Doug Beube’s works exude the influence of his studies with Keith A. Smith and Gary Frost, craftsmen and scholars whose work has been referenced here. Eleven years ago, in an interview with Judith Hoffberg in Umbrella, Vol 25, No 3-4 (2002), Beube speaks of experiencing
the whole book as an entity in itself, which can’t be done by reading line by line. The book’s not made to do that. Readers experience the totality of the book by building up linear movement, word-byword, sentence by sentence, etc. and I’m interested in the book as a simultaneous experience.
The experience of the wholeness of the book plays off the major theme of Smith’s The New Structure of the Visual Book and The New Text in the Book Format: “Composing the book, as well as the pictures it contains, creates pacing in turning pages. Just as poetry and cinema are conceived in time, so is a book.” Both Smith and Beube are interested in the structure of the book, “the mechanical aspects of the book as a technology, and how it functions as a container of information,” as Beube puts it.
But where Beube is “trying to solve the problem of experiencing the content of the book as a visual phenomenon, layering it and transforming it into a visual object,” Smith pushes the traditional form of the book to enhance the book experience that “Events depicted in writing unfold through time in space, alongside the physical act of turning pages.”
Although Gary Frost’s influence on Beube’s deep-seated inspiration from the history of the book can be seen in the first two examples below, Beube’s more acerbic view of our digital world in Facebook, the third example, is where they part company. Frost is still seeking the possibility of an ongoing link between the print and the digital: “The circumstance of mixed delivery options for books reveals a surprisingly complementary and interdependent relation of affordances and a third stance going forward. We advocate for the interdependence of paper and screen books; neither will flourish without the other.” Beube’s twisted phonebook dangled before his face in Facebook “both acknowledges and satirizes the intended community of computer users.”
Beube divides his bookworks into methodological categories — Fold, Gouge and Cut:
Inspired by a phrase from the Hindu scriptures, the Vedas, in 1989 I began folding the pages of books in on themselves. The phrase goes, “Curving back upon myself, I create again and again.”
via Doug Beube – Fold.
Using various power tools I selectively removed parts of the cover, pages, and content, for example, by grinding them away. The underlying pages revealed themselves, as hidden depictions interacting with top layers, interrupting what might have been an undisturbed reading of text and image now viewed as an altered book.
via Doug Beube – Gouge.
Theoretically and physically I ‘excavate’ the book, as a phenomenological endeavor, creating hypertexts, as if the text block itself is an archaeological site. When I appropriate books, their words are sometimes readable, their shapes are sometimes recognizable, but in every case they are transformed into objects that are visual and speak volumes.
via Doug Beube – Cut.