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Archive for February, 2012|Monthly archive page

SOB BASIC WIRTTEN WITH A WOODEN LAPTOP: TYPEWRITER AS ART PRACTICE

In Uncategorized on February 25, 2012 at 9:40 am

Steve McCaffery, panel from Carnival (1967-75)

 

 

This weekend David Berridge and Rachel Lois Clapham present DocU, a twenty four hour typing performance as part of inXclusion at East Side Arts Patrick Studios in Leeds.

In preparation for and as an accompaniment to this event, the following is a gathering of ideas and sources on the use of the typewriter in both historical and contemporary art and writing practices.

 

 

Image: Marianne Holm Hansen

Image: Marianne Holm Hansen

 

Such notes function as a personal set of annotations to historical gatherings such as Peter Finch’s 1972 anthology Typewriter Poems, in the introduction to which Finch asserts:

 

in some poetry there is rhythm, and there is rhyme, there is a metrical structure within which the poet expounds his ideas, spends his words. its hard work. in typewriter poetry there is no rhythm and there is no rhyme, but there is a metrical structure. the space bar, the ratcheted roller, the keys themselves. within those limits the poet explodes his ideas, burns his words. its not easy either. some poets are more structurally minded than others – they add and adapt the basic meter. coloured ribbons, masks, different pressures, overlaps. (5)

 

 

and scholarly studies of the field, inparticular Darrel Wershler- Henry’s The Iron Whim: A Fragmented History of Typewriting (McClelland & Stewart, 2005, Cornell UP, 2007) which begins:

 

Typewriting is dead, but its ghosts still haunt us. Even in our image-saturated culture, the iconic value of the typewriter looms large. Artfully grainy, sepia-toned, close-up photos of its quaint circular keys grace the covers of tastefully matte-laminated paperbacks, announcing yet another volume extolling the virtues of the writing life. In magazine and billboard ads, magnified blotchy serifed fonts mimic the look of text typed on letters that sit crookedly above or below the line with paradoxical consistency. On radio and TV, the rapid clatter of type bars hitting paper signals the beginning of news broadcasts. We all know what this sound means: important information will soon be conveyed. Typewriters may have been consigned to the dustbin of history, but their ghosts are everywhere.

What’s remarkable is not that typewriting continues to haunt us, but that typewriting itself was always haunted. (2)

 

 

Another starting point would be Michael Winslow’s The History of the Typewriter, included in Christian Bok’s VJ reel for Information as Materials Sounds Like This event at the Whitehapel Gallery last weekend, where it was projected on the multiple, mirroring screens of Josiah McElheney’s  The Past Was A Mirage I Had Left Far Behind:

 

 

 

18/02/11 On skype I ask RL what purpose a gathering of resources like this could serve in relation to the actual performance in Leeds.

RL: It gets that narrative out of the way as a form of research – retro aesthetics. On the day we enact it….  A distinct piece of web forethought… being excited about typewriters… afterwards the focus will be on writing, the product, how we were in the event…

 

 

MARY YACOOB writes: The book is called: “10 Ways X”, laserjet print A5 artist book, 2012. I typed the letter X on manual typewriter during the What is an Art Book event organised by the Modern Language Experiment at the Mews Project Space in Whitechapel in Autumn 2011.

 

 

I was surprised to see that the top half of the X was printed black and the bottom half was printed black, perhaps because the ribbons crossed.

So I scanned and enlarged the letter X and set out finding a method by which to map the location and tone of the reds and blacks, using geographical and spatial metaphors and scientific visual languages to observe, quantify, measure, classify, and notate.

My first drawing was in black and white and was included in the compendium of typewritten drawings and texts by about 50 artists in the What is an Art Book publication by Modern Language Experiment. A couple of weeks later I started a new artist book in response to the call out by Bookartbookshop on the theme of “X = Or What is to be done?”.

This artist book used the black and white drawing I’d already made as a book cover, and I made a further 10 colour drawings of 10 different methods by which to map the red and black colours and tones of the typewritten letter.

 

 

 

DB: Good morning typewriter. I’m trying to think how our relationship can not be primarily nostalgic.

 

NOTE: This notion of personally addressing your typewriter is adapted from a quotation by Hannah Weiner, that both RL and DB copy out to send to the other, finding it (again) in Thom Donovan’s article in Jacket2 on “intense autobiography.” Weiner observes:

 

I bought a new typewriter in January 74 and said quite clearly, perhaps aloud, to the words ( I talked to them as if they were separate from me, as indeed the part of my mind they come from is not known to me) I have this new typewriter and can only type lowercase, capitals, or underlines (somehow I forgot, ignored or couldn’t cope with in the speed I was seeing things, a fourth voice, underlined capitals)  so you will have to settle yourselves into three different prints. Thereafter I typed the large printed words I saw in CAPITALS, the words that appeared on the typewriter or the paper I was typing on in underlines (italics) and wrote the part of the journal that was unseen, my own words, in regular upper and lower case.

 

 

SOURCE: Hannah Weiner’s Open House, ed. Patrick F. Durgin, Kenning Editions, 2007)

 

 

 

 

 

From the beginning of Charles Olson’s Projective Verse the typewriter is integral as instrument and paradigm: a poetry based upon “the kinetics of the thing”; poem as “energy discharge” and “If I hammer, if I recall in, and keep calling in, the breath…” It is two thirds of the way through before the connection is made explicit:

 

The irony is, from the machine has come one gain not yet sufficiently observed or used, but which leads directly on toward projective verse and its consequences. It is the advantage of the typewriter that, due to its rigidity and its space precisions, it can, for a poet, indicate exactly the breath, the pauses ,the suspensions even of syllables, the juxtapositions even of parts of phrases, which he intends. For the first time the poet has the stave and bar a musician has had. For the first time he can, without the convention of rime and meter, record the listening he has done to his own speech and by that one indicate how he would want any reader, silently or otherwise, to voice his work.

It is time we picked the fruits of the experiments of Cummings, Pound, Williams, each of whom has, after his way, already used the machine as a scoring to his composing, as a script to its vocalization. It is now only a matter of the recognition of the conventions of composition by field for us to bring into being an open verse as formal as the closed, with all its traditional advantages. (245)

 

Olson goes on to suggest some beginning components of this typewriter-grammar:

 

If a contemporary poet leaves a space as long as the phrase before it, he means that space to be held, by the breath, an equal length of time. If he suspends a word or syllable at the end of a line (this was most Cummings’ addition) he means that time to pass that it takes the eye – that hair of time suspended – to pick up the next line. If he wishes a pause so light that it hardly separates the words, yet does not want a comma – which is an interruption of the meaning rather than the sounding of the line – follow him when he uses a symbol the typewriter has ready to hand:

What does not change/ is the will to change

Observe him, when he takes advantage of the machine’s multiple margins, to juxtapose:

Sd he:
  to dream takes no effort
     to think is easy
        to act is more difficult
     but for a man to act after he has taken thought, this!
is the most difficult thing of all

Each of these lines is a progressing of both the meaning and the breathing forward, and then a backing up, without a progress of any kind of movement outside the unit of time local to the idea. (246)

 

As Olson concludes:

 

But what I want to emphasize here, by the emphasis on the typewriter as the personal and instantaneous recorder of the poet’s work, is the already projective nature of verse as the sons of Pound and Williams are practicing it. Already they are composing as though verse was to have the reading its writing involved, as though not the eye but the ear was to be its measurer, as though the intervals of its composition could be so carefully put down as to be precisely the intervals of its registration. For the ear, which once had the burden of memory to quicken it (rime & regular cadence were its aids and have merely lived on in print after the oral necessities were ended) can now again, that the poet has his means, be the threshold of projective verse. (246)

 

 

SOURCE: Donald Allen and Benjamin Friedlander eds. Collected Prose, Charles Olson (University of California Press, 1997).

 

 

RL: The sound is key (of the keys).

 

 I come across typewriters, seemingly ready for use, after climbing the stairs to the Sylvia Beach library at Shakespeare and Company in Paris.

 

Janice Kerbel, Underwood (2004)

 

 

Some choreography: The writer sat at the typewriter. Pages pulled out of the machine, screwed up and thrown into the bin. We should have bins, RL and DB agree on skype, although as resources to be rummaged in for language when needed rather than trash awaiting collection and removal.

Perhaps, suggests RL, our bins  could be at the other end of the table, on opposite sides, because throwing things into/ at the bin is an important part of this particular routine.

I like this idea, imagining how each of us types amongst a diagonal airborn flurry of the other’s rubbish…

 

 

off from Weiner and Olson into  histories/ practices of poetry: Jack Kerouac (in Capote’s quote) not writing but typing; the centred on the page poems of Michael McClure, which required a practice of counting spaces and letters (the courier font’s democracy of the equal letter size).

Larry Eigner: “with only my right index finger to type with I never could write very fast – to say what I want to when I think of it, before I forget it or how to say it… I typed fast enough back when to be familiar enough with the keyboard to work in the dark or dusk with one finger…” (149)

Cid Corman describes Eigner’s method as he encountered it as an editor and also suggests how it connects to a particular mode of attention and ways of understand the perception- body- typewriter connection:

 

Larry generally seems to work off his typewriter on a single sheet of paper, sometimes on both sides, sometimes in margins, crowding more than one poem on a page, or more unusually on larger outsize sheets (devised or somehow come by), if my recall is accurate. (Most of his manuscripts have, often in carbons, come my way through the years and yet.)

The random quality is often due to the brevity of the poet’s attentions, acute and wandering. Finding every distraction a focal point and the alert mind mingling ideas, facts, as wires, hinges, bolts, and sometimes just flashes. Glimpses and glances, queer connections of the most familiar.” (146)

 

 

SOURCE: Larry Eigner, areas lights heights: writings 1954-1989 (Roof Books, 1989); Cid Corman, At Their Word: Essays on the Arts of Language Volume II (Black Sparrow Press, 1978).

 

 

 

Then coming through to the concrete – the typewriter as mode of composition, the cosmic typewriter of Dom Sylvester Houédard

 

 

 

…. the visual wonders of Steve McCaffery’s multi-panel Carnival….

 

 

 

 

… through Nancy Spero’s Artaud Codex, its use of the bulletin typewriter, presenting Artaud’s words whilst mediating and attempting to inhabit his act of writing….  ideas of channeling I talk about with RL on skype as possible score for our DocU…. then ‘typings’ of Christopher Knowles:

 

 

Christopher Knowles untitled (Top 14 of 1978) c. mid 1970s typing on paper 11 x 8 1/2

 

 

DB: If you are about on the sixth let’s meet in TYPE this boutique in Bethnal Green, where the shop sign is two suspended typewriter’s and the whole brand aesthetic is unfolded from the typewriter…

Have you seen scree? A magazine from Edinburgh, whose form copies the typewritten format of Poor. Old. Tired. Horse. and other sixties mags, although I guess they might have made this on indesign… what does it mean to so fully recreate an aesthetic as a means of presenting new, experimental work? Perhaps it provides a container that offers a certain set of values and assumptions about poetry, its importance and legacy…

 

 

 

Christopher Knowles
: Ohne Titel (42 Relationships) 
c. 1983 

 

 

 

On skype, I ask RL about her own relationship to the typewriter. As she speaks, I attempt to transcribe what she says:

 

 

the manualness of it
as a how to its sob  basic is like a-z of writing tutorial level
theres nothing more to it than pressing
]tghe gesture of punching the ket being osmehow gutteral on a writing level
you don’t need any more knowledge forethought afterhought
base level action
the groundedness of it
]thrinking back to cop15 the limitations of it being on ditital
wirtten with a wooden laptop
i really feel like that sppedd miught euseful in this day and age
its a constraint strips away networking the battery life
a typewriter uis somehow much more infinite durable than a computer
a toral object status much more than a website or a computers hard drive
theres an honest to it
a smallness of it a limiting is a productive excericise
a false natural
no more natural on a typewriter than a computer
used to work at that speed with eidting spell chcekc
strip awya focus on marks physical gestures sound

ttyoewrites says hall o i am writng it is happening now
the sound in the wee hours of the morning ressonate arounde the space
like an audio recording of us typing miught be interesting moment.

some kind of stocatto and brail]

 

 

 

Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead, Iatmul, 1961

 

 

RL: Maybe there is no getting away from hunching over a desk ..!

 

 

JAMES CLIFFORD: A short essay could be written about typewriters in the field. When Jean Briggs (1970) is ostracized by her Utku Eskimo hosts, she finds solace in her typewriter. Geertz represents the ethical ambiguities of fieldwork through a struggle over a typewriter with a Javanese informant (1968). Colin Turnbull reveals somewhere in The Forest People (1961) that he has the machine with him (forcing us to reimagine his Mbuti villages, adding to the calm suffusion of forest sounds the tap-tap of fieldnotes in the making)… Mead and Bateson in the Iatmul “mosquito room,” facing each other from behind separate typewriters. (63)

 

 

Clifford’s examples highlight the situations/ scenes within which the typewriter is present: as physical object, soundscape, symbol, prop, currency.

He goes on to explore the kinds of writing activities and actual text such a machine produces and symbolically represents:

 

 

This moment of initial ordering, the making of a neat record (whether in type or script), must be a crucial one in the fieldwork process. “Good data” must be materially produced: they become a distanced, quasi-methodical corpus, something to be accumulated, jealously preserved, duplicated, sent to an academic advisor, cross-referenced, selectively forgotten or manipulated later on. A precious, precarious feeling of control over the social activities of inscription and transcription can result from creating an orderly text. The writing is far from simply a matter of mechanical recording: the “facts” are selected, focused, initially interpreted, cleaned up.

Most writing is sedentary activity. Unlike storytelling, it cannot be done while walking along a path. The turn to the typewriter involves a physical change of state, a break from the multisensory, multifocal perceptions and encounters of participant-observation. Writing of this sort is not “situated” like discourse or an oral story, which includes- or marks in the performance – the time/ space of the present moment and audience. Rather, the present moment is held at bay so as to create a recontextualized, portable account. In crucial respects this sort of writing is more than inscription, more than the recording of a perception or datum of “evidence.” A systematic reordering goes on. Fieldnotes are written in a form that will make sense elsewhere, later on. Some may even, like the notes included in The Religion of Java, pass directly into a published book. Turning to typewriter or notebook, one writes for occasions distant from the field, for oneself years later, for an imagined professional readership, for a teacher, for some complex figure identified with the ultimate destination of the research. Facing the typewriter each night means engaging these “others” or alter egos. No wonder the typewriter or the pen or the notebook can sometimes take on a fetishistic aura.”  (63-4)

 

 

SOURCE: James Clifford, “Notes on (Field)notes” in Roger Sanjek ed. Fieldnotes: The Makings of Anthropology (Cornell University Press, 1990).

 

 

….

 

 

The Bateson and Mead photograph feeds into aspects of our own performance. Two typewriters, two bins, two writers, an act offering a strange mirroring (writers of each other/ writers and event). RL suggests we consider Rodney Graham’s Rhinemetall/ Victoria 8 (2003).

 

 

Rodney Graham’s Rhinemetall/ Victoria 8 (2003)

 

 

As Julian Heynen observes in his essay on Graham entitled “A Kind of Author”:

 

 

Two objects – that is, two machines – confront each other in all their technical detail, and the action appears to play itself out without the intrusion of any human or psychological element. A freestanding 35mm projector projects a film whose sole protagonist is a mechanical typewriter. The various parts of this archaic but elegant machine are presented in a series of slowly changing shots. Its design, like the film’s highly disciplined camera work, is reminiscent of the descriptive matter-of-factness of the nineteen twenties aesthetic of Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity). The metal plate displaying its brand name, Rheinmetall, also alludes to this – and we might mention here in passing that this firm was and is well-known for producing armaments, while the name conjures associations with the much fought-over sunken treasure of Wagner’s opera Das Rheingold (The Rhinegold). In the course of the ten minute film, a fine, snow-like substance falls softly and slowly onto the machine, so that by the end it is almost completely covered. The technical apparatus mutates into a kind of winter landscape. All that can be heard is the mechanical noise of the projector. The typewriter’s streamlined efficiency and its poetic transformation are subverted, if not altogether upstaged, by the sound of the very device that is responsible for bringing them to light, making them visible, and awakening them to life: the projector… Two generators – one of images, the other of text – stand face to face, each the distorted image of the other. (16)

The confrontation of the projector with the typewriter casts onto the wall the emblematic image of the twentieth-century writer, a successor to the quill pen of earlier times, and a mechanical instrument that stands both for literature’s turn to the realities of modern life and for the integration of writing into industrial production. With an equally documentary enthusiasm, the camera records in all its clarity and precision the individual parts of this typewriter, which seem to guarantee the quality of the texts that will be produced by them. Then something else starts falling onto this creative apparatus, at first almost mesmerizingly, but soon completely covering it, indeed burying it so that it becomes unusable. While at the beginning we had the infinite possibilities of text, discourse and criticism, we are left at the end with a beautiful and somewhat mysterious image. A vision of utter stasis is now contrasted with the image machine that continues to operate unceasingly – until the film loop plays the narrative of the two machines’ changing fortunes from the beginning again. (18-19)

 
SOURCE: Julian Heynen, “A Kind of Author”  in Rodney Graham: Through the Forest (Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2010).

 

 

 

 

RL tweets: Remmington Envoy 111 is slightly more lady-sized. I might use this one and give the Silver Reed 500 to @verysmallkitch @inXclusion

 

 

 

 

DB: Tamarin Norwood did a performance at the David Roberts Foundation ( Etienne Chambaud VII ‘The Copyist embodied by Tamarin Norwood‘, 2010) where she notated what happened in the gallery. Live writing became surveillance, where someone’s action would be followed a moment later by the sound of her typewriter notating the activity.

I remember Tamarin saying she suspected the gallery receptionist began trying to do things that were not visible – the lack of a following typing sound indicated that the action had been undetected.

Also, M told me she used to put toilet paper in the typewriter and pound away when in a rage. The next day ubuweb was tweeting about this object on ebay which was Moby Dick typed out on toilet paper.

 

 

 

 

DB: This is the first page of J.G.Ballard’s typed manuscript for CRASH…

 

 

 

 

RL: pic comes out quite low res, but the handwritten annotations are enough for me to know for sure that no typewriter works at the same pace as a brain, or a thought, or a mind, or a hand.

Maybe using one forces your hand on this level – forces a slowing down, to ponder more, type less?

There is just something so MANUAL about the endeavour that brings it all down to basic elements, or the ground (or slowness, equally speed, is a myth). Typewriters and brains have actually been at the same speed all along.

 

 

CARL ANDRE: The grid system for the poems comes from the fact that I was using a mechanical typewriter to write the poems, and as you know a mechanical typewriter has even letter spacing, as opposed to print which has justified lines with unequal letter spacing. A mechanical typewriter is essentially a grid and you cannot evade that. And so it really came from the typewriter that I used the grid rather than from the grid to the typewriter. (212)

I have used the typewriter as a machine or lathe or saw, to apply letters on the page. I really do feel very tactile using a typewriter. I never learnt to use a typewriter automatically. I still only type with one finger but that made each operation of typing a very machine-like act. It was like actually embossing or applying physical impressions on to a page, almost as if I had a chisel and was making a cut or a dye and making a mark on metal. (212)

 

 

SOURCE: Carl Andre, Cuts: Texts 1959-2004 (MIT Press, Cambridge, 2005).

 

 

Carl Andre, Yuca 68. 1972. Xeroxed typewritten text.

 

 

 

DB: Pavel Büchler speaking at Camden Arts centre tonight (08/02/12) about/around the Hanne Darboven show: typewriters in Eastern Europe in the 1970s were a very common thing, but they made you nervous. There were conspiracy theories/ urban legends (maybe true) that the secret service had vast piles of typewriters.

A relative of Büchler’s was imprisoned “for many years” after taking carbon copy paper from work, he said, because no one could think of a non-accusatory reason why someone would do this.

Büchler talked about how he had first encountered Darboven’s work in Prague in the 1970’s where it was valued for its non-aesthetic qualities amongst a group of artists for whom a sheet of paper was a more available form than gallery walls. It was odd, he said, to find himself so taken in 2012 with the aesthetics of these works, both of individual pages/ acts of writing  and the overall gallery installation.

 

 

Hanne Darboven, "Sunrise/ Sunset" 1984

 

 

I wonder if, as a way of negotiating the retro- and aesthetic, there is a way of using the typewriter that equates to Darboven’s own descriptions of writing:
 

still each time I have to write, it becomes so calm and so normal. There is no story there, nothing to figure out, not a secret, but still exciting. I feel myself not thinking what other people think, but what I think. I write for myself, there is no other way. This is for me. Going on is the enormous thing I do.  (191)

 

and when (1968) Darboven starts working directly from the calender she observes:
 

not knowing any more of days, time; just take every day’s mathematical index, a great invention, fiction. No inquiry, no exploration, just to search into something between everything for a time while time is going on… Nothing to write, nothing to read, nothing to say; something to do, contemplation, action. (193)

 

 

SOURCE: Lucy Lippard, From the Center: Feminist Essays on Women’s Art ( E.P.Dutton & Co., 1976).

 

 


 

 

 

 

MARIANNE HOLM HANSEN: Now we write in different ways so using the typewriter it becomes something else. We pick it up because a particular reason. My reason is it’s a very physical way of working, of constructing writing or words. I only make words or very short sentences.

It made a lot of sense in response to the lists [in For the Record] to type each word. I’m interested in how things change over time. Putting them in alphabetical order you lost that. Each came from a particular situation, so I thought of returning the words to space, individually spacing them out again, asking the question: could you reimagine the situation from which these words have arisen? I don’t think that worked. It becomes contrived.

Something else came out of one word in a page. It becomes something else. It’s the undo function. There’s no undo. If you do it on the typewriter the trace will always be there of what you did before. If you change your mind you have to start again. On a computer you don’t.  On  a computer thought more about layout and font beforehand.  On a typewriter you have to type it out.

I  played around with spacing, put in hyphens: hopeless i made hope-less.  It gives you time, being limited in what you can write – the font is set. So I play with the spacing of the words, where it sits on the page. It makes you think about the word itself and the meaning and potential meanings of the word….

 

 

 

 

Read the full VerySmallKitchen post  TYPE TYING TYPINGS TYPIST TYBE: MARIANNE HOLM HANSEN TALKS ARTIST AND TYPEWRITER.

 

 

 

 

DB: Which brings me, in conclusion, to something else from Pavel Büchler talk, about time and labor. Büchler connected Darboven’s endeavors to a sense of work time and leisure time, a sense of signing on and off at the beginning and end of a work shift.

 

 

Sue Tompkins, "Fruit Works"

 

 

He contrasted this to Roman Opalka, who he said, in his cynical opinion, had wasted in his life in an obsessive painting of numbers towards infinity. Büchler’s art-labor spectrum was further extended to include On Kawara, understood here as the full time gambler undertaking art projects that require little or no labor (paint the date/ send telegram saying I AM STILL ALIVE).

This reminds me of a recent article in The New Yorker on the popularity in China of work place novels, with titles like Du Lala’s Promotion Diary and Su Changchang’s Struggle to Get a Raise Diary. As we prepare for these 24 hours typing, RL, I’ve been thinking about what makes a project healthily or destuctively obsessive, how to make the distinction…

 

 

RL: A writer being in the event/A writer occupation/A writer as channel/conduit/contingency/A writing machine as channel/conduit/contingency/PERFORMANCE(s) and writing as exclusionary or as exclusive. Reaching or coming from the typewriter.

 

 

*

 

 

DocU- by David Berridge and Rachel Lois Clapham takes place at inXClusion, East Street Arts, Patrick Studios, St. Mary’s Lane, Leeds, LS9 7EH, 25-26 February 2012, 6pm-6pm.

 

 

 

TYPE TYING TYPINGS TYPIST TYBE: MARIANNE HOLM HANSEN TALKS ARTIST AND TYPEWRITER

In Uncategorized on February 23, 2012 at 10:21 pm

 

 

MARIANNE HOLM HANSEN: Kinko’s in New York used to have typewriters in ’94. I remember writing a CV on my neighbour’s typewriter. Even then I was aware of how physical it was. You see what you do.

My little one is small enough to travel with, to take my typewriter like a laptop. Sound becomes an issue. To type on different sites. It’d be quite nice – people talk loudly on mobiles and I make a different sound.  Type twitter. This person tweetering throughout a conference. Be cool to take a typewriter instead and circulate what you wrote by hand. It’d be like early photographers lugging all the equipment around and how different that made the process…

Type is a nice word.  Typing. A type as in the font a type a characteristic. It’s not writing it’s typing. I think if someone said they were typing I would think of a typewriter.

 

 

 
 

Now we write in different ways so using the typewriter it becomes something else. We pick it up because of a particular reason. My reason is it’s a very physical way of working, of constructing writing or words. I only make words or very short sentences.

It made a lot of sense in response to the lists [ of Marianne's For the Record project, the source of the words shown here ] to type each word. I’m interested in how things change over time. Putting them in alphabetical order you lost that.

Each came from a particular situation, so I thought of returning the words to space, individually spacing them out again, asking the question: could you re-imagine the situation from which these words have arisen? I don’t think that worked. It becomes contrived.

 
 

 
 

Something else came out of one word on a page. It becomes something else. It’s the undo function. There’s no undo. If you do it on the typewriter the trace will always be there of what you did before. If you change your mind you have to start again. On a computer you don’t. On  a computer you think more about layout and font beforehand.  On a typewriter you have to type it out.

 
 

 
 

I played around with spacing, put in hyphens: hopeless i made hope-less.  It gives you time, being limited in what you can write – the font is set. So I play with the spacing of the words, where it sits on the page. It makes you think about the word itself and the meaning and potential meanings of the word.

 
 

 
 

There’s a weird economy in it.  There’s something about…. I feel like I can allow myself to put one word on the page. On a computer that is wasteful. Why is that?  I wonder if working on the typewriter can be considered as closer to drawing than it is to writing.

In drawing if you work things out a mark here a mark there deal with  a particular form it kind of materialises very directly as you go ahead. If you erase it leaves a trace. Whatever you do is left on the page even if you try to erase it. Typewriting leaves the mistake.

 
 

 

 

The mistake is in there in some way which opens up a whole new possibility for thinking about language.  If I use it for a written document or use the typewriter font on my computer when making a document, it’s an entirely different thing…. a different conscious process…

It’s embodied…. a material thing to type that the computer doesn’t do in the same way. A physical act. Have you seen Jack Nicholson in The Shining? He types: all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This conversation between VerySmallKitchen and Marianne Holm Hansen took place in Bethnal Green,  London on Feb 22nd 2012.  More about Marianne’s work is here.

 

 

 

 

A PIGEON, A KITCHEN AND AN ANNEXE: ALTERNATIVE SITES OF PUBLISHING at FIVE YEARS

In Uncategorized on February 17, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Paolo Javier and Alex Tarampi, from OBB (forthcoming,VerySmallKitchen, 2012)

 

 

VerySmallKitchen, Annexe and Pigeon have been invited by Ladies of the Press to collaborate on an exhibition entitled A Pigeon, A Kitchen, and an Annexe: Sites of Alternative Publishing at the Five Years Gallery, London, from 17 February to 3rd March 2012.

This blog post is a gathering of materials around VerySmallKitchen’s contribution to the show, which involves work by Paul Antony Carr, Sarah Jacobs, Paolo Javier, Lisa Jeschke and Lucy Beynon, and seekers of lice.

 

 

1. TOMORROW, HERE, A GATHERING

 

 

 

 

In X Marks the Bokship, Lucy Beynon and Lisa Jeschke unfurl a 2m x 1m drawing that is one part of Five Live Performances (Ink on Paper), a project which will take different forms in the exhibition and on this blog.

The different parts of this project range in scale from this large drawing to a box of sixty A5 pages and a text in 3pt font. What happens to scale across these different formats? When physical size and quantity is removed, what becomes invisible and what is emphasised?

Five Live Performances began as a response to a set of workshop instructions from Chris Goode. The work produced becomes a score for its own movement across formats; a musical score for actual and conceptual performance;  it scores itself into histories of black squares and blank/black pages.

It is looking at the different parts of Lisa and Lucy’s project that suggests PAGE as an organising principal for VerySmallKitchen’s contribution to this exhibition.

A page that mediates entry into space and conversation. Changes of meaning and emphasis from web page through page into sculpture.  A page-facilitated space.

 

 

2.  A LETTER TO ALEX, PAOLO, PAUL AND SARAH

 

Dear Alex, Paolo, Paul and Sarah,

I have  been thinking about how to present your projects for the exhibition. After various options, I have decided to present three archival boxes (photo attached) – one for each of you.

I would like to use the exhibition to both give a presence and a distribution to these works and also show something of the process and ambition of VerySmallKitchen. The exhibition provides a now that combines both past, new and potential projects.  So for Sarah the box is an archive for a published book; for Paul an archive of virtual residency on the VerySmallKitchen site in 2011; for Alex and Paolo the box is an “archive” for a book to come later…

Some motivations: The (archive) box seems a useful container for thinking through what kind of space is being formed by this project. It can be an archive or not, an art work or not (Cornell’s boxes/ Duchamp’s boîte en valise/ Warhol’s Time Capsules, Hiller’s Freud Archive)….

 

 

Susan Hiller, From the Freud Museum, 1991-6, installation view, Tate Britain, London © Susan Hiller. Photo: Tate Photography/Sam Drake

 

 

There are other historical examples I turn to as I think through this mediation of space and exhibition by the  “page”: Mel Bochner’s  Working Drawings  and Other Visible Things on Paper Not Necessarily Meant to Be Viewed as Art; and the index card catalogues of Lucy Lippard’s  557,087 and 995,000 exhibitions

 

 

Top: Lucy Lippard, 557,087,” curated by Lucy Lippard for the Contemporary Art Council of the Seattle Art Museum, 1969. 10 x 15 cm, 100 - 138 artist's cards in brown envelope. Below: Vito Acconci’s contribution.

 

 

plus the index card writings of Lev Rubinstein; and the A4 Gallery, founded by Andrzej Pierzgalski in Lodz, Poland, in 1972 (whose shows comprised a single sheet of A4 paper placed within the 80×140 Gallery).

 

 

Andrzej Pierzgalski - Gabinet Aktualizacji Wartości (karta z Galerii A4)

 

All navigations between writing and art practice that are valuable sources whilst also highlighting the different emphases of your own work and this moment….

 

 

Alex and Paolo – I envisage the principal component of your box will be a print out of the OBB book. People will be able to look through the boxes – I am imagining an unbound stack of pages -  and the exhibition will be used to “publish” the book so that it is available and distributed, but only within the Five Years gallery.  Perhaps, Paolo, you imagine other publications in the box? Other books by yourself (those you have sent me?)? Other materials? Let me know if so.

NOTE: This publishing of a book during/as an exhibition develops a trajectory from Paolo’s VerySmallKitchen residency at the AC Institute, New York  for the Department of Micropoetics project in 2010, which used the gallery as a work space for finishing a collaborative project.

 

 

 

Sarah – I have tried displaying the printed pages of Uh Duh on the wall. I thought such a display might be a useful way to  insist upon Uh Duh as a text to be read, but I don’t now think this is  how I want to use the opportunity of this exhibition.  Instead, I suggest we have a pile in the box (in chronological order) of all your printed books, topped by Uh Duh, along with a bibliography.

 

 

Sarah Jacobs, Uh Duh (LemonMelon/ VerySmallKitchen, 2011)

 

 

This idea both fits (conceptually) and does not fit (physically) the box, as (I remember from our conversation) it both expresses your affinity with and distance from the idea of being a book artist. It is sculptural at the same time as I hope it would be an invitation to visitors to look through the pile and read the books. The bibliography would make present an  aspect of your work which I only know partially… let us know any thoughts…

 

Paul – I think one starting point for this project was the small card you sent me of one of the image-text pieces from your residency on the VerySmallKitchen blog. I was interested in the equal emphasis on both sides of this card (the image on one side/ text the other), and how – unlike the blog post’s downward scroll – to read the card required turning over, one side concealing the other in order to be comprehended.

This simple act of changing sides is contrary to the usual display of books in exhibitions – where the emphasis (when the publications are deemed too precious to be handled) is the spread, or where a closed book prioritises its role as object. That’s why I mentioned suspending this small card in some way. Maybe it also wants two readers who could each relay to the other what they were missing…

Actually, I think this card might be enough. But I offer the box space to you in this letter, whilst also wondering (and this applies to all of you) how two aspects of these boxes relate: how they are both an invitation to you and my own way of framing the work you have already contributed,  taking into account budget, time, and the discussions I have had with Annexe, Pigeon and Ladies of the Press.

 

 

 

 

A key part of these discussions has been LOTP’s definition of themselves as “editors” rather than “curators” for this project. I am interested how each of us might define, imagine, choose between, combine, adapt, or outright reject these terms.

I think my own response here has been to foreground neither, seeing instead what identities and lexicon’s might in time emerge from thinking about the exhibition as a distinct form of publication and distribution for practices that also exist in many other locations.

The boxes will be displayed with this letter.

 

all best

David

 

 

 

3. A PIGEON AND AN ANNEXE

 

 

VerySmallKitchen’s contribution to the show takes shape alongside those by Annexe and Pigeon. We have met several times to talk about the show, and are working simultaneously so I have an incomplete knowledge of what these projects will be. In one meeting we  agree an aesthetic of the overall space connected to ideas of press room.

Nick Murray of Annexe posts a preview of VOLUMES OF TEXT:

 

 

 

 

Pigeon write in an email:

 

 

…. We are completely following the idea of creating a live press room “Pigeon Press Room” within the Five Years space, in which the main activity will take place during the Private View on the 17th (and the residue of this will be left over to remain throughout the duration of the exhibition’s run). This press room will be a hectic process of creating outputs, edited and effectively ‘manned’ by the three of us as editors.

The set up will manifest itself as a ‘line of process’ running from Online/Digital to Offline/Analogue through three stages (tables) of process and intervention…

 

4. I USED TO CALL MYSELF AN ARTIST

 

 

seekers of lice sends me a photograph. We have been talking about both performing and installing a version of the talk piece A Minor Poet of the Twenty First Century which involves the shuffling, reading aloud and discarding (throwing down) of texts written on index cards.

Maybe the cards get left where they fall in performance? I was particularly fascinated by one card which notates an origin for the project:

 

 

I used to call myself an artist,
then someone said to me
“You’re not an artist. At best you’re a
minor poet and that’s much worse.”

I decided to become a Minor Poet of
the Twenty First Century.

 

 

In my mind I connect this to my recent reading of Wayne Kostenbaum’s Humiliation, where he observes that humiliation depends on a triad of humiliated, aggressor, and witness. Maybe, I think, this quote/ insult always provokes the “churning stomach. Dry heaves” that Kostenbaum sees as “humiliation’s soundtrack.” seekers of lice says that it does not.

 

 

I ask about the installation in the image. It no longer exists. but it offers a model for thinking through the nexus that has arisen:

 

poet- visual artist – index card – sculpture

 

In an email from seekers of lice : “The tower is progressing – 10 out of 16 units completed so far. I’ve just got back from scavenging more cardboard from Homebase.”

I reply I am reading FLUITEN IN HET DONKER which offers a case study of the exhibition unfolding out of etymology and an associative reading technique.

seekers of lice writes:

VAULT

It was called VAULT : vault, Voltaire, voltige, volte face, volatile
It came out of these connections: (this was written for the original curator)

Vault  sb 1
3b. A burial chamber ( orig. with arched roof) usu. altogether or partly underground 1548

Vault  v 2
1.    to spring or leap; spec. to leap with the assistance of the hand resting on the thing to be surmounted
OED 1978

Voltaire    chosen name of François Marie Arouet (1694 – 1778)
voltige Fr.   acrobatics on a trapeze or horse
volte-face Fr.  a spinning about to face one’s enemies
volatile originally, any winged creature

Cabaret Voltaire
nightclub in Zürich, Switzerland founded by Hugo Ball with Emmy Hennings on February 5, 1916 as a cabaret for artistic and political purposes.
At the first meeting Ball read aloud from Voltaire as well as from his own writing.

Hugo Ball (1886  – 1927) German author, poet and leading Dada artists
Die Flucht aus der Zeit  (Flight Out of Time: A Dada Diary)  1927

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875 – 1926).
The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (1910)
Rilke’s only novel written while Rilke lived in Paris. The novel is semi-autobiographical, neurasthenic and claustrophobic, obsessed with the quest for individuality and artistic expression in the face of death.

I was interested in the juxtaposition of the romantic poet, and dada and the beginnings of conceptualism, of that particular historical moment, represented by the different meanings of the word vault…

 

5. WHO ARE YOUSSSSSS

 

Pigeons, seekers of lice, very small kitchens, annexes, ladies of the press… A litany of pseudonyms, heteronyms, strung between a novelists fever and outsider corporation. Playful, animal, neutrally and abundantly gendered, architecturally expectant, saying what is not as much as what is.

In an essay written for the Press Release this “character-fulness” of a VerySmallKitchen is  unfolded by LOTP:

 

 

Necessity for selection, cannot have 100s of jars of jam if you have one shelf and one table, one chair one spoon, plate, cup and so on.  This is what you might end up with if you use Haiku as inspiration for interior design. Economy of means. And intimacy. How many of us can actually fit into a very small kitchen at any one time? It says something about the type of relations that contingently have to happen in a very small kitchen. And activities. Like cooking, eating, and talking.

 

6. OBB

 

Paolo Javier and Alex Tarampi, from OBB (forthcoming VerySmallKitchen, 2012)

 

 

7. PRINT ON NO DEMAND

 

08/02/12 I visit Sarah Jacobs in Islington to collect her books and the bibliography. The bibliography is intended to make evident a body of work. It does this, but it also makes evident a set of questions mysteries. Part of the practice of bibliography, of course, but emphasised here by an artist for whom content is often related to a questioning and exploiting of a books potential and actual distribution.

 

Arnaud Desjardin, The Book on Books on Artists' Books, Bloomberg Space, London, 2011

 

 

Questions raised by the bibliography itself are expounded when I attempt to correlate the information on its two pages to the table of books Sarah has laid out. The “same” books recur in different formats; some books are missing (explorations of print on demand processes for which there was, it seems, no demand).

The exhibition is the only place to see these books. The bibliography is here.

In the introduction to his The Book on Books on Artists Books (The Everyday Press, 2011)  Arnaud Desjardin cites Simon Ford’s observations – originally in the context of the situationists – concerning a “bibliographic moment”:

The bibliography appears at the point in a subject’s living death when criticism reaches critical mass. As such it indicates the death of any innocence in the face of the subject. The weight of material already published and documented will have to be carried by any subsequent writer. This will not, of course, restrict the field of interpretation; the bibliography opens the way for a multiplication of viewpoints from which the subject can be examined. (5)

 

9.WHAT COLOUR AM I? YOU ARE ORANGE

 

Thinking towards some sort of collaboratively authored text around the exhibition, Pigeon, Ladies of the Press, Annexe and VerySmallKitchen spend one evening writing a google document in response to pre-chosen questions. Different coloured cursors move across the screen as seven people in different locations across London and Brighton write, delete and edit.

I write: the reason for all these reading room exhibitions, displays of printed matter, is not so much proposing that people read in the gallery – a difficult thing to do because of time and situation – but to construct The Reader (in public) as an exemplary model of the gallery visitor.

 

 

Marcel Duchamp, Boîte-en-valise, 1935/41

 

 

Is this true? For myself, the live Google doc and the hour we have given ourselves for writing this text encourage such propositions to be later tested and unfolded.

Something else we talked about when we met in person was the notion of scene in relation to our different practices, how the exhibition constructs one that does not exist so distinctly at any other time and place.

 

*

 

 

A PIGEON, A  KITCHEN AND AN ANNEXE is at the Five Years Gallery, London, from 18th March. Please join us for the Private View on the 17th from 6-9pm. More about Annexe here, Ladies of the Press here, and Pigeon here.

 

 

 

VSK PROJECT LUCY BEYNON AND LISA JESCHKE: FIVE LIVE PERFORMANCES

In Uncategorized on February 11, 2012 at 10:56 pm

 

 

 

 


NOTES

 

The complete set of 60 pages comprising 1 – do not put yourself in any danger during this activity may be seen as a PDF here.

The 60 movements of 2- Public Performance of a Sound Piece are a PDF here.

The full text of 5- untitled [detail] is a PDF here .

This is an online version of a project to be installed at Five Years Gallery as part of  A Pigeon, A Kitchen and An Annexe: Alternative Sites of Publishing (18 Feb- Mar 4 2012) where the dimensions of each piece are as follows:

 

1 – do not put yourself in any danger during this activity (ink on paper – 148 x 210mm – 10/2011)

2 – Public Performance of a Sound Piece (ink and pencil on paper – 148 x 210mm – 10/2011)

3 – Self Portrait (ink on paper – 110 x 210cm – 10/2011)

4 – Tomorrow, here, a gathering. (digital print – 148 x 210mm – 10/2011)

5 – untitled [detail] (digital print -  109 x 84cm – 01/2012).

 

More about Lucy Beynon and Lisa Jeschke’s work is here.

 

 

 

 

THE PUBLIC MAKING OF A MINISCULE EVENT: A CONVERSATION ON PUBLISHING

In Uncategorized on February 2, 2012 at 6:42 pm

From top: Melissa Dubbin & Aaron S.Davidson, Fallen Books (2008), Sigurdur Gudmundsson, Situations, Event (1975)

 

 

The following exchange took place by email between David Berridge (VerySmallKitchen) and Marit Muenzberg (LemonMelon) in January 2012, alongside the production of Uh Duh by Sarah Jacobs, the first title in our collaborative publication series.

 

 

 

DAVID: To begin it seems that there are lots of connections between VerySmallKitchen and LemonMelon, and also differences. The similarities are an interest in the role of language in a contemporary art context as revealed through the methods foregrounded in art practice… Perhaps you would explain this differently?

 

Sarah Jacobs Uh Duh (LemonMelon/ VerySmallKitchen 2012)

 

 

MARIT: I fully agree! Perhaps another connection is that we both understand the book as a social/ performative space i.e. that books are grounded on a notion of performativity? I have to think here of Foucault writing ‘A book is produced, a minuscule event, a small malleable object.’

DAVID: Within this there are different priorities, different ways of working, maybe different languages for talking about that work, different training and histories, contexts, collaborations and reference points. In editing a book series together, are we exploring the place of overlap or are we looking to make some new territory?

MARIT: I think I would hope that the collaboration pushes us individually into new territory – out of the comfort-zone of what we each know and circulate in/around – therefore creating new methodologies of publishing?

 

 

Sigurdur Gudmundsson, Situations, Event, 1975

 

 

DAVID: What different methodologies are you thinking about? What would you like to change?

MARIT: I was just trying to think of publishing as research. What could that be/imply and how would that manifest itself? When could publishing be research? Does it imply some ‘unlearning’ of what we already know or of how we understand the terms ‘publishing’ or ‘books’?

Further – as you mentioned above – we could ask ‘why collaborate’ or ‘what does it mean to collaborate’? I.e. is our collaboration merely a sharing of knowledge? Is it – to paraphrase the Chamber of Public Secrets – us getting bored working alone? Is it sharing a discursive sphere? Or does our collaboration aim to – quoting Iris Dressler – presume rhizomatic structures where knowledge grows exuberantly and proliferates in a rather unforeseeable fashion?

And what is the role of this conversation as part of this collaboration, where does this conversation lead us? Or should I say ‘these conversations’ since it already appears as if this conversation contains multiple conversations?

 

 

MARIT: Mallarmé saw the experience of reading as a form of freedom. He compared it to meandering through a public, a decidedly popular space. I wonder where thinking about the surrealist errance or situationist dérive in relation to this would lead us?

DAVID: Making a book is a fixed, definite process in lots of ways, so the question becomes what part of the process the dérive operates in. I find it easiest to imagine this errance/dérive in terms of where the book comes from, picking up on hints, suggestions in someone’s work that might unfold into an as yet inconceivable book.

Uh Duh is one version of this. There was a conversation, which was never conceived of as a book, at least by me. Then two years later there is a text. For Sarah, in some ways, the whole thing was planned and executed – or at least hoped for -  an idea for a book that was waiting for the right conversation to enact itself.

MARIT: I wonder whether this errance/dérive could also manifest itself in the way a book is distributed? Seth Price comes to mind here since he produced different versions of the ‘same’ work, Dispersion (2002–) being one of them.

 

 

Seth Price, Dispersion. (Top) 38th Street fascicles (2008) (Below) Ukrainian Art School bootleg (2006)

 

 

Or one could think about whether this idea of ‘loosing oneself’ – inherent to the situationist errance – could become part of the process of  production. As you say a book has quite a fixed process but every process also has possible glitches, moments where things go wrong.

I guess I am thinking here particularly of the risograph. Every page printed on a risograph looks different, the printing process itself leaves traces on the pages etc… Maybe, rather than discarding faulty pages they become the basis of something new or lead to something else?

DAVID: I find it hard not to respond to Seth Price’s Dispersion as a reminder of the different attitudes to publication and distribution in contemporary art as opposed to poetry. To generalise, the art world’s ability to devote huge attention to a freely distributed PDF is rather baffling to the poet. From this perspective, I experience Dispersion as an impoverishment of generosity and distribution, an example of proprietorial control rather than freedom.

MARIT: I thought the attention more to be related to the different forms of publishing and therefore the different forms of distribution. Thus the distribution was not a disconnected process after the book was printed but became an integral part to the being and functioning of the book. So the process of production was a direct expression of the book itself. It is here that I see the connection to the situationist errance.

 

 

DAVID: The practical process of making a book daunts me. I don’t feel I have the skills to produce such a thing. It is exciting to me that, despite this, I can use the web to distribute books and projects, get an audience for that work, begin to give form to a field or scene of activity… which is also a list of some of my motivations. You?

MARIT: A book seems to be understood as something that belongs in and with people. To quote Matthew Stadler ‘Publication is the creation of a public … This public is created by deliberate acts …’ so yes the creation of that public is exciting for me as well as ‘giving form to a field or scene of activity’. I guess Deleuze also comes to mind here understanding the book as an active agent.

 

 

 

DAVID: I feel like I want to say ‘readers’ before I say ‘public.’ It’s the reader that often seems to be missing from art writing debates, which is perhaps why there’s often a fascination with books that either through sculptural manipulation or distribution/cost as art works are basically unreadable, from Marcel Broodthaers and John Latham to Oscar Tuazon.

Tuazon’s recent provocation The Social Life of the Book (in part a reflection on his involvement with Section 7 bookstore) claims that a publishing practice like ours is about navigating the exclusivity of such a practice, pushing the book and publishing towards the model of the commercial gallery. He suggests embracing this, producing a novel in an edition of one -

MARIT: I see the book becoming more and more an ‘art work’ because less and less books get physically produced since the production cost of an e-book is so much smaller. Not that I agree with that development, but there are a variety of reasons for such developments.

I guess that begs the question – when does a book still function as a book as we know it? Should the book function the way we know it and if it doesn’t does that then mean it is not a book anymore? How far can the term ‘book’ be stretched?

 

 

Pages from Sue Tompkins, Long hand (LemonMelon, 2011).

 

 

DAVID: Two inspiring examples for me are Ugly Duckling Presse and Dalkey Archive, both publishing concerns whose books I buy and read through an engagement with the press as a whole, as well as following up individual writers and texts.

Both have found an editorial and design identity (Dalkey by the designer/ poet Danielle Dutton) that instead of foregrounding a  set of formal ideas about books, publishing and distribution – although these are of course evident – supports and develops practices, histories and expanded geographies of writing, translation, criticism…

 

 

DAVID: Looking through the stock of bookshops like Section 7, Motto and X Marks the Bökship, I see a field of activity mediated by graphic designers, where the designer becomes editor, author and curator in such cases as Dexter Sinister, Will Holder, Scott Joseph, Phil Baber and others…

At Thoughts on a Book last week the graphic designer as a producer/author of content was both celebrated and dismissed. I’d thought in questioning and thinking through this art writing – graphic design relationship I was revealing my identity as a writer, but actually the graphic designers seemed maybe more agitated!

The connection of art writing and graphic design means certain kinds of writing and publication get made, and perhaps the design process masquerades as the editorial process … the ‘literary’ is something different to this, a different sense of a practice, of publication – but you are also graphic designer! How do you see this?

MARIT: Yes the literary seems to be a different genre, although of course overlaps do exist I think.

Maybe one should quote here from the recently published ELEVEN STATEMENTS AROUND ART WRITING by Fusco, Lomax, Newman, Rifkin: ‘Art Writing addresses material literary forms, which draw attention to the spatiality of writing and the physicality of its support …’

 

 

Paolo Javier and Matt Jones, From the Occult DIary of Hosni Mubarak (VerySmallKitchen, 2011)

 

 

DAVID: ‘..but the interests of art writing diverge from those of literature.’ I wonder about this divergence. I see this working in a publication like Maria Fusco’s The Mechanical Copula, for example, but I also find it most useful to understand such writing as holding to a space of literature within art practice.

MARIT: I am not yet sure how to position the importance of the relationship between art writing and graphic design or rather typography – evidently some forms of writing demands a certain typographic treatment or naturally bring a certain typographic form with them however since most ‘art writers’ are not necessarily typographers this is not always executed the best way …

DAVID: I think notions of ‘good design’ – as represented, say, by the press releases posted on Manystuff - obscure the eclectic ways writers have chosen to present their texts.

MARIT: I think that Manystuff has a very particular aesthetic understanding or style, which immediately excludes a lot of other things…

DAVID: The photocopied pamphlets of Bob Cobbing’s Writer’s Forum, or, a current example, Jared Shickling’s Ecolinguistics, a cut and paste A4 publication, stapled in the corner and distributed in the mail. I’ve been thinking of these as counter-examples. Styles of design, of course, but I’m thinking that although they might be seen as ‘bad design’ by graphic designers this isn’t actually an obstacle to their distribution or readership…

 

….

 

DAVID: The re-printing of texts is another dominant element of art writing publishing. When publications like Cannon and F.R.David re-print Stefan Themerson, I appreciate the enthusiasm that expresses, the circulation it gives to that writing, and its sense of the text practitioner as involved in a conversation about existing texts, not just the creation of new ones.

 

 

Neil Chapman, from Memo Seven (VerySmallKitchen, 2011)

 

 

But there is also a practice and craft of writing which is too all consuming in itself to be too interested in this non-writing writing (particularly when the economics of a writing practice are considered). I want to celebrate and maintain this space. Essay collections like Eileen Myles’ The Importance of Being Iceland and Chris Kraus’ Where Art Belongs give a sense of what I am trying to articulate here.

MARIT: Interestingly this element of re-printing does link to the next project we are currently thinking about (and about which we have not really talked about yet).

I am thinking of this act of re-printing in the context of the deconstructivist understanding of iterability which also links to the LemonMelon methodology of anagrammatical hesitation. I believe that re-appropriated texts as well as the above mentioned examples can be seen as re-prints. Both I feel are artistic/writerly acts, potentially just as interesting as the text/work they are based on – after all they are not claiming to be nothing but a re-printing but do gesture towards the other text.

 

….

 

MARIT: Is that where the social space of the book becomes political? And what happens if it does?

DAVID: I see the book as being the evidence of a certain set of relations, and also – in its contents, design, distribution – a proposition about certain forms of relation. Although, as you suggested recently by highlighting the notion of privishing, acts of giving visibility are always related to a language of invisibility…

 

 

Andrea Ayala Closa, The Keep My Arms Warm When I Read In Bed Thing

 

 

MARIT: How do you understand ‘a language of invisibility’?

DAVID: Notions of naming, of giving voice to, has connections to notions of marginalisation, voices silenced through class, race, and gender. I wonder if that social agenda is at all part of our rationale? How do such concerns become evident in this project?

MARIT: I was more thinking of the relationship(s) between writer/author and reader/public or – to open it up – the relationships and conversations the book could create, or the ones it could exclude, the ones it shuts down or …

But then I guess I also understood the political in relation to our handling of other texts (linking it back to our conversation on re-printing).

 

 

MARIT: For one I believe that there is some kind of system in thinking/thought and secondly I am personally very interested in notions of constraint – although I am not sure this is relevant in this context.

DAVID: Like the dérive or errance, I wonder how the constraint functions differently throughout the publication process. Financial constraints, of course, or constraints of creation, as with Cabinet’s new 24 hour book series.

These could be extended into distribution constraints, as with Oscar Tuazon’s edition of one. There’s a section of Ugly Duckling Presse for conceptual books – Paperless Book Department – although, interestingly, it is far less productive than the Paper Department!

 

 

Jeremy Jansen, from Digitized by Google (2007)

 

 

MARIT: This makes me think of a book Coracle Press had on their stall on the recent RGAP fair. The principle was that it cost 100 of whatever currency the person wanted to pay in, ie. 100 Euro/100 Pound/100 US Dollar/100… the number 100 having some kind of significance for/in the book. Maybe this is not quite a constraint but could be understood as a rule-governed structure integral to the project.

 

 

DAVID: When organising an exhibition, the Ladies of the Press define their role as  editors rather than curators. Being called Ladies of the Press, their process is rooted in such a constellation of metaphors, but this lexicon shift is made because of the different working methods and styles it implies, particularly regarding the relation between organizer and artist, frame and content. Which also seems to connect back to those questions we have explored here of relating to and diverging from the literary…

 

 

 

 

This conversation is published alongside LemonMelon’s participation in Why do You Publish: Art Book Fair,  at 98 Weeks, Beirut, 2-5 Feb 2012, and VerySmallKitchen’s involvement in A Pigeon, A Kitchen and An Annexe: Sites of Alternative Publishing at  Five Years, London, 18 Feb- 04 Mar 2012.

 

 

 

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