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Hinge Image-­and-­Text Forms This page intentionally left blank 115 Julie Chen’s Artists’ Books ​ “The Constant Search for Meaning in the Chattering of Time” Artists’ books are not books about art or on artists, but books as art.—Lucy Lippard (“Conspicuous Consumption” 49) Artists’ books are art objects that reference the structure of the book—the binding, the page, the spine, the text, and the layout. They are visual and sculptural objects in which text and image function coequally. Julie Chen’s artists’ books are books “in which the elements of visual content, materials, text, illustration, format, and structure all work . . . together to create a unified whole” (Chen, “Books in Balance” 1). Unlike the hybrid image-­ text autobiographical narratives of Peter Najarian , Leslie Marmon Silko, and Art Spiegelman, artists’ books may or may not be in the form of conventional Western books. Even so, artists’ books are created fundamentally in relation to the historical structure of the book.This chapter begins our shift from visual-­ verbal relations originating in book form to image-­ text relations that arise in artwork. In this case, artists’ books refer to concepts of the book as both a material form and a time-­ based medium. A Brief Introduction to Artists’ Books For quite some time, artists’ books were unrecognized in the world of art and literature, considered craft in the art world and scarcely considered in the literary world, except in the collaborations of poets and artists that produced lavish books of illustrated poems.1 Even now that many artists and scholars have attempted to define book art and to elevate it from craft to art, a suspect distinction itself, a variety of definitions compete. Many scholars begin a discussion of artists’ books by defining what constitutes a book before making any distinctions about artists’ books. A book is a “collection of blank and/or image-­ bearing sheets usually fastened together along one edge and trimmed at the other edges to form a single series of uniform leaves” (Klima 27). Books are “a collection Hinge Image-and-Text Forms 116 of surfaces to receive writing for the purpose of communicating ideas” (Avrin 1). A book is “an inhabitable universe of image and thought and language, a mute space of unrealizable dreams and manifest desire for form. The book is a passage of time, an expandable space, a fluid sequence of elements whose discrete identity becomes absorbed into the reality of a seamless experience, a static set of units whose unresolvable differences return the viewer to the cells of its interior spaces in a contradictory act of engagement and transcendence” (Drucker, Century of Artists’ Books 363). Others emphasize the basic elements of the book: the binding, which determines the type of book (Western codex, so-­called oriental fold book, fan, venetian blind, and so on); the pages (each page is a unit of space and time, both literal and implied); the text and/or pictures ; the act of turning pages (which suggests linear movement, temporality , tactile experience, and point of view); and the display (which concerns point of view) (K. Smith 73, 96). All emphasize key elements of traditional Western codex books—the page, the binding, the text, the images—in order to begin to articulate how artists’ books differ. The early claim that artists’ books are “books and booklets authored by an artist” (Phillpot, “Books by Artists” 33) has long been discredited. Such a provocatively simple definition is insufficient because “artists’ books are not books about art or on artists, but books as art. They can be all words, all images, or combinations thereof. At best they are a lively hybrid of exhibition, narrative, and object—cinematic potential co-­existing with double-­ spread stasis” (Lippard, “Conspicuous Consumption” 49, emphasis in original). Artists’ books are “books as visually and conceptually whole as paintings or sculptures” (Lippard, “Artist’s Book Goes Public” 46). Artists’ books are a form of “intermedia”—“works which fall conceptually between media that are already known” (Higgins, Horizons 23). Significantly, an artists’ book is “a book done for its own sake and not for the information it contains. That is: it doesn’t contain a lot of works. . . . It is a work” (Higgins 11, emphasis in original). Stefan Klima distinguishes among several kinds of artistic books: an “art book” is a “book of which art or an artist is the subject”; “book art” is “art that employs the book form”; “bookwork” is “artwork dependent upon the structure of the book”; and...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781469640723
Related ISBN
9781469640709
MARC Record
OCLC
1034583558
Pages
280
Launched on MUSE
2018-05-08
Language
English
Open Access
No
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