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.

Further reading on Sam Winston and his art:

 An exploration of semantics or an effective re-structuring of what typography and words REALLY are, whatever the case, Sam Winston’s work is breathtaking. A visual explorer of language, the London-based artist and educator has spent his working life examining the way we approach all manner of literary artifacts. Always engaging his audience with words in a visually stunning manner, Winston started writing stories and selling artist books through London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts and …

Winston’s experiments came from looking at the structures of different types of literature: from storybooks to bus timetables: “The way you navigate a timetable is very different to the way you read a short story” he comments. “I wanted to take these different types of visual navigation and introduce them to each other: a timetable re-ordering all the words from beauty and the beast, or a newspaper report on Snow White.” By imposing the visual rules of one style of writing to a different system of organizing language, Winston has created a visually arresting and verbally intriguing piece.” Paula Carson, Graphic Poetry. June 2005

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