Archive for category about books

Big and Small: Recent Developements in the World of Books

I love it when this sort of coincidence occurs …

Late last year, a miniature manuscript by the 14 year-old Charlotte Brontë was discovered and sold at auction for a record (ridiculous) sum of money.  At half the size of the average credit card, the text (reaching approximately 4000 words in its 19 insy little pages) needs to be read with a magnifying glass.

At approximately the same time in New Zealand, the update of the magnificent Earth Blue atlas was released; Earth Platinum.  The world’s largest atlas, it measures 6 feet by 9 feet, takes two people to turn a page, and is being sold for, once again, rather a ridiculous amount of money.

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Brontë’s manuscript is set in the fictional Glass Town, created by the sister’s for the entertainment of their younger brother.  The atlas is a document striving ever towards an accurate representation of the earth’s surface.  However, the two books can only move towards each other; the Brontë book, with its layers and complexities creating its fictional land of Glass Town, is a contradictory yet complimentary partner to the atlas, a representation of another land, its layers and complexities born of centuries of interpretations by the subjectivities and egos of man.



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Yolunda Hickman, Acre, (2011), 64 books

Acre. Each book holds 253 A3 pages which, if laid out side by side instead of being stacked and bound, would equal the equivalent of 1/64th of an acre in surface area. The whole work is 64 books (16 192 A3 pages) divided and bound in equal fractions of the whole.  Each book is numbered on the spine, 1 through 64, and weighs 4.5 kg, totaling 288 kilograms for the pile. The scale of 1:64 is a common scale ration for die-cast models, and allows the books to be divided fractionally into halves, quarters, eighths, and so on. As the work was installed, it is close to A1 (four A3) in size which is a metric measurement compared to the imperial acre.Each book is its own space, but also part of the whole.

Acre, is a way to break down the world into more containable, manageable, understandable pieces so that it becomes a relatable physical, visual representation. Acres as a unit of measurement are only used for land and is becoming obsolete but still relatively widely understood. I wanted to see a whole acre in a single glance, without turning my head or missing a piece. An acre of land becomes folded down into a paper form, similar to the way a large road map is folded. The representation of landscape collapses into a hand held object.

I kind of joked that I can’t afford my own acre of land, so instead I’ll just make my own acre of paper. I’ll just live in books instead.

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bedding plants

I have been thinking about the way that non-fiction books order information and considering ways in which this could be translated via my own practice and interests to create a new book. so far there seems to be some major and essential step missing, but i have taken pleasure in a book on bedding plants….. a lovely title once it is out of context. I am interested in translating the photos in the book via tracing in fine-liner to simplify the images with a 70’s flower-power aesthetic.

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i am enjoying the translation via scanning, reducing size and printing, in terms of making a book i like that the finished work is the printed image, not the tracing itself. i.e. the image in the book is the work, not the documentation of the work.

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Earth Bound Sky Bound

Last year, one of my favourite artists, Daniel Eatock released a book, Earth Bound Sky Bound with the small Venice based publishing company Automatic Books. The publication is a selection of 52 landscape photographs with the horizon line hidden in the binding of the book.

Eatock says: “The photographs are not precious and special, they are just a set of snap shots that are unified by the horizontal line of the horizon. When I took the photographs I was happy and inspired in a cliche way, a took a snap shot of the view to mark the special moment. I did not take them as ‘beautiful photographs’ instead see them an amateur snap shots of ‘beautiful moments’. They have not been taken consciously in preparation for a project, unlike the other sets of photographs on my website. I only noticed them as a set by chance as I was sorting through my photo archive and wanted to unify them and work with them. Not highlighting any one picture or showing how beautiful they are but to deal with them in a semi rational way. Then I arrived at the idea of hiding the line of the horizon in the margins of a book. Hiding the point of interest.”

In some pages the obscured horizon line is imposed by the viewer, using the shadowed biding space as an assumed horizon line. In other pages, there is a noticeable jump of pictorial information between the two separate spaces of earth and sky within the image frame. We know that the horizon exists, but when this particular part of place is hidden in the folds of a glue binding, the infinitude of earth and sky becomes broken and separated. In such, the space is folded.

Eatock breaks one of the basic formatting rules of publishing by losing the page margins into the binding. But when the conventions of book formatting fall back in on themselves, an additional in-between space is created. The book then becomes a sculptural medium rather than simply an information receptacle. The physicality of the object is utilised as a constructed, collapsable space.

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The Future of the Book

Today I read a blog post by author Sam Harris titled The Future of the Book.

“Writers, artists, and public intellectuals are nearing some sort of precipice: Their audiences increasingly expect digital content to be free…Where publishing is concerned, the Internet is both midwife and executioner. It has never been easier to reach large numbers of readers, but these readers have never felt more entitled to be informed and entertained for free.”

While the article focuses largely on the financial and sales impact of the Internet on the publishing industry, it was the title that made me read it. I am intrigued that over my life time, the primary information medium of print – be it books, newspapers or magazines – has been overtaken by pixels on a screen. Digital is often cheaper to produce and more immediately accessible, but can’t be handled like a paper book.

In the past, the printed word in books has been culturally elevated to a cannon of societal truth, but as information changes so rapidly, the production time-frame of print is not longer compatible with the rate of knowledge. Books seem to be passing into decorative curiosity and a nostalgic artifact.

This is perhaps the ideal space for the artist to reclaim the book, when others turn to the digital space of blogs and Kindle. It is an opportunity to share and keep and also places this project in an interesting space: artists using the internet to birth a book.

Yolunda Hickman


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wait and see

When I was a child my family had a book called Wait And See. In my recollection it is small, squarish with a hard cover and cotton stitching that was somewhat old and sagging, so that the pages were a bit loose. The book had some story about a girl, which I don’t remember at all. What I do remember is that every second page of the book said “wait and see” the words were in quite small font, right in the middle of the page, like this:

Mostly I used to read the book by reading every second page, the wait and see page. Maybe it was because I was not very good at reading, or maybe compared to the trite stories most children’s books contained ‘wait and see’ was quite compelling. Read this way it was all waiting and no seeing. The potential was endless.

Not that this has too much to do with an artist’s book, which presumably has as much to do with seeing as waiting. It does however have a bit to do with looking at a book (as opposed to reading it for its story) I remember this book as a tactile object; it’s thin yellowed pages slightly loose on their cottons and those little words floating in the empty page. I also, retrospectively, remember it as a performative moment, I could choose how to read the book, and by so doing reinvent it entirely.  I did not have to be an obedient viewer reading from beginning to end, it worked just as well backwards.


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