Bookmarking Book Art — Long-Bin Chen

Buddha, Long-Bin Chen

This video accompanies the exhibition entitled Rebound: Dissections and Excavations in Book Art.  Curated by Karen Ann Myers, Assistant Director of the Halsey Institute, Rebound brings together the work of Doug Beube, Long-Bin Chen, Brian Dettmer, Guy Laramée, and Francesca Pastine.   Of the five, Chen and Laramée’s pieces have the greatest superficial resemblance to one another, and while it seems that their difference in import could not be greater, perhaps they come to same point.  The apparently stone heads of the Buddha come from the East “to care for” the millions of individuals in the West whose names and addresses appear in the telephone books from which the heads are sculpted.   Laramée’s mountains are “erosions of disused knowledge,” returning “to that which does not need to say anything, that which simply IS.”

These are not ekphrastic works.  Their “raw material” is not the narrative inspiration of a carved scene.  They are nearer to conceptual art.  They are fascinating.  via Rebound: Dissections and in Book Art — Spoleto Festival USA — College of Charleston – YouTube.

Bookmarking Book Art – Karine (France’s answer to the Mystery Book Artist of Edinburgh)

“Encore une fois bienvenue dans les coulisses de mon prochain défi: faire entrer un peu de poésie à l’intérieur d’une cloche de verre avec pour point de départ un vieux livre dépoussiéré de J. Feildel: Le Jardin – 1942.”

For those who enjoy the work of the Mystery Book Artist of Edinburgh (MBAE), the details of the small house within a bell-jar will equally appeal.  The artist is Karine, who goes by the name AnemyaPhotoCreations at and FaceBook.  The fine, dexterous work in the sculpted roses and cat in the garden, the clothes hanging from the miniature clothesline and the paper spray of water from the paper watering can held by the paper gardener raises the piece above simply being a garden scene suggested by the content of the book being altered.   Karine’s work is every bit as delicate as that of the MBAE.

Do visit AnemyaPhotoCreations to see Karine’s other work “Piano,” “Les petites filles modeles” and “Reading is escaping.” You will half suspect that she has made some round trips to Edinburgh.

Bookmarking Book Art – Barbara Tetenbaum


Here is another instance of “reverse” ekphrasis.   When a writer creates poetry or prose in response to a work of art, that is an ekphrastic work.  Think of John Keats and “Ode to a Grecian Urn,” William Carlos Williams and his poems inspired by Breughel, Randall Jarrell’s “The Bronze David of Donatello” or Mark Doty’s extended essay in response to Jan Davidsz de Heem’s “Still Life with Oysters and Lemon.”

Still Life with Oysters and Lemon,                      Jan Davidsz de Heem, 1606-1683

Tetenbaum, both writer and artist, spends a month in a gallery listening to a recording of Willa Cather’s 1918 novel, My Ántonia, and the result is an “artist’s book” or “bookwork” called Mining My Ántonia; Excerpts, Drawings, and a Map.   

imagesPut aside — difficult as it may be — the pleasure of craft and art so plainly suffusing the print, paper and binding of this work, what is its relation to the material of which it is made?  Is it like a “movie of the book”?  Or some sort of literary/artistic criticism?   Are we enjoying Tetenbaum’s “making the novel her own” (as in the pun on mining), or is the work inspiring us to go back to Cather’s novel with renewed interest?  To what degree can we appreciate Tetenbaum’s book art without having read My Ántonia?  How do we think about the “material” of which Mining My Ántonia is made?

Some work in this category of the artist’s response to book material, in which a well-known scene from the book is created, is merely craftwork.  Other work — which can stand on its own, albeit better appreciated in the context of full knowledge of the inspiring book — is art.  We want to make it our own — to mine it — which curiously might send us back to the quarry from which the artist drew her material.

Willa Cather's Prairie, Nebraska
Willa Cather’s Prairie, Nebraska (Photo credit: Ross Griff)

Bookmark – Education for the Future of Publishing

The Elements, Theodore Gray
The Elements, Theodore Gray

When it comes to acquiring skills and professional training in book publishing, from the early days of the printing press onwards, learning by doing has been book publishing’s order of the day.  Consider the following interview exchange between Mac Slocum (Tools of Change) and Theodore Gray (The Elements):


MS: What skills — or people with those skills — must be incorporated into the editorial process to produce something like the iPad/iPhone editions?

TG: Specifically in the case of “The Elements,” the skills required were writing, commercial-style stills photography, Objective-C programming, and a whole, whole lot of Mathematica programming to create the design and layout tool and image processing software we used to create all the media assets that went into the ebook.

Other ebooks might well require different skills. My next one, for example, is going to include a lot more video, so we’re gearing up to produce high-grade stereo 3D video. That’s one of the challenges in producing interesting ebooks: You need a wider range of skills than to produce a conventional print book.

Starting out in book publishing late in the last century, a novice would have consulted Marshall Lee’s Bookmaking and the Chicago Manual of Style to learn the basics of design, editorial and production.  If it were Trade publishing that beckoned, a familiarity with A. Scott Berg’s biography of Maxwell Perkins (“Editor of Genius”) would have been likely.

Maxwell Perkins, half-length portrait, seated ...
Maxwell Perkins, half-length portrait, seated at desk, facing slightly right / World Telegram & Sun photo by Al Ravenna. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If scholarly book publishing, then Harman’s The Thesis and the Book, Turabian’s A Manual for Writers and maybe Bailey’s The Art & Science of Book Publishing.

But as with the acquisition of print publishing skills through learning by commissioning, designing, editing, printing, marketing and selling, the acquisition of the skills required for ebook publishing could use a hand up from appropriate resources.   People like Joshua Tallent, Joel Friedlander, Liz Castro, Craig Mod, Matthew Diener are those resources — either by example or authoring — and novices today would do well to start bookmarking their output.

For notes on the availability of formal training and career conditions in publishing, see Thad McIlroy’s The Future of Publishing.

Related sources:

“Joshua Tallent of Ebook Architects on the State of Digital Publishing,” Bill Crawford, Publishing Perspectives

“Understanding Fonts & Typography,” Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer

html, xhtml, and css: 6th edition, Elizabeth Castro

“Our Future Book,” Craig Mod

“Resources,” Matthew Diener, David Blatner and Anne-Marie Concepcion, ePUBSecrets

The Chicago Manual of Style Online

English: Image of the cover of the 1906, 1st E...
English: Image of the cover of the 1906, 1st Edition of the Chicago Manual of Style (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bookmarking Book Art — Sam Winston

"Darwin" by Sam Winston
“Darwin” by Sam Winston

Presented here is an ongoing exploration of Charles Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species’ and Ruth Padel’s ‘Darwin, A Life In Poems’.

I initially separated the text of these two books into nouns verbs, adjectives & other. I wanted to present a visual map of how a scientist and a poet use language – a look at how much each author used real world names (Nouns) and more abstract terminology (Verb, Adjective and Other) in their writings.

via Sam Winston : Darwin.

By determining the frequency of each part of speech and generating pointillist-like dots with different pencil lead weights assigned to each part of speech,  Winston also creates what he calls “Frequency Poems.”

"Origin Drawing" by Sam Winston
“Origin Drawing” by Sam Winston

A similar result is achieved by categorizing all the words from “Romeo & Juliet” under the headings solace, passion and rage and then creating a collage for each heading with the actual words.  Here from the artist’s site is the collage “Solace”:

"Solace" by Sam Winston
“Solace” by Sam Winston

Winston’s work wrestles with paradoxical “divides” and “unions” — the divide and union of science and poetry, those of categories and the whole, those of non-linear (patterned) and linear (narrative) meaning, that of the word as perceived object and semantic signal.

In technique and process, Winston’s work also implies a divide and union of the print and digital. It is no surprise then that Victoria Bean and Chris McCabe included Winston in The New Concrete: Visual Poetry in the 21st Century, an illustrated overview of artists and poets working at the intersection of visual art and literature.  As if to underline Bean’s and McCabe’s wisdom, Winston and Oliver Jeffers published the charming and innovative A Child of Books shortly afterwards. Winston’s creativity is equally at home with the trade book, installations of book art and finely crafted unique works.

Bookmarking Book Art — Justin James Reed

2013 by Justin James Reed Publication Date: 2012 Artwork type: Editioned book Medium: inkjet Dimensions: 9.5 in W x 13.0 in H Binding Type: pamphlet Publisher: Horses Think Press
2013 by Justin James Reed
Publication Date: 2012
Artwork type: Editioned book
Medium: Inkjet, UV Firefly Ink
Dimensions: 9.5 in W x 13.0 in H
Binding Type: pamphlet
Publisher: Horses Think Press


2013 is apparently a booklet of blank pages, until the lights go out and the reader begins to search the pages with the ultraviolet flashlight that accompanies the book in its archival box. Is this reading with one’s whole body? The tactile nature of a book takes on more than three-dimensionality through the pages’ reaction to the reader’s gestures.  The time it takes to “read” the book is the time it takes to perceive its ghostly images.  Reading the book becomes experiencing the book.

I enjoy the idea that when a viewer first encounters the book it appears to be blank. Indeed, this notion of the “invisible book,” was an important starting point for the work.  And in this, ingrained in the book itself, are two very concrete ways to experience the book: as a set of blank pages and then, with the help of an ultraviolet light source, a completely radical way of looking at pictures. My intention is to have this process lead a viewer to perceive the imagery less representationally and more sculpturally….


For me, this book is broadly about the future and the end or rebirth of time. The title, “2013,” came about because of the rapid pace of technology and culture. No longer do we have to look far into the future to perceive change, we witness it daily, to such an extent that even the idea of the year 2013 seems far away and distant. Beyond this though is also the concept that time is a construct. Again, this ties into perception, that in addition to the viewing experience, I want to reinforce the notion that time itself is just a way of perceiving reality. The iconography in the book: sculpture, form, nature, digital information, etc., is all mixed together so that a viewer encounters each on the same plane, and by the end of the book the number 2013 takes on the same qualities as one of the landscapes, the number has meaning.


One of my main goals with this book was also to facilitate a group experience. In my mind most books are made to be enjoyed by oneself. However, with this book, it is my intention to make something that encourages people to share in the viewing experience…. I am fascinated by the idea that an object, a book, can be a reason for people to come together and share in something. In some ways this is one of the most important components of the book.


Related articles:


Bookmarking Book Art — Paul Forte

Transformed Volumes | Exhibition of Artist’s Bookworks | Numéro Cinq.

Paul Forte has assembled a display of his own bookworks and those of Doug Beube, Claire Dannenbaum, Donna Ruff, Jacqueline Rush Lee and Irwin Susskind for the Hera Gallery, Wakefield, RI, June 15 to July 13.

“Liber Dermis (Skin Book),” Paul Forte, 2008
Medical illustrations (human skin cross section) on sealed medical book, mounted on wood, 17 1/2 x 12 1/2 x 3/4 inches

Douglas Glover’s Numéro Cinq provides an excellent venue for Forte’s introduction to this exhibition and additional photographs of items with artists’ statements.  If you cannot go to Rhode Island, visit Numéro Cinq.

Photograph of Hera Gallery's exterior
Photograph of Hera Gallery’s exterior (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bookmarking Book Art — Jacqueline Rush Lee

Dictionary Detail (From the Series Ex Libris), 2000Petrified Book (High-fired Book in Kiln)H 7” x W 15” x D7”H18 x W38 x D18cm
Dictionary Detail (From the Series Ex Libris), 2000
Petrified Book (High-fired Book in Kiln)
H 7” x W 15” x D7”
H18 x W38 x D18cm

From the artist’s website:

Jacqueline has been working with books for fifteen years and is recognized for working with the book form. Her artworks are featured in blogs, magazines, books and international press. Selected bibliography include: BOOK ART: Iconic Sculptures and Installations Made from Books; PAPERCRAFT: Design and Art with Paper and PLAYING WITH BOOKS: The Art of Up cycling, Deconstructing, and Reimagining the Book. Jacqueline’s work will also be featured in Art Made from Books, Chronicle Press, 2013 by Laura Heyenga. …  She exhibits her artwork nationally and internationally and her work is in private and public collections, including the Allan Chasanoff Book Under Pressure Collection, NY.

The Chasanoff collection connects Lee with Doug Beube, whose work has been noted here. Beube was the curator of the Chasanoff Collection from 1993 to 2011.   In his interview with Judith Hoffberg in UmbrellaVol 25, No 3-4 (2002), he comments on the purposes of Allan Chasanoff, a book artist in his own right, in putting together the collection “The Book Under Pressure”:

There are a number of ideas that meets Allan’s criteria in acquiring work, of which I’ll try to convey a couple. The first is; the problem of the book to perpetuate information is inefficient, it’s an obsolete technology due to the advent of the computer.  Another premise is; at the latter part of the 20th century the book is being used for purposes other than its utilitarian design. Allan has been working extensively with computers and digital imaging since 1985 and understands that the book is as “an outdated modality”, he’s fond of saying. He’s not interested in the book decaying or in its destruction, nor is he referring to the content of books, artist’s books, production costs, mass appeal or where they get exhibited. His interest is in the book as an antiquated technology.

Lee’s process of kiln firing to transform individual books, as with the dictionary above, strikes a harmonious chord. The kiln does not reduce the book to ash but rather petrifies it.  Another way of exploring “the book under pressure.”   Lee’s and Beube’s work are brought together again by Paul Forte  at the Hera Gallery for an exhibition entitled Transformed Volumes.

Bookmarking Book Art — Carl Pappenheim

Well-reviewed (see below), Spineless Classics — Carl Pappenheim’s prints that use all the words of a book to outline an emblematic image of the work — raise questions unasked by the interviewers:  If we stand before a Spineless Classic and read it, does the experience of reading the book change?  How?  What is the difference between art and decor?  Between art and craft?  Between artwork and mechanical reproduction?  


Spineless Classics Turns Whole Books Into Graphic Art 2011

Spineless Classics 2011

Interview With Carl Pappenheim, Bringing Novels To Your Walls At Spineless Classics 2011

How to get your favourite book on your wall; 5 questions for Carl Pappenheim of Spineless Classics 2012

A Book on One Page … 2012

Carl Pappenheim: The Artist Using The Whole Texts Of Novels To Create Beautiful Silhouettes  2013

The Art of Writing; or Writing as Art 2013