Tuesday, January 17, 2012

When I get that feeling, I need textual healing

pages drying

The type sampler continues apace. Well, in slow paces as I predicted, since my darling Bumblebee returned and other things started intruding.

Like the new course I'm teaching this year that I spent the weekend writing. For a few years now I've been teaching a class called 'Book Design' (a title not of my choice. I'd rather 'the book as art' or something), and in an attempt to keep the letterpress equipment used, I've up to now structured the course in two parts: one semester of learning artist book structures and the other semester working with letterpress. Now the art school has come fully in line with the rest of the university and all our courses have been changed to electives to be mixed & matched to make a degree, so I took the opportunity to ask my boss if I could slip in a new course called Typography: text in art. And o yeah, it was approved. Huzzar!

So now, in what can become a Book Minor to complement a printmaking Major, there is a fully book-centred Book Design course and a separate Typography course. It's not just letterpress; I want to look at artists who incorporate text in various forms into their work, whether painters, sculptors, textile artists, glass workers, woodies or whatever. I've been picking the brains of my friends for suggestions and I'd much appreciate your suggestions too.

One of my long-term favorites is Xu Bing and his Sky Book work. A recent favorite is my good friend Nicci Haynes, who treats text as image, and it's not meant to be legible. There's so many ways of creating text: letterpress, inkjet, laser prints, hand-writing, sewing, scratching, engraving, cutting, piercing, typewriters, stickers... and more. That's what this class will be exploring, as well as things like sourcing text, acknowledging and attributing, and writing your own. Fun!

This is one of my pieces, called 'Blue'. It's text from a vintage copy of Little Women collaged on to an old pianola roll, making the lyrics to New Order's 'Blue Monday'. From the 2010 exhibition '3 Chords & the Truth'.

Unfortunately, because it's the first year that it's offered, and no-one at the school knows what it's all about, Typography might not run this semester due to low enrolments. But it will stay on the books, and might get going next semester if I keep talking about it. Book Design, however, has ballooned, and we're going to run two classes this semester! Wow.

We've also had a house full of visitors this week. Not only have I had studio visitors, including wood engraver Tanya Myshkin (who is setting a book), but we've had family and friends staying. I love having a spare room, it keeps the house full of energy.

It's taken me four days to write this post as things keep leaping out at me. Since starting it I've laid out a Henry Lawson short story in a scholarly edition computer setting (lots of intricate fiddly bits); gone to my ukulele group (we don't wear Hawaiian shirts, but I have special Hawaiian sunset undies to get me in the mood) and learned 'Yellow Brick Road' (lots of intricate fiddly bits) and 'Butterfly Ball' (violently hated by some group members, and thus to be only played sporadically); had dinner with Barbara Blackman (ex-wife of Charles, a Best Beloved family friend) and had a meeting about the new course.

I have been reading, too: Cold Light, by Frank Moorhouse (loved the Canberra connection), Un Lon Don by China Mieville (which is a young adult book using a lot of the themes of Kraken, and very enjoyable); Love by Angela Carter, and right now, One of our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper FFFFFFFFforde. A little bit every day is good for the sleeping.

Today I had to find my recipe for beetroot risotto for BB, so I might as well relink to it here. Next on my list is to go roller-skating in the temporary public rink in the city. Fun! I don't know when, but I'll get there. I have to vacuum the studio today, I had a sparkie in yesterday to put in a new light in the dark corner of the studio and a power point near the press, so there's drilled crumbs of stuff everywhere. And then I'll get printing, a whole nother page. I have to get this sampler finished so that I can get on with 'real' stuff, like the new Book Art Object project.

Here's a picture of the kitties to finish, to remind us of what is real in life.



birdmonkey said...

Hi great news about your courses going forward- book arts minor hmmm

Lets have cup of tea (by Skype even) I have lot of text artists and scholarly writing suggestions. just thinking of a books that where collections of performance scoures- yoke ono wtc

Elephant's Child said...

Barbara Blackman. Wow. Double wow. I have an autobiography (biography?) which gave me huge amounts of pleasure and respect for her.
You have been/are super busy. I love the reminder of what is real. It is real here too.

ronnie said...

fabbo news about the uni courses... I'm imaging a whole rash of little booky folks about to take to the water....

maybe we might have a heads together one day and talk text (ooooo texty talk ... its got a drrty sound eh?) did you know that I actually wrote a 'text-as-art-as-text' cirriculum unit for high school students while I was doing my grad dip ed? yep true story... I wonder where I put it? and I have mucho maties doing all manner of interesting 'things' - textually speaking - that you might also be interested in..... or maybe its just me interested in their things ;~)

Sonya said...

..'textual healing'. Nice.

Cat Drawings said...

All sounds fab. And congrats on the new course. I'd love to do it.

Ampersand Duck said...

Actually, just got word that it probably *won't* run, but I'm to check in the week before school starts to see if it does. I'm in Melbourne that week! Argh.

Yes, will be having conversations with you, birdmonkey and Ronnie. Just let me finish my summer projects & I'll be all over you like a rash.

Thanks, eh, all you crazy lovelies.