Here is the artists book/altered book I "whipped up" this January for the Emerging Contemporaries exhibition at Craft ACT this month - an exhibition for which I had hoped to do a whole lot more. Suffice to say 2013 didn't turn out like I imagined it would.
This project, when it wasn't being demanding, difficult and over ambitious for the time frame involved, was fun to do. I had bought the book a while ago from a second hand bookstore up the road. A slim tome with a time weathered hard cover in black, titled "Existentialism" and published in 1947. It was perfect - though perfect for what I was not quite sure. Nonetheless I thought it was a little expensive at $35.00 and so, not knowing at that point how rare/valuable it was, I bartered my way down to $10 cash and a trade of 5 more recent titles from my own bookshelf. Even then I still felt a little cheated but there was the feeling that somehow the book would fit into the work I was doing. I figured out exactly what after christmas when I decided I wanted to do something new for the exhibition, something manageable in four weeks and thus that my zine should be reworked into an artists book. The original had been handwritten and illustrated but then printed to a quality that everyone on my graduate assessment panel agreed let the work down - shiny, white and characterless.
It was only when I set to work with this old neglected purchase and caught some of the text I realised what a good and useful book this was on the subject. Not only that but a subject wholly relevant to my work. I became conflicted. I searched for it on the web and discovered its' author Guido De Ruggiero was a respected author on the subject and some of his related works had been copied for their historical and academic value by people who care that good works are not lost forever. I became even more conflicted. I've always struggled with the idea of desecrating a book, even for art. If I do I choose works that are incredibly outdated and deal with technological topics, but this book seemed special. And yet, I reasoned, maybe so special it deserved to have it's content jump off the page visually. We were meant to find one another in fact and that by doing what I was doing I was honouring the books specialness. Right? Before I began I at least scanned each page so that i could preserve a little of it's print form. Then I got to work on it. I hope I did it justice.