Here are just a few artists and works I have come across lately that have fed my love of book arts, text art, typography, photography, printed media and baking (there had to be a random topic in there somewhere)…I thought I’d share them with you. The first is the American photographer Alec Soth with ‘Broken Manual’ (2006-2010)…recommended to me by a participant in one of my bookbinding workshops back in January. It is a special edition of only 300, created over four years from 2006 to 2010, investigating ‘the places in which people retreat to escape civilization.’ The book is housed within its own unique book-safe, signed and numbered with an Alec Soth photograph and small booklet.
‘Soth photographs monks, survivalists, hermits and runaways…this isn’t a conventional documentary book on life “off the grid.” Instead, working with the writer Lester B. Morrison, the authors have created an underground instruction manual for those looking to escape their lives.’ I love the “book in a book” facet to this project and the collaborative narratives that are inter-weaved into the pages both textually and visually…it has a real immersive quality to take you into another world of questioning and beauty. It felt like this is how I dream sometimes. Definitely a book I feel I need at the moment with all that’s happened recently. Soth’s Blog ‘Little Brown Mushroom’ is a great find too…some insightful perspectives into the personal backgrounds of photographers, their relationships and inner thoughts.
The next is Chrissy Styles with her ‘Baked Typefaces’ (2011-12). She is a graphic design student in her final year at the University College Falmouth who, in this project, uses innovate design processes to create new manifestations of original typefaces. Clever, very clever.
You can’t help but smile at this work…smile as it brought together my love of baking and typography. She has actually turned this project into a series of postcards (she wanted it to be a book), where recipes and typeface information are printed on the back. So simple yet incredibly effective. I’ll be interested to see how her practice develops post-university. It seems everyone in the creative realm seems to have a blog now…here is Chrissy’s.
Onto the work of artist Robert Montgomery, who’s billboards I stumbled across whilst walking the streets of London in February. He sees himself working in ‘a poetic and melancholic post-situationist’ manner…giving real, hard-hitting yet poignant and philosophically grounded statements, with often fable-like wording, some of which cut to the absolute core of emotionality…with me anyway, especially the second image. They have been coined as “billboard typography” by some and reminded me of the billboard works that I created during my second year of Fine Art studies at Loughborough University. His are obviously far more mature and successful! I might dig photos of them out to show you all..noting that down…and when I say dig, I mean delve into my hard drive, which could take a while as last year I erased it in its entirety for all files to be recovered but no numbered from 1 to over 14,000. Needless to say, images and files from pre-2010 take a long, long , LONG time to find. There’s something in the use of billboards as contemporary art that I really like…the use of the advertising space to subvert our thought and attention, make us think a little differently…that’s if we notice them at all though…usually lost in our periphery vision.
On display at the newly-constructed Ford’s Theatre Center for Education and Leadership in Washington, DC, USA, is a 34-foot pillar of literature, which includes over 15,000 titles about the United State’s 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. I found this on one of my favorite art and design blog’s ‘COLOSSAL’…a nice little piece of physical intervention in a public space using books…more things should exist like this. Super powerful impact.
Finally, the work of Sam Winston and his ‘A Dictionary Story’ book work. For Winston, ‘When it comes to typography language always comes first…to make harmony between content and form’. Initially the project started as a short narrative in which certain words from the dictionary became living characters that met each other…
“Springs next victim was Lawless who was rejoicing in being knocked away from such a boring neighbour as Lawful. Lawless landed straight on top of Lawn which suddenly became very unruly. After some time Lawn was no longer and in its place sat Jungle, happily spreading its creepers across the page.” – Sam Winston
Winston continues, ‘from exploring the meaning in writing it was then applied it to its design. As I came to set the type I realised, by creating two columns, you could have the story running in one whilst the definitions of the words ran in the other. The final element to ‘a dictionary story’ was the typographic illustrations. Here, the definitions were used to illustrate what was happening in the narrative.’ Simple, poetic, with clever use and visual depiction of language…where this language goes head on with design.