This book object is primarily made of canvas, which has been painted with acrylic paint to look like a night sky or a galaxy. Scraps of paper are attached to the canvas with tape. Each scrape serves a purpose – the largest scrap has the title, “Masochist”, painted on it, the scrap below it shows the author’s name, the two folded scraps display the words of the poem, and to read the poem, you have to open the fold. The poem is only a few lines long, but has a clear message and theme. So, is this object a book?
According to Ulises Carrion, in “The New Art of Making Books”, “A book is a sequence of spaces. Each of these spaces is perceived at a different moment…”. It seems that the words on display in this object would fall under Carrion’s notion. But, Carrion also proposes that a “new book” is not just an “accidental container” for words, but that a writer of a new book must “actualize its ideal space-time by means of the creation of a parallel sequence of signs, be it linguistic or otherwise”. Under this assumption, my object seems to be a new book, more focused on the sensory interaction between “text” and reader.
The materials that I used to create this book object are materials more often used in works that lend themselves towards the visual. A canvas board and acrylic paint are very rarely used in the making of a manufactured book, and are especially not a material that big 6 publisher would use to mass produce novels. Scraps of notebook paper and scotch tape are also not typically found among of the materials in a publishing house. The techniques I used to construct these materials together would not, under industry standard, be considered professional and I have virtually no credibility when it comes to painting or writing. However, as Borsuk points out in “The Book as Idea”, “The artist’s book … can be purposefully illegible, its pages can be torn or carefully cut … It can be a sculptural object … It can be bound or unbound …”(115-116).
The materials I used were familiar to me – I paint often as a pass time or hobby, and the paper scraps where from my personal notebook. The words of my poem are, likewise, very meaningful to me. The materials of this book object and what they convey are personal. Does this mean that the desired reader of my book object is only me? I don’t think so. I think that the personal nature of my book object invites the reader to reflect on first: what the materials could mean for them, second: how the language of the poetry relates to the object it is affixed to, and third: what this means as a whole for the reader.
Borsuk, Amaranth. “The Book as Idea .” The Book , The MIT Press , 2018, pp. 116–117.
Carrion, Ulises. The New Art of Making Books. Aegean Editions, 2001.