject: Re: Artists book

Peter said:

>In traditional bookwork it's much easier and more socially acceptable to be >hard on poor workmanship, in art, and I sense it more with the "artist's >book" scene it doesn't seem as acceptable. > What I find is often the case with "book-artists" is their disdain for craftsmanship and a well-engineered book. It's as if well-made books are disqualified from being considered as an "artist's book" because the person making said object is merely a craftsperson and incapable of art.

The conventional wisdom of much of the book arts scene is that art requires breaking rules and overthrowing the oppression of unimaginative convention. The problem with this attitude, besides being conventional anarchy is that it denies that there are a variety of vocabularies for expression within the broad, elastic term "artist's book." I have found that many people rely on arrogance and hype to legitimize their efforts, thus inhibiting a dialogue amongst artists and craftspeople.

I commend Peter on setting a friendly tone for this discussion, it's been enjoyable reading since the rancor has been left out of the mix.

Nicholas

 

From: Sally Jackson serifm__at__FASTLANE.NET
Subject: Re: Artists book

Dear Peter,

You wrote:

>The definition for these {students} is a book is >whatever you want it to be...

Perhaps, in this situation, the question is "_Why_ is it a book?"

Sally

 

From: Karen Sanders karen__at__COMPGEN.COM
Subject: Re: Artists book
To: BOOK_ARTS-L__at__LISTSERV.SYR.EDU

The most special works of art (to me) are those that use the characteristics of the media in a special way. For example one might say, only with the transparency of watercolor could the artist express xxxxxx.

Then, think of the Sistine Chapel. So much beautiful work, why couldn't he have used a more easily maintainable media?

The "bookness" uses sequencing, user interaction, the physical feel of the book. Or by denying those qualities, making us think about what a book really is.

> > Perhaps, in this situation, the question is "_Why_ is it a book?" >

Karen from Atlanta

 

From: CamilleEon CamilleEon__at__AOL.COM
Subject: Re: Artists book

What I find is often the case with "book-artists" is their disdain for craftsmanship and a well-engineered book. It's as if well-made books are disqualified from being considered as an "artist's book" because the person making said object is merely a craftsperson and incapable of art.

This is a pretty sweeping and inaccurate statement. I don't think i've EVER run across a situation where someone is saying, "oh, that's too well- made to be art!" Keeping an open mind does NOT automatically cancel out an appreciation for craft or even (gulp) beauty. There ain't nothing wrong with poetry that rhymes.

BTW, I personally get around some of this mess (for those who REALLY NEED to know exactly what it is they're seeing before forming their own opinion) by calling much of my work Book Objects. And, as stretchy as they may get in their "book-ness", they are well- crafted, often employing very traditional bench technigues..

Melissa Jay Craig, Chicago

 

From: Charles Alexander chax__at__THERIVER.COM
Subject: Re: urinal and duchamp

cheers to Jennifer, and, of course, to duchamp!

charles

 

From: vosberg kirkhamb__at__CWDOM.DM
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)

Perhaps the Fluxist (sp) movement would define an artists book as some thing that is involves linking together. thought - execute imaginary - tangable to be - it is. Sun's getting to me...

Colette Vosberg

 

From: James M Storrs storrsj__at__JUNO.COM
Subject: Re: what is a book definition

How about applying Justice Frankfurter's comment on pornography to artist's books: I may not have a definition, but I know one when I see one.

 

From: Daria dherlihy__at__TIAC.NET
Subject: Re: WHAT IS A BOOK???

Dear Art & All:
Sorry, but I am truly NOT skeptical about the coming electronic book. It will evolve into something we will eventually accept just as the scroll people got used to turning pages instead of unrolling them. We'll take our electronic book to the beach and float around on inflatibles reading . (They wont take a dunking any better than what we now call a REAL book.) The turning of the pages will be quite like that of a real book and we will be able to go back and forth at the push of a button. The advantage, supposedly, will be in having so much information at our fingertips (while out in our boat or up in the mountains, or sitting in our living room.) No doubt the internet and all other forms of communication will be connected, too, and a portable printer, fax and copier ( which has already melded into one).

Look into the crystal ball: Next..........will come a little teeny weenie chip that we'll insert into a teeny weenie slot behind our ear. The little chip will contain perhaps the library of congress and we'll be able to access it at our convenience and interact with it - brain to chip. And all other forms of communication will be connected. Etc.

This is not skepticism. It's just the way things are goin' and are gonna' be. And no one loves musty, deteriorating, rag paper book dinosaurs better than I. (or is it me?)

Lilias

 

From: Darryl Baird darrylb__at__AIRMAIL.NET
Organization: http://web2.airmail.net/darrylb
Subject: Re: urinal and duchamp

A lot of Duchamp's statement(s) centers around the context of the "work of art." The rejection of high-art, privileged art, etc. and setting a urinal in a museum context was a major part of his art. He really opened up the gates wide with this foray. I'm indebted and grateful for his audacity.

-Darryl

 

From: Pat Baldwin patbooks__at__PRIMENET.COM
Subject: Re: Artist's books

Good old Justice Frankfurter!

Peter, I think you have the answer yourself. You don't need us. I'll buy yours.

Pat

 

From: Jennifer Vignone opus__at__TIAC.NET
Subject: Re: WHAT IS A BOOK??? 

maybe something to check out for those interested in electronic hoo-ha (some of it pretty cool).... books on CD-- "Patchwork Girl" by Shelly jackson "Califia" by MD Covekley (hope I have that right) interactive books (book-artish in keeping with the ongoing thread) AND for those with a sci-fi interest; Neal Stephenson's "A YOung Lady's Illustrated Primer" about an interactive book which adapts its story line to the first owner who opens the book (it maps the brain, don't ya know) and then the book is "acted" in by actor's in another location who swing into action when the book is oepned and the young girl needs to read or hear a story...that's a simplistic telling of the storyline, the book is quite excellent, but these are interesting ideas in the realm of the book and how it is defined.

Jennifer

 

From: Paul Anderson paul__at__GEEKY1.EBTECH.NET
Subject: Re: WHAT IS A BOOK???

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----

On Fri, 6 Mar 1998, Daria wrote:

> Dear Art & All: > > Sorry, but I am truly NOT skeptical about the coming electronic book. > Bah! I'd rather be sawn asunder(for those of you that don't know what it is, look it up in a dictionary, it's pretty painful...) than dispense with the book, and I know a myriad other people that would too. Reading a computer screen just really bugs some people, and can cause a number of problems. IMHO, a fish will be elected for US presidancy before 'electronic books' become accepted. The death of the book has been proclaimed by many people, first was when radio came out, then TV, now computers. Balderdash, I say. Computers need electricity, and batteries die. Fact is, the book is a brilliant thing. It needs no power, minimal maintenance, lasts for years and is easy to produce. A computer can boast NONE of those qualities, and that's why the book will be in use for millenia in to the future. TTYL!

- --- Paul Anderson - Self-employed Megalomaniac paul__at__geeky1.ebtech.net "With all due respect, you, sir, have the intellect of a pickle." FREE mailing lists setup - e-mail newlist__at__geeky1.ebtech.net for info

 

From: Darryl Baird darrylb__at__AIRMAIL.NET
Organization: http://web2.airmail.net/darrylb
Subject: Re: WHAT IS A BOOK???

I saved this from a previous post here, it seems so appropriate at the moment.

*************************************************************

Announcing the new device: Built-in Orderly Organized Knowledge (BOOK.) The BOOK is a revolutionary breakthrough in technology: No wires, no electric circuits, no batteries, nothing to be connected or switched on. It's so easy to use even a child can operate it. Just lift its cover!

Compact and portable, it can be used anywhere-even sitting in an armchair by the fire-yet it is powerful enough to hold as much information as a CD-ROM disc. Here's how it works...

Each BOOK is constructed of sequentially numbered sheets of paper (recyclable), each capable of holding thousands of bits of information. These pages are locked together with a custom-fit device called a binder which keeps the sheets in their correct sequence. Opaque Paper Technology (OPT) allows manufacturers to use both sides of the sheet, doubling the information density and cutting costs in half. Experts are divided on the prospects for further increases in information density; for now BOOKs with more information simply use more pages. This makes them thicker and harder to carry, and has drawn some criticism from the mobile computing crowd.

Each sheet is scanned optically, registering information directly into your brain. A flick of the finger takes you to the next sheet. The BOOK may be taken up at any time and used by merely opening it. The BOOK never crashes and never needs rebooting, though like other display devices it can become unusable if dropped overboard. The "browse" feature allows you to move instantly to any sheet, and move forward or backward as you wish.

Many come with an "index" feature, which pinpoints the exact location of any selected information for instant retrieval. An optional "BOOKmark" accessory allows you to open the BOOK to the exact place you left it in a previous session -even if the BOOK has been closed. BOOKmarks fit universal design standards; thus, a single BOOKmark can be used in BOOKs by various manufacturers. Conversely, numerous bookmarkers can be used in a single BOOK if the user wants to store numerous views at once. The number is limited only by the number of pages in the BOOK.

You can also make personal notes next to BOOK text entries with an optional programming tool, the Portable Erasable Nib Cryptic Intercommunication Language Stylus (PENCILS).

Portable, durable, and affordable, the BOOK is being hailed as the entertainment wave of the future. The BOOK's appeal seems so certain that thousands of content creators have committed to the platform. Look for a flood of new titles soon.

********************************************************** (GRIN)

 

From: Michael Joseph mjoseph__at__RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Subject: Re: urinal and duchamp I

Jennifer, You have very cleverly pasted the smile of the Mona Lisa upon Duchamp's face in your points 3-5. M.D. would be pleased, I think, but he also might point out that he rather believed the urinal deserved to be taken seriously as art, regardless of the willingness of other viewers to see it his way. He really intended to infuriate (there's another phrase for this) the materialistic minded in a rather savage way, and did inspire other younger artists, including William Wegman whose best artist's book (imho) was floating a sequence of big styrofoam commas down the Wisconsin <?> River, when he was at Madison.

Michael

On Mar 6, 11:15am, Jennifer Vignone wrote: > Subject: urinal and duchamp > In regard to the whole urinal thing...isn't the comment being made by > Duchamp putting his name on a urinal and putting it in an exhibit a > combination of: > > 1. I'm an artist and I say this is art so it is. > 2. I'm an artist, but this is just a toilet, so if I say it's art, it is. > 3. I'm an artist, but this is just a toilet, so if I say it's art, is it? > 4. I'm an artist, but this is just a toilet, will you allow me to define it > as art for you simply because I say so? > 5. This is a toilet, make up your own mind. But at least I got you to think. > > > and if this was the thought process, and he was the first to do > such a thing--he was a genius (at least I think so)...then it is art...at > least to me...because it's more than just the urninal..it is the entire > process...at least in this case...and at the time in art history when this > occurred....Art can take on many forms. > > In Duchamp's case, he himself, as an individual, was a work of art. > > just my opinion, > jennifer >-- End of excerpt from Jennifer Vignone

-- Michael Joseph Rare Book and Jerseyana Catalog Librarian Rutgers University Libraries Technical and Automated Services P.O. Box 1350 Piscataway, New Jersey 08855-1350 voice: 732-445-5904 email: mjoseph__at__rci.rutgers.edu   fax : 732-445-5888 URL: http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~mjoseph

 

From: yara ferreira cluver ycluver__at__INDIANA.EDU
Subject: Re: Artists book

I feel I must write in defense of those BSO's (book-shaped objects), since I make them. My definition of not just the artists book, but book in general is an object which contains. It begins in one form and through the manipulation of the viewer/reader takes on another form. In other words, the object undergoes a physical transformation when someone attempts to "read" it. Since this definition could include many things which I would not consider a book, I would also have to include in this that it has to do with intention (on the part of the maker and the viewer). Is the viewer approaching the object with the intention of "reading" it? But then, we may have to get into a discussion about the definition of "reading". I'll conclude by saying that what one might think of as a book, or an artist's book, another might not, based on intention.

Yara Cluver (Bloomington, IN).

 

From: Barbara Coddington bdc__at__cs.adelaide.edu.au
Subject: Re: Artists' Books

Can the list tolerate another opinion on artists' books? Hope so.

When the book form itself becomes a part of the artist's expression, it's an artist's book. It's more than just a mat and frame on a piece of art. A great painting with a lousy frame is still a great painting, whereas an artist's book is all of a piece -- you probably can't separate the art from the frame. The entire thing must work as a whole. Fine prints in a shoddy or thoughtless binding/box/whatever are more like the great painting in a bad frame -- separable. My brother in law did a uni project that contained some of his photographs and some wonderful writing, and he stuck it in a crap binding, and his instructor called him on it, rightfully, I think.

When you bind something (or box it, or imply book form), you are either encasing it in something that is a sort of frame, in which case it should adequately "support" the contents, or you are encasing it in something that relates to and with the contents; they're interdependent. In which case it should at least meet the standards of the art. So I would say that good craftsmanship must play a part.

I guess if you were to apply this idea to something like the example given earlier in the list, dead branches with paper hanging from them, you'd have to ask yourself whether the papers would have the same meaning without the branches. Likewise, a collection of text and images (for example) in a beautiful but otherwise unrelated binding -- is it a book of art or an artists' book? I'd call it the former.

I'm sure there's a gaping hole in my logic and someone's about to drive a humvee through it, but, well... that's why we're here, I guess!

Barb

 

From: leil lucy alexander leilx__at__OLYMPUS.NET
Subject: Re: Artists book

I agree with Nicholas, who said the first paragraph. I know from experience that it is not _all_ book artists as there are many who care deeply about the craft aspect, but I also think that what Nicholas said is just a general feeling which abounds in some circles which seem to be very dominant. as a student of both the craft and the art, we had many artists in to talk to us and I found it a frequent (and depressing) attitude. however, it is not all the artists!! I think that generalizations have a place, as long as it is understood there are lots of exceptions.

I do not like the solution of book object for myself because I find it tends to take away from the intimacy and concept of a book. an object is to be looked at, not read, interacted with, held and touched and handled. not always, obviously, but I find people have a very scared attitude to what is perceived as Art (whatever that is). whereas if it is on the level of a book, a common object which we all handle, people might be more adventurous (?) about interacting with it. my interest in this art form is the intimacy and privacy and secretivness of it, even big, open books.

leil

>What I find is often the case with "book-artists" is their disdain for >craftsmanship and a well-engineered book. It's as if well-made books are >disqualified from being considered as an "artist's book" because the person >making said object is merely a craftsperson and incapable of art. > >This is a pretty sweeping and inaccurate statement. I don't think i've EVE= R >run across a situation where someone is saying, "oh, that's too well- made = to >be art!" >Keeping an open mind does NOT automatically cancel out an appreciation for >craft or even (gulp) beauty. There ain't nothing wrong with poetry that >rhymes. > >BTW, I personally get around some of this mess (for those who REALLY NEED t= o >know exactly what it is they're seeing before forming their own opinion) by >calling much of my work Book Objects. And, as stretchy as they may get in >their "book-ness", they are well- crafted, often employing very traditional >bench technigues.. > >Melissa Jay Craig, Chicago

 

From: Paul Anderson paul__at__GEEKY1.EBTECH.NET
Subject: Re: Artists book

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----

On Sat, 7 Mar 1998, yara ferreira cluver wrote:

> I feel I must write in defense of those BSO's (book-shaped objects), since > I make them. My definition of not just the artists book, but book in > general is an object which contains. > The definition of what a book is is simple: A book consists of a number of peice of paper sewn together, and bound with a cover. That, my friends is a book. A scroll is not a book. It is a scroll. Nor are commas floating down a river. A number of things have been called books, which aren't books. It's like calling a fish a pen - they have no similarities beyond common shape. A chiseled stone is not a book, not until you bind a number of them together in the form of pages. Sorry, that's the facts. TTYL!

- --- Paul Anderson - Self-employed Megalomaniac paul__at__geeky1.ebtech.net  "With all due respect, you, sir, have the intellect of a pickle." FREE mailing lists setup - e-mail newlist__at__geeky1.ebtech.net for info

 

From: Daria dherlihy__at__TIAC.NET
Subject: Re: WHAT IS A BOOK???

Dear Paul Anderson: I truly believe that I will always prefer a paper book to an electronic book, too, as will most of my friends and probably most on the Book List.....but children are very comfortable with the new media, and the prices of books keep going up, and the cost of memory devices and chips keep coming down, and children keep growing up.

We will see.....

Meanwhile, keep bookin'

Lilias

 

From: Duncan Campbell dmc__at__MINN.NET
Subject: Re: Artists book

>The definition of what a book is is simple: >A book consists of a number of peice of paper sewn together, and bound >with a cover. >That, my friends is a book. A scroll is not a book. It is a scroll. Nor >are commas floating down a river. A number of things have been called >books, which aren't books. It's like calling a fish a pen - they have no >similarities beyond common shape. A chiseled stone is not a book, not >until you bind a number of them together in the form of pages. Sorry, >that's the facts. TTYL! > > > >- --- >Paul Anderson - Self-employed Megalomaniac >paul__at__geeky1.ebtech.net >"With all due respect, you, sir, have the intellect of a pickle." >FREE mailing lists setup - e-mail newlist__at__geeky1.ebtech.net for info > >

Paul you might want to expand your definition to include **all** methods of page attachment including Spiral, Wire-O, Post, Perfect, and Double Fan Adhesive Binding to name just a few that do not involve sewing.

***************************************************

A fool commanding an army is still a fool.

Nacnud dmc__at__minn.net 

***************************************************

 

From: charles alexander chax__at__THERIVER.COM
Subject: Re: Artists book

>The definition of what a book is is simple: >A book consists of a number of peice of paper sewn together, and bound >with a cover. >That, my friends is a book.

Well, here is where it's likely to get more rancorous, or, at least, I find this definition wants to establish a kind of statute, which I don't think is needed. Just as a poem today is not quite what it was 500 years ago (or not necessarily), and 'art' in general has expanded to include what artists have made -- even grammar has had its changes, and linguists like to speak of "descriptive" linguistics rather than "prescriptive" linguistics; I would hope that "book" could adapt its definition over time to take in more than what conforms to what this post suggests.

charles

 

From: noway noway__at__SLIP.NET
Subject: quick anecdote about electronic artists books

I thought I'd say something about "electronic artists books" since that category has all *three* points of contention.

Last year, an artist-writer and a philosopher made a CD-ROM and called it an artists book. Apparently, it's so because then a museum published it and a big University press released it.

Since I'm one of those two crooks (the artist-writer), the recent debate on this list is pretty amusing. I mean, after the CD-ROM was done, I went out and got a press and started laying down type.

There is no trajectory as to what must happen in the future of books, nor are there absolute boundaries in art.

Personally, I feel that when I can put a small animation on a piece of paper or play a sound at the turn of a page, there won't be a need for CD-ROMs -- far cheaper to produce than die-cut jobs and offset printing, btw. It's also good to consider that books are often made to *communicate with other people.* I chose a CD-ROM over a more precious book form because I wanted to reach a large number of people, affordably, *and* I wanted to force people to use their computer for something else than looking at sports stats, stock reports, psycho gunmen games and porn.

If I were a traditional book maker, I wouldn't lose any sleep about artists' books or electronic books as these will continue to take place on the margins of your beautiful and meaningful craft.

Worry about movies and Barnes & Nobles.

Thanks, Jose

 

From: QUEERBOOKS QUEERBOOKS__at__AOL.COM
Subject: Re: Book Objects

Just to give another point of view, for me the ultimate "book object" is a book so finely bound and so impeccably printed that it is too intimidating to be picked up and read. I also include as book objects those books where the quality of the binding is way out of proportion to the quality of the printing and the quality of the text.

The most disturbing book I've ever seen was a copy of "Billy Budd" with an intricately crafted brass cover. The collector who owned the copy proudly told me that the book could never be touched by the human hand because the oils from the skin would permanently damage the finish. White gloves, please!

I'm not saying that this binding is bad or wrong. For me, it is just sad. Imagine a book that can never be touched by human hands! What word do you use to describe impeding the essential nature of a book: the ability to share information? If we were talking about humans, the term would be "dehumanizing".

I've had wonderful opportunities to see, and in many cases handle, priceless, exquisite books. I've marveled at their beauty. Still, there is something unsettling about these books that are, to my mind, too well-crafted for their own good. Is a book still a book if no one reads it? Of course, it is. But I don't think it hurts to ask the question.

Personally, I like my books well-used, the pages thumb-worn, and the covers dog- eared. I like my books appealing, compelling, and well-handled. There's a reason books get worn out--people like ‘em! They are my kind of books.

Ed (Hutchins)

 

From: Jennifer Marie Gorman jmgorman__at__IUPUI.EDU
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book

This definition of a artist's book is far off the mark for many artist's book which I have seen. There may or may not be an assemblage of folios, or the book may not be bound in the traditional sense. Artist's books are not always meant to be observed in a sequential fashion either. One perfect example of an artist's book which contradicts the definition you give in every sense is the work entitled "Bound Book" and please forgive me I do not know the artist. This artist's book is quite literally what it sounds to be, and is also quite clever. It is a large book, (the size of a very large dictionary) anyway the book itself is "bound" by a thick rope that has been wrapped and tied around the outside of the book, then the whole thing was painted with black and yellow paint. This book is not viewable at all in sequential fashion, nor is there even any visible or pictorial text.

I feel what people struggle with when defining what an artist's book is, is the connotation of the term "book". I have seen many artist's books that aren't technically "books". So then here we are again with the question of what are artists books?

Peter maybe you should send students on their own quest to answer this enigmatic question? From a fellow art historian, I know one thing we are all good at is agreeing to disagree. The question of artist's books is one that thoroughly perplexes me also, so i will refrain from trying to define it myself. One thing I do know is that I enjoy artist's books because they never cease to amaze me in their diversity.

Thanks,

Jen

On Thu, 5 Mar 1998, Michael Babcock wrote:

> How about: > > An "artist book" is an assemblage of folios, bound or otherwise, meant > to be observed in a sequential fashion, either arbitrary or = > predetirmined, > and comprised of elements both textual, or pictorial. Construction is > often of an importance equal to that of content. Modes of reproduction > are variable, as are methods of construction. > > Or something like that. > What do I know, I'm a designer/job printer? > > michael bABCock > interrobang letterpress >

 

From: Richard Minsky minsky__at__MINSKY.COM
Subject: Bound Book

>One perfect example of an artist's book which contradicts the definition you give in every sense is the work entitled "Bound Book" and please forgive me I do not know the artist.<

I've seen about a half dozen of these over the years, but I believe the first is by Barton Lidice Benes, who did several of them around 1973. The Center for Book Arts owns one that is yellow, and I included it in the exhibit "Book Arts in the USA" in 1990. CBA first exhibited one of them in the one man show of Benes' works at the Center in 1975, along with several of his other sculptural bookworks (travel book on wheels, etc.) and his "Book of The Dead" wich was made with the ashes of Hans Schneider. A similar book of his, "When I Lived in Salem", was in the Center for Book Arts exhibit at the Creative Arts Workshop in New Haven in 1976, and was the poster for the exhibit. The book was "bound" in rope, gessoed and painted, and also included a pair of painted eyeglasses with razor blades on the inside of the lenses, which also were painted.

Photos of two of the "bound books", are reproduced in the January-February issue of "Arts & Metiers du Livre," in a pull-out special section that is a Guide to New York.

Richard http://minsky.com 

 

From: Sam Lanham slanham__at__HCTC.NET
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book

In an number of places in this long thread I've seen the statement that an artist's book is a book made by an artist. Or, a book is an artist's book if the artist says it it, or intends it to be.

Then how do we identify an "artist" so we can know that that person's books are artist's books? What are the characteristics which permit me to point and say "There goes one now"?

Sam Lanham Sam Lanham (slanham__at__hctc.net)

 

From: Paul Anderson paul__at__GEEKY1.EBTECH.NET
Subject: Re: Artists book

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On Sun, 8 Mar 1998, Duncan Campbell wrote:

> > > Paul you might want to expand your definition to include **all** methods > of page attachment including Spiral, Wire-O, Post, Perfect, and Double Fan > Adhesive Binding to name just a few that do not involve sewing. > Oops... Brain misfired. Sorry, TTYL!

- --- Paul Anderson - Self-employed Megalomaniac paul__at__geeky1.ebtech.net  "With all due respect, you, sir, have the intellect of a pickle." FREE mailing lists setup - e-mail newlist__at__geeky1.ebtech.net for info

 

From: Paul Anderson paul__at__GEEKY1.EBTECH.NET
Subject: Re: Book Objects

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----

On Sun, 8 Mar 1998, QUEERBOOKS wrote:

> > The most disturbing book I've ever seen was a copy of "Billy Budd" with an > intricately crafted brass cover. The collector who owned the copy proudly > told me that the book could never be touched by the human hand because the > oils from the skin would permanently damage the finish. White gloves, please! > If you cover it with some lacquer to protect it, you can lick the thing if you want without harming it. The oils from the skin do attack the brass if it's not coated WITH some transparent chemical, and it eventually develops a deep, and IMHO, aesthetically pleasing brown colour. It always occurs evenly, (unless it hits something particularily bad in one spot) and looks quite nice. TTYL!

- --- Paul Anderson - Self-employed Megalomaniac paul__at__geeky1.ebtech.net "With all due respect, you, sir, have the intellect of a pickle." FREE mailing lists setup - e-mail newlist__at__geeky1.ebtech.net for info

 

From: Paul Anderson paul__at__GEEKY1.EBTECH.NET
Subject: Re: Artists book

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On Sun, 8 Mar 1998, charles alexander wrote:

> I > would hope that "book" could adapt its definition over time to take in more > than what conforms to what this post suggests. > An illustration, if you will - Take the word 'painting'. Everyone here knows what a painting is, right? Would you call art drawn on a computer then printed with a laser printer a painting? No, you wouldn't, because it wasn't painted. It was drawn, then it was printed. Same thing goes for a car - who here calls a moped a car? No one, methinks. Cars are enclosed and usually larger than mopeds. Therefore, the same thing applies to a book. A sheet of paper hung from a twig is not a book, it does not have pages, nor are they bound with a cover. Same difference. If you start to blur the definition of everything, you completely destroy the language. Language is about specifics, not vagueness. TTYL!

- --- Paul Anderson - Self-employed Megalomaniac paul__at__geeky1.ebtech.net  "With all due respect, you, sir, have the intellect of a pickle." FREE mailing lists setup - e-mail newlist__at__geeky1.ebtech.net for info

 

From: Paul Anderson paul__at__GEEKY1.EBTECH.NET
Subject: Re: WHAT IS A BOOK???

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----

On Sun, 8 Mar 1998, Daria wrote:

> and > the prices of books keep going up, and the cost of memory devices and chips > keep coming down, and children keep growing up. > I don't know about the price of books going up... It's stayed pretty steady - it's the value of the dollar that's gone up. Computers are also going to hit a plateua in the coming months when memory CAN'T get any cheaper, nor can processors. The massive price sways of the early nineties(sometimes prices of parts would drop more than $400 in a week!), have begun to settle, and before long it'll stop. It has to, no one short of IBM, MS and Intel is making any money off of computers. Businesses may even begin to raise the prices. I run a small computer business, and on each sale of a computer we make about $100, sometimes less. Intel, however, IIRC has over a 100% markup(that's 100% of the cost). Meaning if you buy a $100 processor from them, they pocket $50. Anyways, you can't change the fact that computers need electricity, and even though books take a dunk poorly, they sure take it better than a CD-ROM drive. TTYL!

- --- Paul Anderson - Self-employed Megalomaniac paul__at__geeky1.ebtech.net  "With all due respect, you, sir, have the intellect of a pickle." FREE mailing lists setup - e-mail newlist__at__geeky1.ebtech.net for info

 

From: Linda Richards scribe__at__SMARTYPANTS.NET
Subject: Re: Book Objects

QUEERBOOKS wrote:

> Personally, I like my books well-used, the pages thumb-worn, and the co= vers > dog- eared. I like my books appealing, compelling, and well-handled. = There's > a reason books get worn out--people like =91em! They are my kind of bo= oks.

I interviewed Robert Fulghum a while ago and he said much the same thing. He said he still has his first copy of Walden: he keeps it on his desk where he can see it, though this copy is now retired from camping trips: too fragile and special to him to risk further accident.

The pages, he said, are underlined and written on. And he's pressed keepsakes that have meaning to him between the pages: feathers and leaves and other things found on his trips. Dirt stains and even a bit of grease: some of these makes are circled and dated and marked by the date of the contribution.

In a very general way, I guess I'm not an advocate of people banging their books around. It goes against too much that is essentially me. However, there was something in the way he spoke of his Walden that was so special: the book has become a touchstone in his life and was shared with special friends in special places. That sort of volume transcends even the "book" label and becomes almost a friend.

A u t h o r & J o u r n a l i s t http://www.smartypants.net   Editor, January Magazine http://www.januarymagazine.com  

 

From: Richard Minsky minsky__at__MINSKY.COM
Subject: Nomenclature

For those who have joined the list since August, 1994, I refer to my introduction to the catalog of the exhibition I curated in 1990, "Book Arts in the USA", in which I establish a nomenclature for differentiaton of various book arts fields, including "artists' books." Peter Verheyen posted the entire text of this to the list on August 31, 1994, and it can be found in the Book_Arts-l archive at:

http://palimpsest.stanford.edu/byform/mailing-lists/bookarts/1994/08/msg00037.html

Richard http://minsky.com

 

From: Edith Abeyta mindmatr__at__teleport.com
Organization: Mind Over Matter
Subject: Re: Artists book

The idea of what is a painting has and is being challenged. Edith

 

From: CamilleEon CamilleEon__at__AOL.COM
Subject: Bomb #2

Well, now that the list is getting quiet again:

What about artists' books which are altered books - individual pieces and /or sculptural forms made from books? They started out as books, are they still?

(running for cover, where I can watch) Melissa Jay Craig, Chicago

 

From: Nicholas Yeager artifex__at__PIPELINE.COM
Subject: Re: Artists book

Paul Anderson wrote: >The definition of what a book is is simple: >A book consists of a number of peice of paper sewn together, and bound >with a cover. >That, my friends is a book. A scroll is not a book. It is a scroll.

I think you'll find that you've described a codex, which is the form of the book that the western world has used since around the time of the calendar change. We can thank those Christian marketers of the early centuries of the Common Era, for repackaging the "books" that contained their religious writings. Our word for book refers to the amount of text that could easily fit on a scroll. A scroll *is* a book. That's why biblical chapters are called books. There were even earlier forms of the "book;" but who cares, that's so long ago that when people make those kinds of books today, they are called artist's books. ;-)

Nicholas

Nicholas G. Yeager 51 Warren St.#2 NY, NY 10007 212.346.9609 artifex__at__pipeline.com

 

From: Seth jubal33__at__IDT.NET
Subject: Re: Artists book

Actually, if we are going to get specific, the word "codex" in Latin is a later form of "caudex", that is, the interior bark of trees, particularly the beech (remember that tree), which was one of the materials used for writing in Rome and elsewhere. The physical form of the codex is derived from the diptych, two wooden boards, one of which was coated with resin, on which personal notes were usually kept (especially in the merchant classes).

The word "book" is of Germanic origin, and is kin to modern German "buch", meaning book, but, lo and behold, also "beech tree", therefore belying its use in the codex form. As to the meaning of "book" as in "book of the Bible", this is simply the translation of the Latin "liber" (as in "liber Exodi", translated at a time when the codex, not the scroll, was of normative use in Europe.

SJ

 

From: J Laflamme arslibri__at__telusplanet.net
Subject: Re: urinal and duchamp / artist's book

There are some problems I have on theoretical as well as practical level with the concept of an artist's book. I am a professional hand bookbinder, skilfull and knowledgable when comes to different structure of a book. I am also a designer, rarely producing in my studio two the same bindings, very strongly emphasizing the esthetic, artistic, intellectual and structural aspects of books that come from my studio. Learning the trade (purposefully I avoid the term craft because of its negative connotation) of hand bookbinding is a very long process requireing knowledge of tools, materials, chemistry of leather, paper, binding techniques, etc. So, once again, binding that I call an art must have: proper, sound structure and design apealing both esthetically and intellectualy . Strong knowledge about the technique of bookbinding allows to experiment with the structure so it can be an integral part of the design. What bothers me very often is that being by profession a bookbinder and incorporating all mentioned above principles of a good design in my work, by a great number of people my books will be perceived as simply bindings. Why? When we , bookbinders have an exhibition of our work it is simply an exhibition of bookbinding. When an artist in general exhibits her/his work, even when pages are held together by a ring binder the work is called an "artist's book". To be perfectly clear - their work is often an art and carries a strong message. I feel however that the part "book" should be dropped out. For me the bookness that Peter wrote about is a very strong element when it comes to bindings. When only expression is the most important factor, why to bother with all the binding stuff? We can use the services of commercial binderies if we need to bind some pages and leave the work of art to the artist. But maybe being so intimidated by the term "artist's book" we do not have in some cases the courage simply to say that the king is naked, that "the thing" only RESAMBLES a book. The term also misleads artists themselves. A few times I had people comming to my studio for a job with a resume of a "book artist". When asked whether they can execute flexible binding or work with leather the answer was simply "no". How for goodness sake the came up with the name of an "book artist" for what they were doing? Their illustrations were good, some even very good, sculptured paper forms also, but from that to a book is a very long way that they often are not willing and interested to take. The knowledge of structure would teach them some humility and respect toward a BOOK. To some of you who by now probably think that I only make traditional square or ractangular books I have to say that you are mistaken. My knowledge about traditional binding techniques enables me to work on experimental yet sound structures. Even Picasso did not start form painting cubic forms. First he studied the techniques of old masters, and then having all the NECESSARY knowledge he started to experiment with his own visions. Some of you might ask why I write about those things (and probably got tired of my English :-)), Peter just asked for our definition. Every definition however has its practical implications that we have to be aware of. Never before I came to Canada, country without practically any university or apprentice program in bookbinding and book conservation I met so many people calling themselves "book artist". While talking to them about their education in the field, I heard about weekend courses here or five days course there. It is terrifying to me not because making "artist's book" is their hobby but because they take commissions for bindings and produce books, nice looking at the first glance, but breaking in half when opened. It is like being an " artist " freed them from any structure. Being an artist does not mean an absolute freedom. Certain freedom comes from knowledge and skill, and it is true when itcomes to design as well as a book structure. It is a painful and long process to grow to and even then very challenging. As Nitzche said in "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" is not important what is one freed from but what is he freed to. (:-)) The word "artist" sometimes covers simply lack of skills and knowledge. Like Jack Thompson wrote in his posting pieces of paper hanging from a tree maybe an interesting concept but it does not make it neither art nor bookbinding. Duchamp's urinal could be perceived as a new and challenging concept, but only once, and only when he did it. All other urinals after Duchamp are and will be ONLY urinals (unless designed by Brancusi:-)). Repeatetiveness of ideas is a mediocre and pitiful procedure, but unfortunately very common. By the way, who has the right to say "I am the artist so I say it is THE ART"? For all this, and many other reasons, that many of you could probably come up with, I think that a discussion about the ART OF A BOOK should be held first before discussing "artist's book".

KSenia Kopystynska

 

From: "Peter D. Verheyen" verheyen__at__philobiblon.com
Subject: Re: Bomb #2

Back to Duchamp. Are his stool, bicycle fork and wheel, still just that, or are they now a piece of sculpture. If they still exhibit the appropriate bookness, as in the case of Tom Philips' Humament or Dante's Inferno, yes they are still books. If they become wall objects or sculptures, they're BSOs. NOTE: this is not a qualitative statement, merely a fact (IMHO). ;>

Peter

At 10:32 PM 3/8/98 EST, you wrote: >Well, now that the list is getting quiet again: > >What about artists' books which are altered books - individual pieces and /or >sculptural forms made from books? They started out as books, are they still? > >(running for cover, where I can watch) >Melissa Jay Craig, Chicago > >

>> In schoen gebunden Buechern blaettert man gern. <<
Peter D. Verheyen <wk> 315.443.9937 <fax> 315.443.9510 <Email> mailto:verheyen__at__philobiblon.com   <Webmaster> http://www.dreamscape.com/pdverhey   <Listowner> mailto:Book_Arts-L-request__at__listserv.syr.edu

 

From: Richard Miller rmiller__at__PETERBORO.NET
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book

Sam Lanham asks:

>Then how do we identify an "artist" so we can know that that person's books >are artist's books? What are the characteristics which permit me to point >and say "There goes one now"?

Artists and murderers are, because of the acts they commit. There are no other characteristics. This is not to say they are similar: one difference is that anyone can claim to be an artist.

Richard, the sometimes artist.
---------------------------------------- Richard Miller rmiller__at__peterboro.net

 

From: Sam Lanham slanham__at__HCTC.NET
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book

At 07:15 AM 3/9/98 -0400, you wrote: >Sam Lanham asks: > >>Then how do we identify an "artist" so we can know that that person's books >>are artist's books?

Richard responds: > >Artists and murderers are, because of the acts they commit. There are no >other characteristics. This is not to say they are similar: one difference >is that anyone can claim to be an artist.

Sam Lanham again:

OK, Richard. What acts does an artist "commit" that designate him/her as an artist?

Sam Sam Lanham (slanham__at__hctc.net)

 

From: Michael Babcock mjb__at__PAMET.COM
Subject: Oh dear.

> From: Jennifer Marie Gorman > This definition of a artist's book is far off the mark... > One perfect example of an artist's book which contradicts the = definition > you give in every sense is the work entitled "Bound Book"..."bound" by = a > thick rope that has been wrapped and tied around the outside of the = book...

blah, blah, blah. What you refer to is a wry commentary on what people commonly believe a = book to be, as well as a visual pun in sculptural form. It is not an "artist's = book" in the sense that Peter is attempting to define. Therefore it is = irrelevant to what is generally being discussed here. You must have mistaken this = for Conceptual_Art-L. Exceptions mayn't negate definitions, but broaden them.

> I feel what people struggle with when defining what an artist's book = is, > is the connotation of the term "book". I have seen many artist's books = that > aren't technically "books". So then here we are again with the question = of > what are artists books?

Yes, so then. What makes you certain that what you observed were "artist's books"? Because someone said it was? Who said so? The "Artist"? A curator? = Admittedly there can be a certain "elasticity" in the definition of anything (again, = porn or erotic?). We have to start with a basic set of characteristics that = put us all in the same realm of thought. Yes, to your point, "bound book", ha ha, has a number of characteristics that enable you to believe what = you observe is a "book", when in fact it is sculpture about "books". I stand = by my definition of an "Artist's Book" as clear and concise, and = additionally, as inclusive of a few possible forms that they may take. My def, does not =

provide for sculptural works, by design, as they are not books, per se. = It is not the be-all and end-all, (how foolish to believe that it could be!) That final set will be for Peter to distill through the editorial = alembic.

> The question of artist's books is one that thoroughly perplexes me = also, > so I will refrain from trying to define it myself.

I'm sorry Jennifer, but one so apt to discount the attempt of another at a clear, on point, definition, while offering such a lame disclaimer, well,... you're lame. So flame me.

Again, here's my definition, 100% accurate or not, I made an attempt:

An "artist book" is an assemblage of folios, bound or otherwise, meant to be observed in a sequential fashion, either arbitrary or = predetermined, and comprised of elements both textual, or pictorial. Construction is often of an importance equal to that of content. Modes of reproduction are variable, as are methods of construction.

Yeah, maybe it's a bit wishy washy, but there's a lot of gray area out = there.

pax, michael bABCock interrobang letterpress

 

From: "Judith B. Kerman" kerman__at__TARDIS.SVSU.EDU
Subject: Re: Artists book

Paul Anderson writes:

> Same difference. If you start to blur the definition of > everything, you completely destroy the language. Language is about > specifics, not vagueness.

Ah, would that it were so! Language is a consensus concerning useful ranges of unavoidable fuzzynesses, not sharp distinctions. Symbols, not signs. Words have denotations (usually pretty specific) but also, inevitably and quirkily and variously, they have connotations. Try doing some translations, and you'll find out pretty damn quick. Think "fuzzy set" - what we all agree about is in the middle of the set, but out toward the edges your definition of "red" and my definition of "red" are probably not the same, even if neither of us is color-blind. Even within a small group of people there are disagreements and agreements about the specific meanings of language - the larger the group, the fuzzier the area of agreement.

Judith Kerman poet/bookworker/wordperson

_________ |\ /| /________/( |? \ / ?| (________(/(___ |??? \/ ???| /_(________(/__/( | Judy | (______________(/( | Kerman | (Mayapple Press(/( | Saginaw, | (______________(/ \ ? MI ? / \ ?? / http://www.cris.com/~Jkerman   \/

 

From: Gillian Boal gboal__at__LIBRARY.BERKELEY.EDU
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)

I like the definition below but would suggest that one area can dominate and the other support as it would result in a different emphasis. For example a fine press book with a very simple binding would mean that the bulk of the intended message was the printing itself and the binding was a support but it would still be called an artist's book. As a teacher of the bookbinding aspect of artist's books we concentrated on the form and my opinion is that to get what Darryl has described we should have collaboration between writer, printer, bookbinder and hopefully we could get the harmony! Somewhat like Claire Van Vleit does. Gillian Boal On Wed, 4 Mar 1998, Darryl Baird wrote:

> My definition. > > An artists book is a harmonious composite of design, form, content, and > context with no one area dominating or responsible for the bulk of > intended message(s). The overlapping of form (materials) and content > (message) is quite often the major vehicle for creative expression. > > --Darryl Baird >

 

From: "Judith B. Kerman" kerman__at__TARDIS.SVSU.EDU
Subject: Re: Artists book

On Sun, 8 Mar 1998, Seth wrote: > use in the codex form. As to the meaning of "book" as in "book of the > Bible", this is simply the translation of the Latin "liber" (as in "liber > Exodi", translated at a time when the codex, not the scroll, was of > normative use in Europe.

Well, yes, but in both ancient and modern Hebrew "Sefer" (as in Sefer Torah, the Five Big Books in one scholl) specifically means "book" or "volume"; related words have to do with writing (like scribes), literature, and numbers (but in Hebrew numbers and letters use the same characters). And, guys and gals, it was a scroll.

_________ |\ /| /________/( |? \ / ?| (________(/(___ |??? \/ ???| /_(________(/__/( | Judy | (______________(/( | Kerman | (Mayapple Press(/( | Saginaw, | (______________(/ \ ? MI ? / \ ?? / http://www.cris.com/~Jkerman   \/

 

From: vosberg kirkhamb__at__CWDOM.DM
Subject: book or sculpture

This discuss brings to mind an art piece done by Mary Scott from Calgary, Alberta Canada that always intrigued me.

She wrote a narration on several pages using a syringe filled with paint. With this method she created a stack of sheets measuring about 4 inches by 5 inchs and about 1 1/2 inches thick. The stack was bound by jute, package style with a bow on top so that the contents could not be read, only the top sheet.

In light of this interesting discussion and various views, would this piece be called a artists book or a sculpture piece?

Your imput please...?
Colette Vosberg

 

From: Jane skazki__at__GLOBALNET.CO.UK
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists B

What acts does an artist "commit" that designate him/her as an >artist?

How about:

"An artist creates physical or intellectual artefacts which are intended to be evaluated primarily by aesthetic, rather than utilitarian or cost criteria."

That way you exclude writers of pot-boilers and creators of TV commercials, but keep in the paint-splattering two-year-old. And frankly, I haven't a clue how to keep out the paint-splattering, or even book-eating two-year-old. I think we all start out as artists, and sooner or later, most of us stop

On the other hand, if a book falls apart before you can 'use' it as the creator intended, it isn't art because you never got around to evaluating the aesthetics at all.

Jane ______________________
skazki__at__globalnet.co.uk   ______________________

 

From: Natty Bumpo jubal33__at__IDT.NET
Subject: Re: Artists book

Natty Bumpo aka SJ aka jubal33 aka Seth Jerchower writes:

I was just going over MIT's e-book site, looking over the Hypnerotomachia Polyphili (Aldus, Venice 1499). I also have in front of me the original. Only one thing has so far convinced me, and that is that the e-medium is still in its nascency, and we have much to discuss and debate and experiment with in our own e-sites.

I 've no gripes with the extension of the word "book" to this medium per se, in as much as it refers to both the concrete (as in codex) and abstract (as in, ahimè, any litterary attempt and/or collection; e.g. anthologies, how-to's and cookbooks). I suggest reading McLuhan's "The Gutenburg Galaxy" to see just how volatile the debate of amanuense vs. press was during printing's first century. I wonder who the Electronic Manutius will be, but the GUI technology we are using has been familiar to most of us for but a few years, and we've still to explore other languages (XML, DHTML), character formats, and technologies in both soft- and hardwares still to be dreamt of, hopefully by a Polyphilus of 1999.

In the meantime, visit my meager attempts at:

http://idt.net/~jubal33  http://idt.net/~jubal33/petrarch.htm   http://idt.net/~jubal33/petrarc2.htm   http://idt.net/~jubal33/descorts.htm  

Vale

 

From: Artemis BonaDea paradux__at__ALASKA.NET
Organization: North Bound Books
Subject: Re: bookness

from an earilier posting the notion of "bookness" was discussed, in the context of book-like objects that do not operate as traditonal western books. In my classes, I use the word "bookworks" to describe items that are book-like but do not function mechanically. The items I'm thinking of are wall pieces, books that are glued open so only 1 page spread is visible, books that are bolted shut, etc.

Artemis

From: Claudia Stall cstall__at__MAIL.SDSU.EDU
Subject: Re: book or sculpture

OK, my 2cents worth....If it doesn't have movement (i.e. open), it is not really a "book". If it doesn't unroll, it is not a scroll. Etc. A single sheet or clay tablet, a stack of papers, etc.= not a book either. Opening may be in a variety of ways but it seems to me to be implicit in the word "book". An artist, crafter, printer, whoever makes it, it should have the qualities of a book to be called a book. All sorts of freedoms can be taken from the original concept of book but it begins to adulterate the meaning.

This example, for me, would be a book look-alike. It can't function as a book therefore, not a book. It sounds very interesting though and I would probably call it an artistic creation looking like a book.

C. Stall

At 05:22 PM 03/09/1998 -0800, you wrote: >This discuss brings to mind an art piece done by Mary Scott from Calgary, >Alberta Canada that always intrigued me. > >She wrote a narration on several pages using a syringe filled with paint. >With this method she created a stack of sheets measuring about 4 inches by >5 inchs and about 1 1/2 inches thick. The stack was bound by jute, package >style with a bow on top so that the contents could not be read, only the >top sheet. > >In light of this interesting discussion and various views, would this piece >be called a artists book or a sculpture piece? > >Your imput please...? > >Colette Vosberg > >

 

From: Juliet Page julepage__at__ACCESS.DIGEX.NET
Subject: Re: book or sculpture?

>>This discuss brings to mind an art piece done by Mary Scott from Calgary, >>Alberta Canada that always intrigued me. >> >>She wrote a narration on several pages using a syringe filled with paint. >>With this method she created a stack of sheets measuring about 4 inches by >>5 inchs and about 1 1/2 inches thick. The stack was bound by jute, package >>style with a bow on top so that the contents could not be read, only the >>top sheet. >>Colette Vosberg

At 01:50 PM 3/9/98 -0800, Claudia Stall wrote: >OK, my 2cents worth....If it doesn't have movement (i.e. open), it is not >really a "book". If it doesn't unroll, it is not a scroll. Etc. A single

Do you mean to imply then, that a bound collection of pages, contained within shrink wrap as one might receive from a mail-order source, does not become a book until the packaging is actually removed, thus allowing the movement?

signed, devil's advocate

 

From: Richard Miller rmiller__at__PETERBORO.NET
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book

Why Sam, random acts of art, of course ;-)

>OK, Richard. What acts does an artist "commit" that designate him/her as an >artist?

---------------------------------------- Richard Miller rmiller__at__peterboro.net 

 

From: Richard Miller rmiller__at__PETERBORO.NET
Subject: Re: Oh dear.

michael bABCock's new definition:

>An "artist book" is an assemblage of folios, bound or otherwise, meant >to be observed in a sequential fashion, either arbitrary or = >predetermined, [snip] has problems, I feel, in the "bound or otherwise". If it were so, then a portfolio of prints would be a book, which it isn't.

Sorry, michael, try again ;-)

---------------------------------------- Richard Miller rmiller__at__peterboro.net

 

From: Richard Miller rmiller__at__PETERBORO.NET
Subject: Re: Artists book

Judith wrote:

>Well, yes, but in both ancient and modern Hebrew "Sefer" (as in Sefer >Torah, the Five Big Books in one scholl) specifically means "book" or >"volume"; [snip] >... And, guys and gals, it was a scroll.

I think a scroll can be a volume but not a book, unless you mean part of a larger work such as the Book of Genesis.

Oh my heavens, this is getting to be too much for my feeble brain to cope with ;-)

---------------------------------------- Richard Miller rmiller__at__peterboro.net 
The Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild website: http://www.cbbag.cal

 

From: Claudia Stall cstall__at__MAIL.SDSU.EDU
Subject: Re: book or sculpture?

Could it be a book-in-waiting? ;) I guess it will be a book when it is capable of being read.

Boy, this gets tangled up! Great discussion.

C. Stall

> Claudia Stall Head, Collection Preservation Unit San Diego State University Love Library
"Be kind, do good work, and touch the earth gently."

 

From: Sam Lanham slanham__at__HCTC.NET
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book

At 06:22 PM 3/9/98 +0000, you wrote: > What acts does an artist "commit" that designate him/her as an >>artist? > >How about: > >"An artist creates physical or intellectual artefacts which are intended to >be evaluated primarily by aesthetic, rather than utilitarian or cost criteria." > This strikes me as a good run at the question, though I guess I wouldn't want to rule out aesthetically worthy but also utilitartian objects. But I would like to push for some moderately objective standards and the matter of intent, without more, keeps circling us back to the subjective. "A book is an artist's book if an artist so intends it and an artist is one who so intends it." The question gets begged and begged. If it is the case that all this is a purely subjective matter than that's the end of the discussion. I believe that each artistic medium evaluates it product by some at least slightly objective value principles. This at least permits the discussion to continue. There may be considerable debate and disagreement over what the principles should be in a given discipline but I expect that most, if not all, of them are derived from acknowledged works of art. Maybe this is just an old-fashioned view since it treats art as an evolutionary process, a continuum, and discourages thinking of it as completely disconnected from and not indebted at all to the widely accepted standards which have gone before. Maybe we <are> living in a post-art-history era.

>On the other hand, if a book falls apart before you can 'use' it as the >creator intended, it isn't art because you never got around to evaluating >the aesthetics at all.

I'm not clear on your line of thought here. Now it is the whim of the "beholder" which determines whether the book is art? And since the book must be "used" to be art are you now saying that the utilitarian aspect is critical rather than ancillary?

Fascinating issue. Wonder how much more of this Peter can take? :-)

Sam Lanham Sam Lanham (slanham__at__hctc.net)

 

From: Sam Lanham slanham__at__HCTC.NET
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book

At 05:25 PM 3/9/98 -0400, you wrote: >Why Sam, random acts of art, of course ;-) > >>OK, Richard. What acts does an artist "commit" that designate him/her as an >>artist? > Yes, of course. Why didn't I think of that?

Sam Sam Lanham (slanham__at__hctc.net)

 

From: "Judith B. Kerman" kerman__at__TARDIS.SVSU.EDU
Subject: Re: book or sculpture

I like the word "bookwork" as a more general word, including artists' books as well as other things. But there are certainly "bookworks" which don't function as books. The punning part of my mind suggests a new "portmanteau" word (an idea Lewis Carroll used in the Alice books - "slithy" being a combination of "lithe" and "slimy"). How about calling something like this a "book-alike"?

On Mon, 9 Mar 1998, Claudia Stall wrote:

> This example, for me, would be a book look-alike. It can't function as a > book therefore, not a book.

"Function as a book" suggests that container idea, I guess - seems worthwhile as a basic. And maybe the idea that you normally can't see/read/experience the whole thing at once, that performance aspect, is also a basic idea. So scrolls and codices both fit - how about tunnel books?

_________ |\ /| /________/( |? \ / ?| (________(/(___ |??? \/ ???| /_(________(/__/( | Judy | (______________(/( | Kerman | (Mayapple Press(/( | Saginaw, | (______________(/ \ ? MI ? / \ ?? / http://www.cris.com/~Jkerman \/

 

From: BerwynH BerwynH__at__AOL.COM
Subject: Re: book or sculpture?

You can buy Keith Smith's books in loose folios. So I guess that would mean they are not books since they have not been bound and only the act of binding creates the book.... B

 

From: CamilleEon CamilleEon__at__AOL.COM
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists B

>Maybe this is just an old-fashioned view since it treats art as an >evolutionary process, a continuum, and discourages thinking of it as >completely disconnected from and not indebted at all to the widely accepted >standards which have gone before. Maybe we <are> living in a >post-art-history era.

It seems to me we're right smack in the middle of that evolutionary process here. I've been thinking of how some of the comments recall the furor that surrounded the Impressionists and how they were reviled by the Academic painters of the day. They too were accused of being completely lacking in craft/ talent, of having no respect for the "laws" of painting, not to mention their selection of everyday subject matter over the formal / allegorical, and their ridiculous practice of painting in the open air as opposed to the controlled environment of the studio. These things were just not done...and they weren't painting.

Yep, it's a fascinating discussion.

Melissa Jay Craig, Chicago
("Ya call that a painting / book? My five year old could've done that!")

 

From: BerwynH BerwynH__at__AOL.COM
Subject: Re: Artists book

I have been reading most of these postings on the definition of an artist= book. No real definitions come to mind. The cop out would be to say th= at if you define something then that something becomes stagnant and die= s. We still seem to be trying to define human. If we can't do that, the= n artist books are a long way off. I keep thinking of the way painting = has evolved. In the beginning they painted on walls. Sometimes to recor= d events in their lives. (Not that they had a word for painting)(or so = I assume). It always was about trying to depict reality. Til recently.= Then the impressionists, dadaists, pop artist, abstract artists, etc b= egan to interject their ideas of what painting was. Well, we all know h= ow that first went over. Anyway, it seems to me we are in a new phase. Artists are trying to redef= ine the notion of a book, much like the painters redefined the idea of = what a painting was. If you took a person of the strict realist painti= ng times sthey might not even think of the cave paintings as paintings.= As "real" paintings. There also seems to be a couple of lines of arguments. One seems to have = to do with structure while the other has to do with function. These are= two completely different ideas. Structure has to do with the physical = object. People who seem to be stuck on structure are discounting the pu= rpose of the book. What does the book do? In simplest terms it relays i= nformation. What was it created for? To relay information. A book witho= ut information is just potential incarnate. Hmmmmm interesting..... So would a computer turned off or not used be the same thing? Or us for t= hat matter.... Well, since no one has actually taken the time to look up definition of a= book here it is: Book (book) n. 1. a printed work on sheets of paper bound together, usual= ly between hard covers. 2. a main division of literary work. 3 a recor= d or account 4. a libretto 5. a booklike package , as of matches 6. a r= ecord of bets , as on horse races 7. Bridge etc., a specified number of= tricks that must be won before scoring can take place -vt 1. to recor= d a book; list 2. to engage (rooms,etc.) ahead of time. 3. to record ch= arges againston a police record. -adj. in, from or according to books = or accounts -bring to book 1. to force to explain 2. to repremand -by = the book according to the rules -keep books to keep a record of busin= ess transactions By the way a simple definition Artist (=E4r test=B4) n. 1. one that is skilled in any of the fine arts, = esp. painting, sculpture etc. 2. one who does anything very well. 3. a = professional in any of the performing arts So if a person who was exceptionally proficient at making dinner reservat= ions made an reservation at a fancy restaurant would it be an artist bo= ok? Oh! that's a bad one.

O.k. where was I? What is an artist book? A book made by an artist. too simple I believe a book has to do the conveying of information. I think of it in= terms of what function it serves not what form it takes. If a picture = conveys a thousand words, then pictures are more informative than some = artist books. I think the problem is not trying to define what an artist book is or wha= t a book is but that the artists have created things that have outgrown= the idea of what a book is. What we need is a new word. For example, z= ine. Zines have poped up everywhere and with the access to cheap copies= have become a common staple in some readers lives. The term Zine was i= nvented because the books that were being produced seems to be like mag= azines but lacked the professionlism. However, many zines today are ver= y sophisticated and well printed. Most book artists have tracended the = old ideas of what a book is. So what to call this new art form? How about Koob? It resembles a book (same letters but reverse order). It= refers back to the book. (where we grew from) And It isn't a word we c= urrently use. (new term for a "new" medium) So, I guess I'll have have to change all my business cards to Koob artist= . Berwyn I if prattle and you listen is it still prattle?

probably....

 

From: Darryl Baird darrylb__at__AIRMAIL.NET
Organization: http://web2.airmail.net/darrylb
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)

Gillian Boal wrote:

> I like the definition below but would suggest that one area can dominate > and the other support as it would result in a different emphasis. For > example a fine press book with a very simple binding would mean that the > bulk of the intended message was the printing itself and the binding was a > support but it would still be called an artist's book. As a teacher of the > bookbinding aspect of artist's books we concentrated on the form and my > opinion is that to get what Darryl has described we should have > collaboration between writer, printer, bookbinder and hopefully we could > get the harmony! Somewhat like Claire Van Vleit does. > Gillian Boal > On Wed, 4 Mar 1998, Darryl Baird wrote: > > > My definition. > > > > An artists book is a harmonious composite of design, form, content, and > > context with no one area dominating or responsible for the bulk of > > intended message(s). The overlapping of form (materials) and content > > (message) is quite often the major vehicle for creative expression.

I read and thought a lot about this thread since I first responded. Nothing has really changed my mind or my definition of an artist's book. I'd comment the above scenario would work better if the "intent" of the artists was to signal to the reader/beholder the binding was meant to be insignificant, ephemeral, etc. The book as art needs the interaction of materials and design concerns to communicate in non-verbal ways. If one area dominates as above, it should be with the ultimate goal to communicate _something_ by this obvious shift from tradition.

Let me modify the concept of "dominate" as "shoulder the message alone or nearly alone."

Also, filter my definition with the fact my book "art" always (so far) takes the form of book parody. My books critique and subvert other book forms. It has to do a good job with form AND content or it tends to fail.

-Darryl

P.S. I dream of the day when I can work in collaboration with a good press(person) and bindery. I'm currently a one-man-band.

 

From: QUEERBOOKS QUEERBOOKS__at__AOL.COM
Subject: Thinking About Scrolls

Thinking About Scrolls

So, next month there will be a solo show of my books at UCLA called "Toying With Books: Playing With Conventions". I'm working on the catalog for it and I'm very excited about how it is developing. When you open the cover so it lies flat, then start pushing it towards the center, the pages start advancing one at a time. It's really nifty. And, since is has covers and the dozen individual pages are attached to one side, I guess it fits most people's definition of a book. I got the idea from a 1954 manual by Victor Strauss called "Point of Purchase Cardboard Displays". I figured I was taking a 1950's idea and updating it to the 1990's. But I was surprised when I recently showed the model to a group of colleagues. One of them, Nancy Tomasko, immediately recognized a connection between my structure and an ancient Chinese scroll. Whoa! I thought to myself, a Chinese scroll? I don't think so. The next time the group got together, Nancy presented me with a file of documentation on a particular type of Chinese scroll called a "whirlwind binding". For this type of binding, anywhere from eight to 24 additional leaves are attached to the surface of the scroll. Each sheet is indented from the previous one for easy access. What a great idea: a scroll with pages! When it was used around the 9th century, it was a very acceptable type of book. I had never seen this structure before, yet there was a definite connection between it and the 20th century book I was producing. The point I'm trying to make is that all of us who love books are operating on an historical continuum. The structure that we call a book has changed drastically from what it was in the past, and it will change drastically in the future. Other subscribers have pointed out that our word "book" pre-dates the codex, our word "library" predates the introduction of papyrus, and Richard Miller cleverly alluded to "volume" being derived from "roll", as in a scroll. Rather than being locked in time, I've found it productive to be aware of historical models and to embrace them in my development as a book artist. It's not an either/or situation. There's room on my library shelves for all kinds of books. I feel that my life and my library have both been enriched by a broad definition of what constitutes a book. Thanks to Nancy Tomasko, I am posting a selection from "The Story of Chinese Books". It traces the development of the book in China from a scroll to a sutra binding (what today we call a concertina binding) to what we now call a codex. Notice that the author identifies a modified sutra binding as a "whirlwind binding". We're not the only ones who have had trouble agreeing on definitions! For those who are interested in a further discussion of scrolls, I invite you to visit my web page. Under the heading "What is a Book?" there is an essay I originally posted to the Book Arts List on October 5, 1996 called "Is the Scroll a Book?". It a further elaboration of my continuing fascination with this ancient book structure.

Ed (Hutchins)  http://members.aol.com/queerbooks/home.htm/hello.htm

For the record, here are the sources Nancy found for the whirlwind binding: "Thoughts on the Scroll, The Art of Chinese Book Bindings" by Wu Han Ying "Concise History of the Artistry of Book Bindings" by Qiu Ling The Restoration and Construction of Antiquarian Books" by Pan Meidi

 

From: QUEERBOOKS QUEERBOOKS__at__AOL.COM
Subject: From Scrolls to Leaves

>From Scrolls to Leaves

The period of the Sui and Tang dynasties, when hand copying flourished, was also the period when the scroll and rod system reached its height and when beautiful bindings appeared. In the mid-9th century, however, books in scroll form were gradually replaced by books in leaf form. The scrolls were long--often several tens of feet--and rather troublesome to unroll. The process of looking up a single sentence in the text might require the unrolling of most of a scroll. During the Warring States Period and the Qin and Han dynasties scrolls caused few problems because there were few lengthy writings. But from the Sui and Tang dynasties onward, after a number of dictionaries had been published, the matter of looking up a word or a sentence was an oft-occurring necessity. The great inconvenience and inefficiency of rolling and unrolling became more and more of a problem. Some inventive person then decided that, instead of using the scroll form, a book might be made by folding the paper to form a pile in a rectangular shape. The front and back covers of such a book were made of strong, thick paper, sometimes dyed in colour or mounted on cloth for protection. This new form was called a "leaf binding", or "sutra binding". With this new kind of binding, a reader could easily turn to any leaf to look up a word or a sentence, without having to unroll the whole book. This was a great step forward in the development of books. Before long, however, this new form was also found to have some drawbacks. A long piece of folded paper could easily become unfolded and spread out. To avoid this, book makers added another sheet of paper to the folded pile. This was creased in the middle and one half of the sheet was pasted onto the first leaf and the other half was pasted onto the last leaf. The extra sheet held the pile together and prevented it from spreading out, while the leaves of the pile could still be turned forwards and backwards. (This came to be called a "whirlwind binding".) These two forms of binding appeared in the mid-9th century. They overcame the defects of the scroll and rod system, yet they had a disadvantage in the fact that the place where the paper was folded might break after a lapse of time. Disarrangement and loss of leaves then occurred unavoidably. The next step was to bind the separate sheets into a book. When this step was taken books bound as they are today were created.

The Story of Chinese Books, written by Liu Guojun and Zheng Rusi, translated by Zhou Yicheng. Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, 1985.

 

From: charles alexander chax__at__THERIVER.COM
Subject: Re: Artists book

>Ah, would that it were so! Language is a consensus concerning useful >ranges of unavoidable fuzzynesses, not sharp distinctions. Symbols, not >signs. Words have denotations (usually pretty specific) but also, >inevitably and quirkily and variously, they have connotations. Try doing >some translations, and you'll find out pretty damn quick. Think "fuzzy >set" - what we all agree about is in the middle of the set, but out toward >the edges your definition of "red" and my definition of "red" are probably >not the same, even if neither of us is color-blind. Even within a small >group of people there are disagreements and agreements about the specific >meanings of language - the larger the group, the fuzzier the area of >agreement.

This is very good, Judith -- about language and so much more. And I can't imagine any linguist who would not agree about this fuzziness of language.

cheers!
charles

 

From: CamilleEon CamilleEon__at__AOL.COM
Subject: A Little More Re: Definition

To add a couple more thoughts to my earlier post re: the Impressionists - they were active (roughly) in the last half of their century - and the style of painting they challenged/ deviated from was being redefined not only by these irreverent radicals, but by the increasing popularity and availability of the camera...

I had lunch yesterday with a teacher of Latin and Greek, who was very excited about having his courses put into a CD...

Melissa

 

From: Richard Miller rmiller__at__PETERBORO.NET
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book

>Most fun I've had in ages, seriously.

I agree. It's like being back in school and having heated, quasi-intellectual discussions in the coffeee shop or pub. Sometimes our opinions are changed, more often not, but at least the brain gets some excersise.

Thanks all, Richard. ---------------------------------------- Richard Miller rmiller__at__peterboro.net

 

From: Jack Ginsberg JackG__at__CJPETROW.CO.ZA
Subject: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)

The following is an extract from the catalogue of "Artists Books -An Exhibition at the Johannesburg Art Gallery from 25th August to 27th October, 1996." In view of the present attempt to define an artists book, I thought it could become my tuppence worth. Sorry about the length!

One cannot assume that the definition of a book, let alone an Artist's Book, is understood by all, but indubitably the book arts have infinitely expanded that definition. The definition of a book (like the Duchampian definition of art itself) can now mean any object which a book artist defines as a book! All the usual criteria have been breached, infringed and transgressed. The Oxford English Dictionary (O.E.D.) entry for 'book' is surprisingly wide and not just, say, "a repository of information, usually printed on paper and bound for ease of use and portability". Part of the long O.E.D. entry (running to over seven pages) reads: [in brackets]

[3. gen. A written or printed treatise or series of treatises, occupying several sheets of paper or other substance fastened together so as to compose a material whole. In this wide sense, referring to all ages and countries, a book comprehends a treatise written on any material (skin, parchment, papyrus, paper, cotton, silk, palm leaves, bark, tablets of wood, ivory, slate, metal, etc) put together in any portable form, e.g. that of a long roll, or of separate leaves, hinged, strung, stitched, or pasted together. a. spec. (In reference to modern things.) Such a treatise occupying numerous sheets or leaves fastened together at one edge called the back, so as to be opened at any particular place, the whole being protected by binding or covers of some kind. But, since either the form of the book or its subject may be mainly or exclusively the object of attention, this passes on either side into b. The material article so made up, without regard to the nature of its contents, even though its pages are occupied otherwise than with writing or printing, or are entirely blank: e.g. "a handsome book", i.e. a trophy of the binder's art, "a tiny book", one that may be put in the waistcoat pocket. c. A literary composition such as would occupy one or more volumes, without regard to the material form or forms in which it actually exists, 'an intellectual composition, in prose or verse, at least of sufficient extent to make one volume'. It is not now usual to call a (modern) literary composition in manuscript a 'book' unless we think of its printing as a thing to follow in due course. In sense b every volume is a 'book'; whilst in sense c one 'book' may occupy several volumes; and on the other hand one large volume may contain several 'books', i.e. literary works originally published in distinct books. No absolute definition of a 'book' in this sense can be given: in general a short literary composition (especially if ephemeral in character, and therefore also in form) receives some other name, as tract, pamphlet, sketch, essay etc.]

>From the above it is apparent that many of the controversies exercising the minds of book artists today were considered, although from a different aspect, by James Murray in the last century when he wrote the entry for 'book'. Two interesting historical quotes, at about the time when the entry for book was being written, are: [1884. J.A.H. Murray in 13th Addr. Philol. Soc 22. I do not know what a book is. Was Shakspere the author or one book or forty-four books? 1886. Boston Literary World 1 May 150/1. The first matter was to settle the seemingly easy but really difficult question, What is a book? This they solved by defining it as 'a literary work substantial in amount and homogenous in character'.]

The most interesting aspect of the O.E.D. definition is the fact that the concept of a book has always been ambiguous, with such comments as "without regard to the material forms in which it actually exists" (perhaps a reference to shape or sculpture!) and "No absolute definition of a 'book' in this sense can be given, even though its pages are occupied otherwise than with writing or printing, or are entirely blank". While the definition of Artists' Books is still one of some controversy, when the movement developed in the 1960's and 1970's, an Artist's Book was then thought of as a unique object made by an artist in the book format. This definition has been extended to include editioned books (i.e. not unique and usually using a graphic process for duplication) with the principle criteria being the artist's input and individuality. David Blamey states: "Sometimes found in bookstores and sometimes found in art galleries, the bookwork does not rest easily in either camp but is nonetheless now widely recognised as an important and valid form of creative expression. The dichotomy is further fuelled by book artists themselves, who subvert the conventions of both worlds by packaging highly personal or complicated ideas in the form of a popular commodity".

Jack M. Ginsberg 25A Talton Road, 2193 Forest Town Johannesburg, South Africa E-mail: jackg__at__cjpetrow.co.za 

 

From: Michael Morin ba202__at__FREENET.BUFFALO.EDU
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book (YES, again)

At 11:13 PM 3/5/98 -0800, you wrote: >So happy + sunshine = good design? I don't think that's what you meant. >Depending on the mood one was trying to establish, brown water, >purple-green dirt and brown sky might -- in fact -- be the perfect >design for the purpose. > >'Course, now we're back to collies and breed standards, aren't we? > >Regards, > >Linda

Your right...that design worked great for Love Canal in the Falls!

M

 

From: Jennifer Gorman jenng__at__US.IBM.COM
Subject: Oh dear

>>What makes you certain that what you observed were "artist's books"? >>Because someone said it was? Who said so? The "Artist"? A curator? =

What makes you assume that the artist's books I've seen have been in artist's studios or on display in a museum? Actually all of the artists books I have seen are in "Libraries", you know those big buildings that hold "Books". If you have a problem with the Library of Congress catologing system you can take it up with them, it's not my fault nor anybody's else's that they don't adhear to your narrow defintion "bound or otherwise" of what an artist book is or is not.

>>well,... you're lame.

Whether I'm lame or not is not the topic, I understand you don't agree with me on this subject, but please refrain from the personal digs.

>>One perfect example of an artist's book which contradicts the = >>definition >>you give in every sense is the work entitled "Bound Book"..."bound" by = >>a >>thick rope that has been wrapped and tied around the outside of the = >>book...

>blah, blah, blah. >What you refer to is a wry commentary on what people commonly believe a = >book >to be, as well as a visual pun in sculptural form. It is not an "artist's = >book"

Well, you're wrong, it is an artist's book. You don't have to like it, but dont' try and classify it as something else.

Jennifer

 

From: Seko Julia sekoj__at__STRIPE.COLORADO.EDU
Subject: Re: book or sculpture? Another comment

But does the artist intend for the book to be opened and read? I think one should be able to go _into_ books--read them, turn pages, unfold them, flip tabs, ooh at images, try to figure out how to put the blasted thing back together again--not just ponder whether or not it's supposed to be opened. I guess I would consider the piece a clever comment on books but not really a book itself.

Just my two cents.

Julie Seko

On Mon, 9 Mar 1998, Claudia Stall wrote:

> Could it be a book-in-waiting? ;) I guess it will be a book when it is > capable of being read. > > Boy, this gets tangled up! Great discussion. > > C. Stall > > At 05:31 PM 03/09/1998 -0500, you wrote: > >>>This discuss brings to mind an art piece done by Mary Scott from Calgary, > >>>Alberta Canada that always intrigued me. > >>> > >>>She wrote a narration on several pages using a syringe filled with paint. > >>>With this method she created a stack of sheets measuring about 4 inches by > >>>5 inchs and about 1 1/2 inches thick. The stack was bound by jute, package > >>>style with a bow on top so that the contents could not be read, only the > >>>top sheet. >>Colette Vosberg

 

From: Sally Jackson serifm__at__FASTLANE.NET
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists B

Sam posed the question

OK, Richard. What acts does an artist "commit" that designate him/her as an artist?

While I'm not Richard, I'd like to jump into this. IMHO, art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. The definition of art as something that elicits emotion is too vague, because many thing elicit emotion that are clearly not art - murder, for one. I think that art is something that two people, the maker and the viewer, agree on. Just as one person's truth isn't necessarily the other person's truth, so, too with art. I would happily hang Titian's "Uomo con Occhie de Grigio-verde" in my house, or display the bronze Poseidon in the Athens museum, I would not hang/display the much discussed urinal. It is not, in my view, art.

I can't resist quoting Ashleigh Brilliant: "Not all of our artists are playing a joke on the public. Some of them are genuinely mad."

Sally Jackson

 

From: Claudia Stall cstall__at__MAIL.SDSU.EDU
Subject: Re: book or sculpture?

Dear dev

Yeah, I guess that's just what I mean. Until it can be viewed it is just a stack of papers.

CStall >> >>Do you mean to imply then, that a bound collection of pages, contained >>within shrink wrap as one might receive from a mail-order source, does not >>become a book until the packaging is actually removed, thus allowing the >>movement? >> >>signed, devil's advocate

 

From: Paul Anderson paul__at__GEEKY1.EBTECH.NET
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----

On Tue, 10 Mar 1998, Sally Jackson wrote:

> > While I'm not Richard, I'd like to jump into this. IMHO, art, like > beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. > A short quote:

"A labourer works with his hands. A craftsman works with his hands and his head. An artist works with his hands, head and heart."

TTYL!

- --- Paul Anderson - Self-employed Megalomaniac paul__at__geeky1.ebtech.net  "With all due respect, you, sir, have the intellect of a pickle." FREE mailing lists setup - e-mail newlist__at__geeky1.ebtech.net for info

 

From: Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord sgaylord__at__SEACOAST.COM
Subject: Artist Book Questions

Dear Friends This whole discussion has been interesting. I have two thoughts that I'd like to share. One is in relation to what it is a book. I teach workshops for kids in Making Multicultural Books. There are palm leaf books, slat books from ancient China, scrolls, accordion books, codex, etc. While their forms differ, their reason for being is the same: religious writings, legal documents, accounts, poetry, preservation of knowledge in math, astronomy, medicine, science, etc. They preserve, clarify, record, inspire. The intent is the constant and the forms vary depending on the natural materials available. While it is their form and physicality that attracts me- I can't read any of the books I show them, I think that looking at the history of the book says that change will continue.

The second thought is about my own work. I came to making books from calligraphy. As I moved away from calligraphy, I spent a lot of time analyzing what calligraphy was, where it was going, why I felt it didn't fit me anymore, and I didn't fit in its world either. I learned about making books from books and worked on my own. I was trying to sort out what artist's books were all about and read Artist's books edited by Joan Lyons from the Visual Studies Workshop. I found all the analysis pretty overwhelming and decided not to worry about it and just go on my way. What I have liked so much about the book arts, using that term to encompass the whole range, is how welcoming it is. I feel I have found a place where my work can fit and I feel comfortable. The fact that it is so hard to agree on a definition may make life difficult for art historians and critics, but I think it is wonderful for artists.

in good spirit, Susan Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord Newburyport, MA

 

From: Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord sgaylord__at__SEACOAST.COM
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book

Dear Friends,

as an addition to paul Andrson's quote, "A labourer works with his hands. A craftsman works with his hands and his head. An artist works with his hands, head and heart."

I'd just like to add one from a little book I did called The Artist's Tools the hand, the head, the eyes,the hearty, the soul

in good spirit, Susan

From: Dorothy Africa africa__at__LAW.HARVARD.EDU
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book

In the interests of helping this discussion along I'd like to introduce a useful distinction. It is customary, in academic discussions at least, to refer to a literary work, exclusive of its physical medium, as a text. Thus the various titles by Keith Smith when in the form of sheets are "texts", once bound, books. Needless to say, the distinction is not rigorously adhered to, but it can be helpful in making precise arguments. I do not consider electronic texts to be books. It is an entirely different medium and deserves to be respected as such. In time I think a separate vocabulary will evolve for the electronic media world and our current difficulties of "howdya call it" will be resolved. I guess I am up to 4 cents now. Dorothy

From: Sam Lanham slanham__at__HCTC.NET
Subject: Re: Artists book

Judith wrote: Language is a consensus concerning useful >>ranges of unavoidable fuzzynesses, not sharp distinctions.

And Sally said:

IMHO, art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. The definition of art as something that elicits emotion is too vague, because many thing elicit emotion that are clearly not art . . . I think that art is something that two people, the maker and the viewer, agree on.

I want to push the matter of consensus. I think art is language and what Judith wrote about language is applicable to art. At some point in the discussion it was stated that an object is art if the artist intends it to be. Sally applies to art the well known position that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So, we have art defined by two subjective judgments---the artist, on the one hand, and the beholder on the other. Must there be a consensus between the two in order for the object to be art? What is the significance, if any, of a consensus among many beholders? What if the beholders differ from the creator of the object who may not have intended the object as art at all? Or the more likely reverse?

It seems to me that historically art has been identified as such because of a consensus (sometimes contemporary with the artist, often not) of many beholders, frequently over time. This helps remove the matter from the purely subjective since among many beholders in agreement there can usually be discerned some common value principles or yardsticks that are being used, probably subconsciously, to identify the creation as art. Value principles change over time as art evolves and are debatable as to relevance at any given time. But at least they permit the conversation to continue, whereas a purely subjective approach results in "I think it's art" vs. "I don't"---end of discussion.

So what are the value principles we are applying? Berwyn mentions the two main categories--form and function. There can be value principles in both categories. We may disagree as to the value, importance, or relevance vel non of any given principle but the discussion can be organized this way.

Sam Lanham

Sam Lanham (slanham__at__hctc.net)

 

From: Steven C Daiber daiber__at__javanet.com
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book

A very interessting conversation on lthe artist book. It is architecture, I was told by crusty old fart looking at my books for the first time that he didn't know what making a book was about, but he did understand what building a book was and perhaps i should change my langage.

Coming to the book arts from painting, artist books for me are a medium-akin to printing painting drawing ceramics etc. A vehicacal to move my visual, intulectual message to a wider audience.

excuse the spell errors I'm deslexic

Steve

 

From: Doug Philips dwp__at__TRANSARC.COM
Organization: Transarc Corporation
Subject: Re: Book or sculpture?

On Mon, 9 Mar 1998, BerwynH indited:

+You can buy Keith Smith's books in loose folios. So I guess that would mean +they are not books since they have not been bound and only the act of binding +creates the book....

Aha! But if they aren't a book until they're bound, what are you buying? Surely not a book, since it doesn't exist yet, at least not in the strictest sense. Perhaps a concrete form of a John Cage composition then, not a book, but a recipe for book, including the ingredients! But, say I bind my book so that the folios are not arranged in page number order, but in some other order. Perhaps I'll take a micrometer and measure them all and bind them by thickness, or similarly by weight, or color. A book that is and is not the one I was sold?

-Doug

 

From: "Judith B. Kerman" kerman__at__svsu.edu
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book

Thanks for both versions of this, Paul and Susan. I'll give it to my poetry students...

> "A labourer works with his hands. > A craftsman works with his hands and his head. > An artist works with his hands, head and heart." > > I'd just like to add one from a little book I did called > The Artist's Tools > the hand, the head, the eyes,the hearty, the soul

_________ |\ /| /________/( |? \ / ?| (________(/(___ |??? \/ ???| /_(________(/__/( | Judy | (______________(/( | Kerman | (Mayapple Press(/( | Saginaw, | (______________(/ \ ? MI ? / \ ?? / http://www.cris.com/~Jkerman   \/

 

From: Art Rubino Art_Rubino__at__CLASSIC.MSN.COM
Subject: Re: Artists book

Well, I guess the artist should discuss this with his/her mother first of all.

Judith wrote: Language is a consensus concerning useful >>ranges of unavoidable fuzzynesses, not sharp distinctions.

And Sally said:

IMHO, art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. The definition of art as something that elicits emotion is too vague, because many thing elicit emotion that are clearly not art . . . I think that art is something that two people, the maker and the viewer, agree on.

 

From: Dorothy Africa africa__at__LAW.HARVARD.EDU
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book

Just out of curiousity, is there a craftsperson on the list who would accept this definition of craftsman?? I certainly wouldn't!! I think it is a pretty poor definition, compared to that of, say, David Pye, though it is certainly shorter than his book. Brevity isn't always a virtue.

Dorothy Africa

> Thanks for both versions of this, Paul and Susan. I'll give it to my > poetry students... > > > "A labourer works with his hands. > > A craftsman works with his hands and his head. > > An artist works with his hands, head and heart." > > > > I'd just like to add one from a little book I did called > > The Artist's Tools > > the hand, the head, the eyes,the hearty, the soul > > _________ > |\ /| /________/( > |? \ / ?| (________(/(___ > |??? \/ ???| /_(________(/__/( > | Judy | (______________(/( > | Kerman | (Mayapple Press(/( > | Saginaw, | (______________(/ > \ ? MI ? / > \ ?? / http://www.cris.com/~Jkerman  > \/ >

 

From: "Paul Anderson" paul__at__geeky1.ebtech.net
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists Book

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On Wed, 11 Mar 1998, Dorothy Africa wrote:

> Just out of curiousity, is there a craftsperson on the list who would > accept this definition of craftsman?? > Well, how WOULD you define craftsman? It seems like a perfectly apt description. TTYL!

- --- Paul Anderson - Self-employed Megalomaniac paul__at__geeky1.ebtech.net  "With all due respect, you, sir, have the intellect of a pickle." FREE mailing lists setup - e-mail newlist__at__geeky1.ebtech.net for info

 

From: "Peter D. Verheyen" verheyen__at__philobiblon.com
Subject: Craftsman

1) Someone who has studied to learn a craft, either through formal instruction or autodidacticly. Formal instruction can be in the form of apprenticeship / real work experience, workshops, internships. The ability to actually "work" should play a role. (How would we differentiate craftsman from artisan?)

2) Continues on the basis that learning is a lifelong process (constant refreshing of skills and theoretical knowledge.

3) Works to the highest appropriate standards and pushes self to next highest level.

4) Willing and able to pass on their skills.

I guess a consummate professional.

Anyone else want to modify, add... destroy.

p.

>> In schoen gebunden Buechern blaettert man gern. <<
Peter D. Verheyen <wk> 315.443.9937 <fax> 315.443.9510 <Email> mailto:verheyen__at__philobiblon.com   <Webmaster> http://www.dreamscape.com/pdverhey   <Listowner> mailto:Book_Arts-L-request__at__listserv.syr.edu  

 

From: "John G. Henry" jhenry__at__WILLOWTREE.COM
Subject: Craftsman Defined

>On Wed, 11 Mar 1998, Dorothy Africa wrote: > >> Just out of curiousity, is there a craftsperson on the list who would >> accept this definition of craftsman?? >>

It occurs to me that it is the mind (creativity) that divides a crafsperson from an artist. If I were to rework the simplistic definition stated earlier I would have to juxtapose the final two lines as follows:

"A labourer works with hands alone. A craftsperson works with hands and heart. An artist works with hands, heart and head."

I think there are many craftspeople who produce fine work that gives them great pleasure and they put all of themselves into the task. Add a touch of inventiveness and creativity to those same labors and the work becomes a piece of art and the maker, an artist.

John G. Henry - Craftsman

 

From: Art Rubino Art_Rubino__at__CLASSIC.MSN.COM
Subject: Re: Craftsman Defined

Seems to me that these definitions are unacceptable.

Lots of craft wood workers, illustrators, basketmakers, etc. are imaginative and creative thinkers, many are really fine artists and designers. Some of course are not.

Lots of artists out there whose work looks completely mindless.

Art Rubino

 

From: Book_Arts-L: The list for all the book arts! on behalf of John G. Henry
Sent: Thursday, March 12, 1998 14:29 PM
Subject: Craftsman Defined

>On Wed, 11 Mar 1998, Dorothy Africa wrote: > >> Just out of curiousity, is there a craftsperson on the list who would >> accept this definition of craftsman?? >>

It occurs to me that it is the mind (creativity) that divides a crafsperson from an artist. If I were to rework the simplistic definition stated earlier I would have to juxtapose the final two lines as follows:

"A labourer works with hands alone. A craftsperson works with hands and heart. An artist works with hands, heart and head."

I think there are many craftspeople who produce fine work that gives them great pleasure and they put all of themselves into the task. Add a touch of inventiveness and creativity to those same labors and the work becomes a piece of art and the maker, an artist.

John G. Henry - Craftsman

 

From: Candace Cedotal redstic__at__INTERSURF.COM
Subject: Re: Craftsman Defined

I have been on a course of self-study the last year or so, learning the art of crafting books. I've crafted pamphlets, concertina books and books with complex Japanese stab bindings, to name a few; all from illustrated instructions I've found in other books written by book artisans. I've used different coverings and changed some of the materials from what was suggested in my "manuals" and even the dimensions. Most of these have been of the journal type or only embellished with a small bit of artwork inside or out.

But the other day, an idea occurred to me of how to use what I have learned and make a book unlike the others I have crafted. The form was suggested by the contents I had planned, which includes original text and art.

I believe it is this step that brings one away from the craftsman and approaches that part that is artist. The craftsman, however expertly and lovingly, produces something that has been bascially produced before, but may with his choice of materials or slight alterations slide over close to the realm of artist. The artist creates that which is wholly new and original, though may lean on the skill and expertise of his crafting skills to produce his work.

Mostly I am student. Sometimes, I am craftsman, and sometimes I approach the realm of artist. It is a very fine line.

Candace redstic__at__intersurf.com

 

From: Richard Miller rmiller__at__PETERBORO.NET
Subject: Re: Craftsman Defined

>Lots of artists out there whose work looks completely mindless.

And probably others whose work _is_ mindless ;-)

Richard.
---------------------------------------- Richard Miller rmiller__at__peterboro.net 

 

From: Charles Mohr ok livres__at__EARTHLINK.NET
Subject: Re: Craftsman Defined

A Craftsman is somebody who followed some sort of apprenticship, journeyman degree and may have even finished his masterdegree. At this various levels he should have the common knowledge which could be expected. In Europe to reach a masterdegree in one of 218 restricted Trades requires an average of 8 years in formal Training. restricted Trade means, that you had to have a mastersdegree before beeing allowed to open your own shop.!!(This laws are still valid.)

After achiving your mastersdegree in a Trade, you would be able to redefine your knowledge, skills and experience by working without a fixed schedule of things to learn, therefore following your own path and trying to reach a higher level of craftsmanship. At that level according to Handwerksrecht (Law of the Trade) one could call himselv an Artisan, after in general being recognized by the peers in your own Trade.

In the french and english (UK)language it become common to call a c.a.p. (certification apellation profesionel ) ((Journeyman) an artisan, as the Diplome de la Maitrise wasn't reuired for ones own shop.

The Artist - the Painter, sculptor etc. on the other hand is a totally different matter and shouldn't be neasured on the rules of the guild and Trade for craftsman in general.

charles mohr

 

From: "Janet L. Maher" jmar__at__QIS.NET
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists

I am also enjoying the game of definitions, and agree with Steve Daiber that the realm of the artist's book is one more vehicle of expression. There is a form for every idea, and books, bookworks, and book-like-things are more tools at hand for the artist, whether traditionally used or not.

Regarding non-narrative, non-sequential, non-manipulatable works that are called books, I too have a problem. I want the experience of reading, and the idea of pages--even if they are a metaphor--if I am to consider something a book, even though I will go to great extremes to include works in the category. I especially like pieces that stretch pretty far as art, while retaining a conceptual hold to the book. And I will always appreciate fine craftsmanship.

Over long distance my writer friend, Michelle Miller-Allen, and I have just completed a piece that plays in this territory. From months of our correspondence I made a sequence of 74 collaged, painted, and drawn "pages", which, when tied together at their corners, build into a double bed. Michelle made a quilt and two pillows from our words and images using paper, vinyl, all kinds of mixed media, and fabric.

While this is certainly a sculpture, I feel that the viewer participation (bending down, reaching over, moving the quilt/pillows, reading, reading, reading) also qualifies this as a book (bookwork, most likely). The quilt can be considered as a cover. And, when not installed, all the parts can be read up close, in one's lap. The bed turns into a series of accordion fold books when not completely dissassembled, and everything tucks back into a couple of boxes. (There's hidden structure underneath when installed).

There's a "real" book version of this, with paper pages, head, foot, spine, cover, reading stand, box, but I'll always think of the full-tilt installation as a book too.

Janet

~/.\~~~/.\~~~/.\~~~/.\~~~/.\~~~/.\~~~/.\~~~/.\~~~/.\~~~/.\~~~/.\~~~/.\~~~/.\~

Janet Maher, Assistant Professor, Department of Fine Arts Loyola College in Maryland, 4501 North Charles Street Baltimore, Maryland 21210-2699 (410-617-5545)
(web) http://www.qis.net/~jmar/index.balto.html   (email) jmar__at__qis.net
"Rise up nimbly and go on your strange journey to the ocean of meanings." --Rumi

 

From: Paul Anderson paul__at__GEEKY1.EBTECH.NET
Subject: Re: Craftsman Defined

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On Thu, 12 Mar 1998, Art Rubino wrote:

> > Lots of artists out there whose work looks completely mindless. > Then they're not artists, are they? Any idiot can throw a can of paint at a wall and call it art. TTYL!

- --- Paul Anderson - Self-employed Megalomaniac paul__at__geeky1.ebtech.net  "With all due respect, you, sir, have the intellect of a pickle." FREE mailing lists setup - e-mail newlist__at__geeky1.ebtech.net for info

 

From: Paul Anderson paul__at__GEEKY1.EBTECH.NET
Subject: Re: Craftsman Defined

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On Thu, 12 Mar 1998, Charles Mohr ok wrote:

> A Craftsman is somebody who followed some sort of apprenticship, > journeyman degree and may have even finished his masterdegree. > At this various levels he should have the common knowledge which could > be expected. > I know of plenty of craftsmen that have never gone through formal training. Yet, they are UNDENIABLY craftsmen. And, there are still more people that HAVE gone through formal training and could HARDLY be called craftsmen. IMHO, you're definition of craftsmen has no real relivance to what a craftsman actually is. TTYL!

- --- Paul Anderson - Self-employed Megalomaniac paul__at__geeky1.ebtech.net  "With all due respect, you, sir, have the intellect of a pickle." FREE mailing lists setup - e-mail newlist__at__geeky1.ebtech.net for info

 

From: "Dr. Brian A. Roberts" <brianr__at__MORGAN.UCS.MUN.CA> Subject: craft

well why not join in. 2 weeks ago our local weekly ran a full page article on my bindery and the "repair" work we do here. In this piece I used the word "craft" to describe what I do. Last week a local book collector took great offence to many of the things reported because he obviously missed the whole point - but - he did write in his rebuttal,

"I was interested in the article about book binder Brian Roberts and his wonderful craft (that gaffe aside)."

So I guess from this that some people do not hold this to be a craft. He goes on to decribe the work as "skilled handwork".

Good luck in defining this! I just enjoy working on the books. "Whether you want old books made new or new books just made, call us - The Book Doctor"

Best wishes to all and to all a good night.

Dr. Brian A. Roberts Memorial University of Newfoundland

 

From: Sam Lanham slanham__at__HCTC.NET
Subject: Re: Craftsman Defined

At 06:33 PM 3/12/98 -0400, you wrote: >>Lots of artists out there whose work looks completely mindless. > >And probably others whose work _is_ mindless ;-) > And probably others whose work is considered mindless by the current consensus and will be judged the work of genius two generations from now.

Sam Lanham Sam Lanham (slanham__at__hctc.net)

 

From: Art Rubino Art_Rubino__at__CLASSIC.MSN.COM
Subject: Re: Craftsman & Artists

On Thu, 12 Mar 1998, Art Rubino wrote:

> > Lots of artists out there whose work looks completely mindless. > Then they're not artists, are they? Any idiot can throw a can of paint at a wall and call it art. TTYL!

- --- Paul Anderson - Self-employed Megalomaniac paul__at__geeky1.ebtech.net  "With all due respect, you, sir, have the intellect of a pickle." FREE mailing lists setup - e-mail newlist__at__geeky1.ebtech.net for info

Hello Paul

Well.............that is what I thought as well until, as a young man, I saw the work of Jackson Pollock at the MOMA in New York, and realized that here was raw emotion of great power in the form of art. No thinking involved. Now it is 40 years later, and I think that if it is man made and beautiful, it is art for somebody. No elaborate definition required.

No reason to diminish the craftsmen or try to box them into a corner of the art world. Any fine artist who is not a charlatan must also master his craft. Just as an example, I have many of the rare books that I sell restored or rebound in England by fine craft binders who work under contract for me. It is almost impossible to find such trained craftsman in the USA. These people have started out as apprentices and learned their craft by doing it under supervision. The books that they bind are often works of art. It takes them many years with little pay to become expert. There is a lot to it. It is not just an intellectual exercise. No book of instruction can teach you one tenth of what they know from the experience of binding 1,000 different fine books under the guidance of a master who has bound 10,000 fine books. I can see the difference between an amateur's proud attempt and a fine craft binding in one second flat. When I hear stuff on this list about so called artists who think that a book is a stack of paper written in wet paint and stuck together between covers of dried excrement, well sorry, but there is a tradition and a body of knowledge about the fine art of the bookbinder here that goes back many centuries that is being deliberately denied by people who have not paid their dues in training, do not have a clue about the skills required to bind a fine book and don't even have 'the intellect of a pickle'.. I use my delete key a lot.

Art Rubino Numismatic & Philatelic Arts of Santa Fe Antiquarian Book Sellers P.O. Box 9712 Santa Fe, NM 87504 USA Phone 505 982 8792 Fax 505 982 0291 Email Art_Rubino__at__msn.com

 

From: "Judith B. Kerman" kerman__at__svsu.edu
Subject: Re: Definition of the Artists

On Thu, 12 Mar 1998, Janet L. Maher wrote:

> the idea of pages--even if they are a metaphor--

To me, this feels like an important and/or useful part of the "book" concept...

> correspondence I made a sequence of 74 collaged, painted, and > drawn "pages", which, when tied together at their corners, build into a > double bed. Michelle made a quilt and two pillows from our words and > images using paper, vinyl, all kinds of mixed media, and fabric. [snip] > spine, cover, reading stand, box, but I'll always think of the full-tilt > installation as a book too.

Sounds like a great piece (in total and in segments).

_________ |\ /| /________/( |? \ / ?| (________(/(___ |??? \/ ???| /_(________(/__/( | Judy | (______________(/( | Kerman | (Mayapple Press(/( | Saginaw, | (______________(/ \ ? MI ? / \ ?? / http://www.cris.com/~Jkerman   \/

 

From: charles alexander chax__at__THERIVER.COM
Subject: Re: Craftsman Defined

>> Lots of artists out there whose work looks completely mindless. >> >Then they're not artists, are they? Any idiot can throw a can of paint at >a wall and call it art. TTYL!

True, and it's pretty difficult then to tell just what it is that makes it art for the one or two people who do it in some extraordinary way. Recently at an exhibition at San Francisco MOMA, I was astounded, not having been to that museum in more than twenty years (and never to the current building), to see how fresh and marvelous certain paintings by Clifford Still, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, and a few others still look. No 'idiots' there.

And please, criticize artists if you like with intelligent and constructive criticism, but don't call them idiots.

charles

 

From: Shireen Holman tholman__at__CLARK.NET
Subject: Re: artist's book

> >At 11:33 PM 3/8/98 -0700,KSenia Kopystynsk wrote: >>There are some problems I have on theoretical as well as practical >>level with the concept of an artist's book...When only expression is the most important factor, why to bother with all the binding stuff? We can use the services of commercial binderies if we need to bind some pages and leave the work of art to the artist. By the way, who has the rightto say "I am the artist so I say it is THE ART"? > >I think a lot of the griping I'm reading about artist's books and book artists has more to do with the quality of the art the writers are talking about than with the definition of artist's book. It's as though one were to say that there can't be such a thing as a painting or painters because there are such things as awful paintings. But then, of course, would you say that art is not art unless it's GOOD art (and, by whose definition?)? And, is a book not a book unless it's a GOOD book? > >Someone also seemed to have a problem with artist's books that are fragile and need to be handled with care. But artist's books are ARTWORKS. Artworks may or may not be fragile - they are not better or worse for that quality. They are not the same as, say, your favourite poetry in paperback, which you've read over and over until it's dogeared and worn, but which, if you spill coffee all over the pages, or your toddler tears them up, you can easily replace by dialing up Amazon.com!
***********************************************
Shireen Holman, Printmaker and Book Artist email: tholman__at__clark.net   http://www.clark.net/pub/tholman/shireen/index.htm
***********************************************

 

From: Charles Mohr ok livres__at__EARTHLINK.NET
Subject: [Fwd: Re: Craftsman Defined]

A Craftsman is somebody who followed some sort of apprenticship, journeyman degree and may have even finished his masterdegree. At this various levels he should have the common knowledge which could be expected. In Europe to reach a masterdegree in one of 218 restricted Trades requires an average of 8 years in formal Training. restricted Trade means, that you had to have a mastersdegree before beeing allowed to open your own shop.!!(This laws are still valid.)

After achiving your mastersdegree in a Trade, you would be able to redefine your knowledge, skills and experience by working without a fixed schedule of things to learn, therefore following your own path and trying to reach a higher level of craftsmanship. At that level according to Handwerksrecht (Law of the Trade) one could call himselv an Artisan, after in general being recognized by the peers in your own Trade.

In the french and english (UK)language it become common to call a c.a.p. (certification apellation profesionel ) ((Journeyman) an artisan, as the Diplome de la Maitrise wasn't reuired for ones own shop.

The Artist - the Painter, sculptor etc. on the other hand is a totally different matter and shouldn't be neasured on the rules of the guild and Trade for craftsman in general.

charles mohr

 

From: Leda Black LMB__at__MATH.AMS.ORG
Subject: Re: artist's book

Shireen Holman wrote: >I think a lot of the griping I'm reading about artist's books and book artists has more to do with the quality of the art the writers are talking about than with the definition of artist's book. It's as though one were to say that there can't be such a thing as a painting or painters because there are such things as awful paintings. But then, of course, would you say that art is not art unless it's GOOD art (and, by whose definition?)? And, is a book not a book unless it's a GOOD book?

This is exactly what I meant so long ago when I proposed the simple definition: a book made by an artist. All this other stuff is gloss on the quality of the work or value judgements. Clearly, a discussion of what makes a GOOD artist's book is valid, it should just not get confused with the definition.

As for value... my pet peeve is books that aren't worth reading, or books that are full of typos. Content is very important to me but I think it is often ignored in favor of clever structures or yummy gratuitously "pretty" materials. C'est ca, L. Black, imp.

 

From: Paul Anderson paul__at__GEEKY1.EBTECH.NET
Subject: Re: Craftsman Defined

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On Fri, 13 Mar 1998, charles alexander wrote:

> > And please, criticize artists if you like with intelligent and constructive > criticism, but don't call them idiots. > Did I call anyone an idiot? I don't think so. I was just saying that it doesn't take a genius to heave a bucket of paint on the wall and call it art, that is a fact. I doubt there's a single person without significant disabilities that couldn't find a large wall, take the lid off a bucket of paint, and throw the bucket at the wall. It's a fairly simple act, requiring almost no skill. An artist, to be an artist, must put thought and effort into the peice, and be at the very least trying to make something aesthetically pleasing. Throwing a bucket of paint at a wall merely requires the forethought to ask someone if you can use the wall. Therefore, it is not art. TTYL!

- --- Paul Anderson - Self-employed Megalomaniac paul__at__geeky1.ebtech.net  "With all due respect, you, sir, have the intellect of a pickle." FREE mailing lists setup - e-mail newlist__at__geeky1.ebtech.net for info

 

From: James Trent trent__at__mail.ameritel.net
Subject: Re: Craftsman Defined

John G. Henry wrote:

> "A labourer works with hands alone. > A craftsperson works with hands and heart. > An artist works with hands, heart and head." > > I think there are many craftspeople who produce fine work that gives them > great pleasure and they put all of themselves into the task. Add a touch of > inventiveness and creativity to those same labors and the work becomes a > piece of art and the maker, an artist. > > John G. Henry - Craftsman

I never thought of bookbinding as an art until I read the above. However, I belong to an antique radio organization and I have been binding their monthly newsletters into volumes. In lieu of gold stamping the title on the cover, I have placed an Icon on the cover. To do this, after making the book, I do the following while making the case. First I make a suitable drawing of the Icon (table radio, tubes, schematics, etc.) and cut out a stencil like image. Next I cover the front case board with a contrasting color from the case buckram color. Then using the stencil, I cut the design into the case buckram in the area of the front board. The boards are then glued to the buckram and the case finished as usual. Now the front board cloth color shows thru the case buckram stencil area and makes the desired image.

I don't know if this makes my bookbinding an art or a craft but its an idea that I haven't seen in any of the bookbinding manuals I own.

This is my first posting to the list. My wife and I have been bookbinding for about 15 years now and is something we can share now that the children are grown.

Jim Trent

 

From: Joyce Jenkins joycej__at__MUSKOX.ALASKA.EDU
Subject: Re: Craftsman Defined

James I didn't quite follow what you meant. Is this like reverse applque--that is the ground fabric shows through a design cut in the top fabric? Do you have trouble with loose threads or edges curling or glue seeping out? Does the double weight of book cloth cause the board to warp?

I have put a pattern on bookcloth with a simple block print sewing oil based ink. It came out very nice though it was a bit scary since I did it after the book was constructed to make it easier to get in the right place.

Welcome to the list. It's nice to have new voices.

Joyce Jenkins Petersburg Public Library Alaska

 

From: Richard Millert  rmiller__at__peterboro.net  
Subject: Re: Craftsman Defined

Sam wrote:

>And probably others whose work is considered mindless by the current >consensus and will be judged the work of genius two generations from now.

which finally prompted me to contribute the following highly personal and not particularly articulate rant.

Many people, schooled and otherwise, have this hangup about "Art" and "Artists". Duchamp's urinal, mentioned earlier, proved once and for all, that art is whatever we want it to be; that any work (object, composition, dance, thought, etc) in the right situation or context (time and space) *can* be considered to transcend its fellows (other urinals, for example), or simply be sublime in its own right, and be "Art". If only one person considers it to be Art, then -- for that person -- it *is* Art, and if that person can convince sufficient others then for *all* of them it is Art. Obviously, if no one considers it Art, then it isn't.

Further, art is generally considered to be works such as painting, sculpture, musical compositions, dance, etc, therefore those who create such works are artists. If I paint, I am an artist. If I call myself an artist, no one can say with certainty otherwise. They may say I am not a good artist but that is only their opinion. If five people think I am a good artist, and five people think I'm not, then what am I? It depends upon whom you ask. Those painters who are considered to be great artists convinced sufficient others (through words or work) to be thought so. Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema used to be considered a great artist: today, most people haven't heard of him and of those who have, most consider him to have been not so great. Europe used to be almost crowded with court painters, musicians, etc, who were in their time, celebrated: today they are forgotten except by a few dusty scholars. Times change, tastes change, circumstances change; and life goes on.

The long and the short of all this is that if Mary Smith calls herslf an artist, and makes what she calls artists books (with or without the apostrophe), then who is to say otherwise. Some will, of course, say she is not, or her works are not art but might be craft, or whatever, but to her friends, family, acquaintances, and maybe even some critics (remember, everyone's a critic) she is considered an Artist and what she does is considered Art. Only time will tell if it really is art, and for how long it will remain so.

Respectfully submitted, Richard.
---------------------------------------- Richard Miller rmiller__at__peterboro.net

 

Thank you, Richard Miller, for your very rational observations. In my opinion, this is the sanest comment on Artists' Books to appear during this entire thread. Artists really aren't all that threatening, even when they are messing around in your territory.

Melissa Jay Craig Chicago

>>>Many people, schooled and otherwise, have this hangup about "Art" and "Artists". Duchamp's urinal, mentioned earlier, proved once and for all, that art is whatever we want it to be; that any work (object, composition, dance, thought, etc) in the right situation or context (time and space) *can* be considered to transcend its fellows (other urinals, for example), or simply be sublime in its own right, and be "Art". If only one person considers it to be Art, then -- for that person -- it *is* Art, and if that person can convince sufficient others then for *all* of them it is Art. Obviously, if no one considers it Art, then it isn't.

Further, art is generally considered to be works such as painting, sculpture, musical compositions, dance, etc, therefore those who create such works are artists. If I paint, I am an artist. If I call myself an artist, no one can say with certainty otherwise. They may say I am not a good artist but that is only their opinion. If five people think I am a good artist, and five people think I'm not, then what am I? It depends upon whom you ask. Those painters who are considered to be great artists convinced sufficient others (through words or work) to be thought so. Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema used to be considered a great artist: today, most people haven't heard of him and of those who have, most consider him to have been not so great. Europe used to be almost crowded with court painters, musicians, etc, who were in their time, celebrated: today they are forgotten except by a few dusty scholars. Times change, tastes change, circumstances change; and life goes on.

The long and the short of all this is that if Mary Smith calls herslf an artist, and makes what she calls artists books (with or without the apostrophe), then who is to say otherwise. Some will, of course, say she is not, or her works are not art but might be craft, or whatever, but to her friends, family, acquaintances, and maybe even some critics (remember, everyone's a critic) she is considered an Artist and what she does is considered Art. Only time will tell if it really is art, and for how long it will remain so.

Respectfully submitted, Richard.

 

From: Paul Anderson paul__at__geeky1.ebtech.net

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On Fri, 13 Mar 1998, Richard Miller wrote:

> If I paint, I am an artist. If I call myself an > artist, no one can say with certainty otherwise. > Yeah, but are you an artist if it's paint-by-numbers? Is a two-year-old finger-painting to be called art? The criterion for an artist is that he must "work with his heart, head and hands", this implies the requirement of a certain level of skill. Picasso, Leonardo DaVinci, etc. at least they had SKILL. They could paint an excellent portrait of someone if they chose to. Likewise, great poets, musicians, sculptors - they all had skill. They where GOOD at what they did. To merely paint does not elevate one to be an artist, no more than using a computer instantly makes you a programmer. TTYL!

- --- Paul Anderson - Self-employed Megalomaniac paul__at__geeky1.ebtech.net  "With all due respect, you, sir, have the intellect of a pickle." FREE mailing lists setup - e-mail newlist__at__geeky1.ebtech.net for info

 

From "Jack C. Thompson" tcl__at__TELEPORT.COM
Subject Re Craftsman & Artists

>From: Art Rubino Art_Rubino__at__CLASSIC.MSN.COM
>Subject: Re: Craftsman & Artists

>Any fine artist who is not a charlatan must also master his craft. >Just as an example, I have many of the rare books that I sell >restored or rebound in England by fine craft binders who work under >contract for me. It is almost impossible to find such trained >craftsman in the USA.

This is not the place to discuss my business reasons for not contracting with dealers for conservation work (other than to say that we each have very different ideas about the value of work....).

However, it may not be out of place to comment that during the time when I employed staff I once hired a British trained book conservator. Traditional apprenticeship through finishing/gold tooling. In the end, I had to let him go because his working methods did not come up to the standards we have come to expect in North America. Perfectly good enough in the UK, but....

I hosted Hugo Peller while he taught a month-long workshop in my lab. Many gold and silver medals; designer books of his in any number of National Libraries.

When he spun the wheel down on my guillotine and the pin sheared off he was taken aback and apologized for making me call in a repairman. "Call in a repairman? Why?" I drove the pin out, took its' measure, and turned a bit of scrap iron in the lab. Then I drove the new pin in and the workshop went on as before. Hugo was amazed; in Switzerland a specialist would have been called in.

Much is made of traditional apprenticeships, and there are some things which may be passed on from one generation to the next which are not written down in books. But how important are they?

Advances in any craft or trade are made by people who go beyond *traditional* training, and it has always been so. The phrase, "going beyond their training" implies a mentor, but it need not always be a physical mentor; the teacher need not be present when the learning happens.

Altogether too much is made of *years* of apprenticeship. I have studied this matter and have come to the conclusion that *years* of apprenticeship is another word for exclusion; i.e., a union. Now, I am all in favor of unions because I have enough time in grade to have seen what can happen in "Right-to-Work" states (in the US), and it is not good. But blind obedience to any system of education, including apprenticeships, is also a mistake.

I was trained as an electrician in the US Navy and served 4 years in that capacity, during which time I was made one of a two-man team selected to build a completely new type of circuit which I helped to design and which then went into service throughout the fleet.

After 4 years, I took my discharge and applied to become a union electrician. The union examined my record and told me that my years of training and experience was worth 6 months off their 4 year apprenticeship program.... I inquired about their 4 year program, to learn what manner of knowledge would be imparted to me. Upon careful review of their training program I learned that the only *new* thing which they had to teach me consisted of 6 months of conduit bending. We did not use any conduit on shipboard. Not during my time.

I went to a hardware store to look at conduit and conduit benders; I went to some warehouses to look at exposed conduit so as to understand something more about the mystery of bending conduit. It did not seem to me that it would take 6 months to learn the mysteries of bending conduit. But, union rules....

A few months later I started college and never looked back; stiff neck....

This is probably the time to state that I consider myself to be a mechanic. Neither an artist, nor an artisan, but a mechanic. A pretty damned good one, but nothing more.

My wife is not a good mechanic. She can cross thread a light bulb (and has done so). She has many good qualities, which is why we have remained married for 25 years (I suppose that I have one or two good qualities also, which may explain why she has remained married to me [this message brought to you by the PC police...].

The point of this posting is that some people have a sense of materials and some do not; some are color blind and some are not, etc.

As for the question of whether or not an artist *must* master his craft, I remember that many artists, when confronted by examples of their art which were falling to pieces stumbled back and said, "I didn't know it would do that!"

I paraphrase, but I have been restoring art work for so many years that I have engaged in this sort of conversation with a number of living artists (this is not the venue for relating names, but they would all be recognizable to the majority of readers of this listserv).

It is better for all concerned when an *artist* pays enough attention to detail that their works do not fall to pieces until after they have passed from the scene. Unlike Michaelangelo, who had any number of problems with his art work during his lifetime; or Leonardo, whose "Last Supper" was dismembering itself during the years that he was painting it.

That does not mean that I am willing to accept as a book whatever an artist/artisan may declare to be a book.

I accept their right to proclaim, but retain my right to accept.

Art Rubino states that "It is almost impossible to find such trained craftsman in the USA." and there is some justice in that; it is also the case that dealers (antique and book) are not often willing to pay the price which we require in this country.

Enough.
Cheers, Jack

Jack C. Thompson Thompson Conservation Lab Portland, Oregon USA
www.teleport.com/~tcl
"The lyfe so short; the craft so long to lerne." Chaucer, _The Parlement of Foules_ 1386.

 

From Steven C Daiber daiber__at__javanet.com
Subject Re Hear Hear-Craftsman & Artists

> When I >hear stuff on this list about so called artists who >think that a book is a stack of paper written in wet >paint and stuck together between covers of dried excrement, >well sorry, but there is a tradition and a body >of knowledge about the fine art of the bookbinder >here that goes back many centuries that is being deliberately >denied by people who have not paid their dues in training, >do not have a clue about the skills required to bind a fine book and >don't even have 'the intellect of a pickle'..

The tradition is important! and a good place to push off from. Pollack probably never would of dripped paint on a canvas if he hadn't had for a teacher Thomas HArt Benson- who if my art history serves me was a very demanding traditionalist

Steve

 

From Steven C Daiber daiber__at__javanet.com
Subject Re Hear Hear-Craftsman & Artists

In a message dated 98-03-14 02:53:02 EST, you write:

<< Yeah, but are you an artist if it's paint-by-numbers? Is a two-year-old finger-painting to be called art? The criterion for an artist is that he must "work with his heart, head and hands", this implies the requirement of a certain level of skill. Picasso, Leonardo DaVinci, etc. at least they had SKILL. They could paint an excellent portrait of someone if they chose to. Likewise, great poets, musicians, sculptors - they all had skill. They where GOOD at what they did. To merely paint does not elevate one to be an artist, no more than using a computer instantly makes you a programmer. TTYL! >>

AND, if you can bind a book excellently, using archival materials, but choose to make one from barbed wire and old tires? Do you still get flamed on the list?

Melissa Jay Craig, Chicago

 

From Yehuda Miklaf mfritz__at__netvision.net.il
Subject craft vs. art

I used to have two letters which I received in the early 70's, one from the Canada Arts Council and one from the Canada Crafts Council. Each one rejected my plea for a grant to study bookbinding, saying that it belonged in the province of the other. Bets regards, Yehuda Miklaf mfritz__at__netvision.net.il

 

From vosberg kirkhamb__at__CWDOM.DM
Subject Re Craftsman Defined

But what about the intent of WHY that bucket of paint was thrown against the wall. Is it the colour contrast, the shape, drips, form and markings of the splattering. Is it to be called a "marker", a moment of time, conceptual art, automatic art, or abstract?

I have seen an exhibit that was about an artist who weighed the amount of charcoal layered onto a sheet of paper until solid. Each piece was titled by the weight of charcoal. Would you call this person an idiot?

Please note - art does NOT have to be aesthetically pleasing in order to be art. Art is also the ARTISTS intention. Whether we think it is good or bad that is our opinion and of course we all have our own tastes. I have seen very few Conceptual Art pieces that I would say is aesthetically pleasing - does that mean it is bad art?

Colette Vosberg

Paul Anderson wrote:

> Did I call anyone an idiot? I don't think so. I was just saying that it > doesn't take a genius to heave a bucket of paint on the wall and call it > art, that is a fact. I doubt there's a single person without significant > disabilities that couldn't find a large wall, take the lid off a bucket of > paint, and throw the bucket at the wall. It's a fairly simple act, > requiring almost no skill. An artist, to be an artist, must put thought > and effort into the peice, and be at the very least trying to make > something aesthetically pleasing. Throwing a bucket of paint at a wall > merely requires the forethought to ask someone if you can use the wall. > Therefore, it is not art. TTYL! > > > > - --- > Paul Anderson - Self-employed Megalomaniac > paul__at__geeky1.ebtech.net > "With all due respect, you, sir, have the intellect of a pickle." > FREE mailing lists setup - e-mail newlist__at__geeky1.ebtech.net for info > > >

 

From Joyce Jenkins joycej__at__MUSKOX.ALASKA.EDU
Subject "We have no art"

Years ago I was a teaching assistant in Art 101 at the University of Hawaii and I remember a film from that class called "We have no art." It was a documentary about someplace where they did not have a separate category of stuff that was "art" versus "not art," but rather tried to do (and make) all things with grace and beauty. It is an attitude I liked and I really don't worry about whether the books I make are "art" or not.

And no, I don't want to try to define Grace, Beauty or Aesthetics!

Joyce Jenkins Petersburg PUblic Library Alaska

 

From Paul Anderson paul__at__GEEKY1.EBTECH.NET
Subject Re Craftsman Defined

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On Sat, 14 Mar 1998, vosberg wrote:

> > I have seen an exhibit that was about an artist who weighed the amount of > charcoal layered onto a sheet of paper until solid. Each piece was titled > by the weight of charcoal. Would you call this person an idiot? >

No, I would call him a deranged lunatic and have some friends in white coats take him away for a LONG vacation. Now, come on, get real here - since when is blackening paper with charcoal and then weighing it ART? You see, when you start letting people call whatever they want art, you wind up with this kind of garbage. Art should at least evoke an emotion, or be pleasant to look at. That requires skill and forethought. Blackening paper with coal and weighing fits NEITHER definition, _I_ can take coal and blacken paper with it. And, hey, if you want I'll even build a microgram balance and weigh it to down within .000001 grams! YET, it still wouldn't be art. A technical curiousity, perhaps, but not art. TTYL!

- --- Paul Anderson - Self-employed Megalomaniac paul__at__geeky1.ebtech.net  "With all due respect, you, sir, have the intellect of a pickle." FREE mailing lists setup - e-mail newlist__at__geeky1.ebtech.net for info

 

From Richard Minsky minsky__at__MINSKY.COM
Subject Artists' Books vs. Book Art

>AND, if you can bind a book excellently, using archival materials, but choose to make one from barbed wire and old tires? Do you still get flamed on the list?< ..........

HEY!-

I'm the guy who made the binding with barbed wire, as well as the one with live explosives and a timer. That was many years after doing the inlaid leather gold tooled bindings (which, by the way, I still make, because I love the materials and the process), and the repairs of the 15th & 16th c. bindings. I don't often get flamed on THIS list, but I have had similar experiences to Yehuda, starting with the art museum and the craft museum in New York in the mid 70's, before book arts were two words used adjacently, and which despite the supposed advances in our field does still happen.

I relate to Jack Thompson's use of "mechanic," though he's a much better mechanic than I. The European system of exclusion and specialization, as he so aptly points out, is quite different from American generalism, which I also advocate and practise. The European system ordained three people to bind a book-- the designer, forwarder, and finisher. People talk about Paul Bonet bindings, but I've never seen one. I've seen many that he designed, but which were bound by someone else and tooled by a third person. Of course, that system has changed even in Europe during the last couple of decades, and there are English and French binders who now follow the American system, as exemplified by such luminaries as Mary Reynolds. I have seen work by contemporary British "Designer Bookbinders" which is almost identical to Reynolds' bindings of over 50 years ago.

In the 70's there were many discussions about the Art/Craft Connection- is it Art or is it Craft?- in _Craft Horizons_ Magazine. If anyone cares I could probably find the citations. The panel generally consisted of myself, Dale Chihuly, John Kelsey, Pete Voulkos, and a few others. Rose Slivka was the Editor-in-Chief of that magazine for 25 years. Some of the younger folks on this list may not remember it, as when Rose left it they changed the format into a gallery-type glossy called _American Craft_. I recommend that those who are serious about the content of this thread go back and read or reread what was said, even though it was 20 or 25 years ago.

Just because I wrap a cover in electrical tape with batteries, wires and fireworks or do something else weird which communicates the metaphor of the contents, and it doesn't look like what anyone ever thought of as bookbinding, doesn't mean I haven't paid a lot of attention to every detail. If it's supposed to look like it was made by a mad scientist, then it can't have prissy structure.

And while I'm ranting, remember that a lot of books which are "fine bindings" have to be treated as "precious delicate objects" even though they have no pretense to being Art, but are proud to be well designed craft objects. Certain French bindings in particlar can't be opened without destroying them, because of overlined spines and other construction peculiarities required for their visual appearance. Do they then become "livres sculpture" because you can't get to the pages?

I never did like the term "artists' books" being applied to anything other than Visual Literature. If I want to see Artists' Books I go to the Printed Matter Bookstore (now at DIA), or to the Franklin Furnace Archive (now at MOMA). Mostly this means books by artists in which the content is visual or conceptual, usually in traditional commercial format (paperback, hardbound, spiral, wire-o, accordion, etc.). Some of these become "Book Art" objects as well, by using structure or materials which cause the physical presence of the book to be an integral part of the work. I further define things as "Structural Bookworks," "Livres Sculpture (or Book Objects, or Sculptural Bookworks)", "Typographic", "Fine Printing" (which includes all printing processes done finely, not just letterpress), and "Bookbinding."

I prefer the term "Book Arts" for the overall field which includes all these subcategories (and many others, such as Papermaking, Calligraphy, Matrix and Punch Cutting, Marbling, Book Repair and Restoration, Illustration, Page Design, etc.).

But as far as whether it's Art or not, I don't think it matters except for those of us who need to make certain decisions for curatorial, collecting, literary, or creative purposes. These sort of decisions, as others have pointed out, are transitory, and we can safely say that in a hundred years or five hundred years, if any of this stuff is still around and someone sees it, they will have their own opinions. The important thing to us now as artists is that we continue to produce whatever it is that we feel represents ourselves and our culture.

And if "Artists' Book" is a statement of result, in that it's a book by an artist, I'd rather stake my claim as a "Book Artist," which is a statement of intent: that the Book is my medium of Art. I don't make "artist's books." I make "Book Art," in the sense that others make painting or sculpture. It's important that the sophisticated viewer of my work bring with them the history of the book, from the use of caves to preserve human marks to the use of electronic media, in the same way that a sophisticated viewer of paintings brings with them the history of painting, from the same caves, through the walls of Egypt and the Chapels of Italy, through the Whitney Biennial and Documenta. Much in a painting comments on what has gone before. Throwing paint on the wall may be such a comment. Certainly rolling nude girls covered in paint on a canvas was. And Andy Warhol. The same is true in Book Art. Of course you'll find a lot of artists entering any field who don't know the history, and only bring their personal experience to the table. Sometimes that produces something that we all can learn from. If I see one new thing in a work I'm happy. Most of what I see is redundant.

It's like the difference between have a non-profit organization, which is any business that loses money, or a not-for-profit organization, where the statement is that it is not the INTENT of the business to have profit as its goal. More specifically, a not-for-profit corporation has no shareholdeers and no distributed profits. When I founded the Center for Book Arts in 1974 as a not-for-profit corporation, it was with the intent of establishing a focus on Book Art, and it was in large part because I had faced the same sort of chauvinism in art and craft institutions as Yehuda faced in Canada. And it worked! Artists and craftspeople came together and met, exchanged ideas, learned from each other, absorbed each others' methodologies, collaborated with each other. Strange book art objects inspired bookbinders. Craft structures and materials inspired artists. People came from all over the country, and from other countries, and went home and established their own versions of the organization, with classes, workshops and exhibitions. I doubt that there are very many people on this list who haven't been to one of these organizations, as a visitor to an exhibit, a student, an exhibiting or studio artist, a teacher, or as a collector acquiring work for themself or an institution.

What we have in Book Art that is different from Artists' Books is that BOOK ART is a MOVEMENT. Like Impressionism or Futurism, only without the "ism." Maybe we don't have a manifesto, or maybe we do. I'd coose Ulises Carrion's 'The New Art of Making Books." as a good choice in the Manifesto department.

My dream is that someday Judith Hoffberg and I would have the time to write a Book Art History. Judith has what may be the best sense of who's who and who's done what when. There are a few histories of Artists' Books, the main two being those by Joan Lyons and Johanna Drucker, but neither one includes Book Art and both have very particular points of view. Betty Bright was working on something for several years, but I haven't heard about it for quite a while. Hopefully that will soon be added to the literature.

It astounds me that anybody discussing the story of this movement could omit Barton Lidice Benes, Stella Waitzkin, or Marty Greenbaum. Yet hundreds of artists whose work is directly descended from their seminal creations have never heard of them! Hundreds more use Hedi Kyle's structures without knowing who she is. Someday we'll have to sort this all out.

I could go on ranting all night, but I have to cook dinner.

Love,

Richard http://minsky.com

 

From Sara Ellis sarae__at__JAMTV.COM
Organization JAMtv Corp.
Subject Re Craftsman Defined

Paul Anderson wrote:

> You see, when you start letting people call whatever they want art, you > wind up with this kind of garbage.

That's funny, I thought you wound up with free speech and freedom of expression...

Paul, I find your analogy, "To merely paint does not elevate one to be an artist, no more than using a computer instantly makes you a programmer," to be wonderful! I'd like to add to it that simply having an opinion on art (or whether something IS or IS NOT art) does not make one an art critic.

Can we please end this ridiculous, off-topic tirade? Or at least argue off-list? (I'm only declaring it ridiculous because it seems to be evolving into a personal battle that I fear has no resolution...)

Thanks,

sara

 

From Edith Abeyta mindmatr__at__teleport.com
Organization Mind Over Matter

Some artists find process more important than results. Check out the Dada and Fluxus art movements.

-- Mind Over Matter PO Box 12247 Portland OR 97212-0247 USA Tel/Fax 503-281-7233 mindmatr__at__teleport.com  http://www.teleport.com/~mindmatr

 

From QUEERBOOKS QUEERBOOKS__at__AOL.COM
Subject Re Craftsman Defined & Artists Books

Hi Richard,

HOORAY! Your comments on the nature of art and artist books were timely, articulate, and -- I think -- spoke for a lot of us. Your ideas were beautifully stated and clearly addressed a lot of the issues that other writers have favored, but have had a hard time expressing.

The next time you are looking for worthwhile material to include in the CBBAG Newsletter, I hope you will consider running your own essay. It deserves a wider readership.

My best, Ed

 

From ken and robin leslie charuby__at__PLAINFIELD.BYPASS.COM
Subject artist/craftsperson

>Did I call anyone an idiot? I don't think so. I was just saying that it >doesn't take a genius to heave a bucket of paint on the wall and call it >art, that is a fact. I doubt there's a single person without significant >disabilities that couldn't find a large wall, take the lid off a bucket of >paint, and throw the bucket at the wall. It's a fairly simple act, >requiring almost no skill. > >- --- >Paul Anderson - Self-employed Megalomaniac

This, I believe, points EXACTLY to the difference between the artist and the craftsperson. The FIRST person who threw a paint bucket at the wall was an artist--challenging our notions about what art is. Throwing the paint DIDN'T take skill--but thinking to do so DID. AFTERWARDS, every other "idiot" who threw a bucket in hopes of making art, is a craftsperson, following a recipe the first artist figured out.

Art is a metaphor that speaks about the experience of existence. Craft is the execution, the making, of an object. We admire a craftsperson who "does a good job" following the traditions, the standards, of making an object. We admire the artist who breaks down walls of expectation and tradition, who forges a new path. The craftsperson who invents the "new" is also an artist. The artist who executes an idea with consummate skill is also a craftsman. There have been great works of art that were very poorly made (Da Vinci's Last Supper, for one). Discounting by description alone a paint-throwing art work because it sounds as if "anyone could do it" is as grave a crime as judging a book by its cover. Some artists are craftspersons, some craftspersons are artists, but neither one nor the other gets a free ticket into both clubs.

Ken Leslie, Artist usually, craftsperson on occasion Charuby Press

 

From charles alexander chax__at__THERIVER.COM
Subject Re artist/craftsperson

>This, I believe, points EXACTLY to the difference between the artist and >the craftsperson. The FIRST person who threw a paint bucket at the wall >was an artist--challenging our notions about what art is. Throwing the >paint DIDN'T take skill--but thinking to do so DID. AFTERWARDS, every >other "idiot" who threw a bucket in hopes of making art, is a craftsperson, >following a recipe the first artist figured out.

So (to make a leap), by this definition, Cezanne may (historically, there may be argument) be the first person to cut up a painting's visual 'reality' in a way which is at least a precursor to cubism. And Picasso, Braques, Gris, and many others would be "idiots" who joined in the act, and they would be craftspersons. Can't they all be artists AND craftspeople? I don't think the first person to do a thing is the only one who can be called an artist.

charles

 

From CamilleEon CamilleEon__at__AOL.COM
Subject Book Art

<< I don't think the first person to do a thing is the only one who can be called an artist.>> <<What we have in Book Art that is different from Artists' Books is that BOOK ART is a MOVEMENT. Like Impressionism or Futurism, only without the "ism.">> <<It astounds me that anybody discussing the story of this movement could omit Barton Lidice Benes, Stella Waitzkin, or Marty Greenbaum. Yet hundreds of artists whose work is directly descended from their seminal creations have never heard of them! >>

I also want to thank you, Richard, for your rant. I don't know your barbed- wire book (though I have seen the explosive one), and just tossed that out as an example of a nontraditional material. If I use it again, I'll refer to you, since I also believe in giving credit where it's due. (There's a woman, whose name I will NOT mention who has published a fancy, pretty coffetable type manual on bookbinding who uses Heidi Kyle's structures without crediting her.) On the other hand, with all art movements, there is the phenomenon of certain ideas being "in the air". In Art History classes, I was always skeptical about this, but it has happened to me. In 1990 at the School of the Art Institute, a woman at my final Thesis critique accused me of plagiarizing an installation by the late Steven Cortright. She had just been at a Book Arts conference in NY and had seen slides of his. I had never heard of Cortright and shut her up by saying, "Maybe he saw MY work.", but I was quite upset and afterwards went to my advisors. They all apologized for not having pointed out Cortright's work to me, but none of them knew of the installation the woman had mentioned. I got Steven Cortright's address, wrote to him, he called me and we exchanged slides. There were definite similarities in the work and the thought processes behind it. We were both kind of amazed and began a correspondence- then suddenly I stopped hearing from him, and I learned a while later that he had passed away. The point being that what appears to be homage may not neccessarily be so.

Melissa jay Craig, Chicago

 

From "Eric Alstrom (740) 593-1363" ALSTROM__at__OUVAXA.CATS.OHIOU.EDU
Subject Re artists' books vs. book art

On Sat, 14 Mar 1998 18:52:28 Richard Minsky <minsky__at__MINSKY.COM> wrote:

>What we have in Book Art that is different from Artists' Books is that >BOOK ART is a MOVEMENT. Like Impressionism or Futurism, only without the >"ism." Maybe we don't have a manifesto, or maybe we do. I'd coose Ulises >Carrion's 'The New Art of Making Books." as a good choice in the Manifesto >department.

Maybe we need a new term for this thing called artists books. I do like Richard's use of the term "book arts" as an umbrella for binding, printing, typography, calligraphy, etc., which is pretty much how I have used the term.

But for the discussion of artists books, are we trying to define the term by using the term, which we all learned back in grade school was not allowed? And jumping on Richard's point that we don't have an "ism" to call ourselves, it is high time to give ourselves this title. All serious art movements have their "ism," right?

So let's get our name/title down first, then we can define ourselves. I'll start with a few ideas for discussion:

bookism (too plain, easy to identify) biblioism (again, it can be identified, but has more intellectual ties, and that is good) pageism (but that begins to pigeonhole us into having pages of some sort, which we have argued for and against) coverism (again, we have argued for and against the presence of covers) gatherism (since books, generally, gather together pages, ideas, processes into one unit, whether it is openable or not)

Just a few ideas, and a new (lighter) direction for this discussion. Although I have really enjoyed the ideas and conversation (and lack of flames!) will this ever end. I can't get any work done for reading all these messages!

Eric

+=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=+
Eric Alstrom Athens, Ohio ealstrom1__at__ohiou.edu
+=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=+
By all means leave the road when you wish. That is precisely the use of a road: to reach individually chosen points of departure. By all means break the rules, and break them beautifully, deliberately and well. That is one of the ends for which they exist. R. Bringhurst: The Elements of Typographic Style

 

From gary frost dryfrio__at__swtexas.net
Organization dry frio bindery
Subject artist' books vs. book art

on Saturday 14 March 01998 Richard Minsky wrote:

>And if "Artists' Book" is a statement of result, in that it's a book by an artist, I'd rather stake my claim as a "Book Artist", which is a statement of intent: that the Book is my medium of Art<

Richard has said it again. The act of imploding meaning or content into a book is a large, not a small, act. This is sometimes missed and bookbinders are the most guilty. Want to put some prints or photos into a book, some souvenirs of a trip?...no problem! In my view, the book artist needs to focus exactly on the transition, and be blatant. The great expositions here are Keith Smith's "Stucture of the Visual Book" and "Text in Book Format".

To take this a bit further, book art should continue to restate the advent of the codex in the context of digital communications. The advent of printing, frequently cited, is an empty metaphor here. That was a invisible transition...exactly because craftspeople were skilled enough to make it so. The transition to print did not disturb the reading mode. The advent of the codex is another thing. As the bibliographer Roger Chartier puts it: "The only change comparable to what is occurring now is perhaps the invention of the codex, which took place in the second or third century after Christ. ...In both cases you have a transformation of the structure of the support of the text and a transformation of the gesture, technologies, categories required by this structure, given to the text in the reader’s mind.”

This is a real handle. Every item of book art should reveal this large act of reinvention of the reading mode itself. In my view this is why the sewn board model of the earliest codex is such a potent medium for book art. In the Western sense this "out of Africa" model has nothing to do with bookbinding and everything to do with invention. This book structure is a parable for a new reading mode. The Dry Frio Bindery workshop trilogy of the Millennial Transfer Tape, Utopian Ethiopian and Post-Digital Sewn Boards bindings goes off in this direction, far...far.

I am very attracted to this list and to all the great traffic. I have not posted since 1994 so I introduce myself as a library conservator and fan of the future of the traditional book. I would add to the attribute list for Jack Thompson...he is a great listener. Many times he has gone cross-country through my ideas with great endurance and insight.

Gary Frost www.booklab.com

 link to Bonefolder Extras & link to Bonefolder


 

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