Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Authentic Artist Book, Hon's First Step

Ballpointpen drawing of Cockchafer larva
 also known as scarab beetles or spring beetles
I have done the initial research, reading and compiling of mind maps and visual realisation of my next creative output. After weeks of catching up, to do lists that never seemed to end, I am ready to share my latest creative endeavour - a step by step account of my first authentic artist book - here are on this blog, on a weekly basis (as the creative process unfolds). 

The book will hopefully meet the complex artists book criteria, whilst capitalizing on my unique approach to ballpoint pen drawings and will also include ceramic products in a befitting way. I have investigated blogs and read papers on the subject of artists books and will feature aspects and approaches to this growing complex art form, as the need arises and in response to my creative output – the application of the theory in practice.

My creative intention is to draw parallels between one of my most inspiring reads ever, Joris-Karl Huysman’s Against Nature (a Rebours) and contemporary life – seen in the context of a information age and cyberspace. Analogies will be drawn between the main character in Huysman’s book, named Des Esseintes, in particular his response to life at the end of the 19th century. In describing the situation, Patric McGuiness wrote in the introduction of one of the translations in my possession (image on the left), ‘that the Romantic heroes had travelled to exotic places in search of themselves, only to discover that it was themselves they were trying to escape (McGuinness: xviii).’ In the Hero’s case, ‘the quest terminates indoors, the final bastion of the privacy that feeds on itself until there is nothing left’.(McGuinness: xviii)

"Des Esseintes thus becomes the exemplary Decadent figure: the last, sickly scion of a once great family, his mind addled by fantastical luxury and his body wrecked by abuse, he retires from the nineteenth century – the “American Century” as both Des Esseintes and Huysman call it – to build his own fortress, Against Nature is the Tale of his obsession (McGuinness: xviii)".

"We notice how, despite his tirades against the ‘American Century’, modern consumerism and ownership, he takes advantage of all these. He owns, and money is rarely far from the surface of this book ostensibly about the ascetic and cultured life, the search for the uncontaminated pleasure of pure art. Indeed, his passion for reproducing, commissioning copies, having finely bound books and made-to-measure interiors is uncannily like that of the early 20th century (American) millionaire: buying, transporting, transplanting (McGuinness: xxix)

However 'he is also a book fetishist, in whom the bibliophile – the lover of the book as object – overcomes the reader. He does not read, states McGuiness, instead he prefers 'to wax lyrical about the paper quality and bindings (McGuinness: xviii) ….. Against Nature, the novel, 'is a hybrid, composed of different modes of writing: catalogue, inventory, case study, encyclopedia and scholarly treatise, while the chapters are arranged as compartments or glass cases' (McGuinness: xxxiii). All these qualities will be applied to create an artist book that integrates text, renderings as well as origami  - addressing the entire structure thereof – the book as object (container for netsuke based ceramic products).

Ballpointpen drawing referencing the caterpillars abode;
 a rolled leaf in which it takes refuge.

The initial concept (book as object) is premised on the idea of the disintegration of the book, being devoured from within, as consumed by the reader (notion of the bookworm), until only the memory of the experience remains. The digital age has had a serious impact on printed matter - the hardcopy. Against nature is ultimately a “novel” of alienation and insurrection. 

Des Esseintes, the novel’s hero, sleeps during the day, to take advantage of the still of the night – ‘holding that night afforded greater intimacy and isolation and that the mind was truly roused and stimulated only by awareness of the dark…….the world is dark, silent and dead. The information superhighway (social networks etc.) is a means to escape reality - surfing the net in search of self-fulfillment – in itself an alienating experience (withdrawing into ones own fortress).  The time of day is of no consequence when one surfs the superhighway.

Against Nature is a novel of surfeit; surfeit of knowledge, sensation, culture; and it culminates in a surfeit of self. The artist book I will produce will exploit these issues in an innovative and meaningful way. 
The goat-moth habitat

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