Sunday, July 21, 2013

Amanda Couch, Reflection in Digestion, 2012

Front cover of this fascinating publication that combines durational performance in both its creation and in Couch's subsequent public readings of this 9 metres accordion.
Photo: Emmaunuelle Waeckerle

Amanda Couch doing a public reading of her book at the Small Publishers Fair on November 17th, 2012 in London. The manuscript was created earlier in the year during "Book Live," an international symposium at London's South Bank University. The book came into being as a durational performance during which Couch created the manuscript. Below are some of her texts explaining how the book came about and the issues & processes involved in creating it and performing it:

"...this manuscript [originated] through the performative act of copying and re-writing of texts made on a Post-Graduate Certificate in Teaching, reflections on research as practice, and personal and phenomenological narrative.

Reading, in medieval times, argued by [Mary] Carruthers in "The Book and the Body,"  was ‘a bodily performance’, rather than simply the decoding of words on a page. Similarly, Reflection in Digestion reconnects the body (of both writer and viewer) with writing through the action of the scribe, reading, consideration, translation, and the act of copying reconstituting a relationship arguably severed by the invention of the printing press."

In Couch's press release for the Reflection on Digestion performance reading (see above image) she further expands on the themes that are woven into the piece and its performance: 

"Reflection on Digestion is an epic work. As book, it is nine metres, folded back and forth into an eighteen-page concertina form. Its covers are of undyed calfskin, and its eighteen pages are made of 410 gsm white somerset satin paper relief printed from photo polymer plates.

It is book but it is also performance: 37 hours of performance. The bodily act of the scribe originated the manuscript, which was then transferred and translated through digital and mechanical technologies at UCA Farnham, and the hand-made, to produce an edition of three book works.

The scribed text stems from a body of knowledge encountered whilst on a post-graduate course in education. Writing, knowledge and the body are explored, and the metaphors of reflection and digestion consider process, processing, and ways of knowing and becoming. ‘Digestion’ stems from the word ‘digest’, which can both refer to an arrangement of written work; and to the processing or making sense of knowledge and experience, as well as to break down and absorb food.

Reflection on Digestion’s concertina configuration makes reference to the image of the digestive system and connotes the meaning of the words ‘reflection’ and ‘reflexive’ coming from the sense of a physical and metaphorical bending or turning back paralleling the visual image of the gastrointestinal tract with its nine metres of twists and turns crammed into the body’s cavity.

Alimentary undulations are further mirrored in the loops and garlands of the handwriting itself which is a joined up text, each word tied to the previous, the next, and to the subsequent line, so that it is a kind of Boustrophedon, a continuous line running from left to right and right to left from the beginning of the book to the end. This continuous script refers to Latin texts from the early Christian era, when there were no spaces between words in a manuscript. In my scripto continua, the language is not easily legible enabling the lettering to hover between word and image, content and form.

The performative aspect of Reflection in Digestion is also embedded in the experience of the audience. It reconnects the reader to a corporeal relationship with the book and reading, in that they are required to negotiate the monumental, physical nine-metre form of the book, as well as the awkward image-text within, reconstituting a relationship arguably severed by the invention of the printing press. "

For further information about this work and Couch's other projects see her website at:
Photo: Helena G. Anderson
Photo: Helena G. Anderson
Photo: Helena G. Anderson

Thursday, July 4, 2013

M. Kasper, Open-Book, Ugly Duckling Presse, New York, ed. 500, 2010

Subtitled "An Illustrated Story," this book is a meditation in texts and simulated marble of the term 'marble revetment.' This ancient art is usually seen in old churches and mosques and involves the placing of marble panels next to each other to either complement or contrast their different structures (open-book panels). Kasper creates simulated marble structures and overprints these with his observations from his research into the term and its activity, while his larger inquiry is into the nature of the book itself.

Single page 7.25" x 4.25", 28 pages, unfolded width 9' 11".

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

30 Americans (June 14 - Sept. 8, 2013), exhibition brochure, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI

Cover image: Kehinde Wiley, Triple Portrait of Charles 1, 2007
The calendar of events for the exhibition.
A simple accordion folded brochure for this fascinating show of works by 30 African American artists at the Milwaukee Art Museum. A wonderful back cover for the show features Nick Cave's Soundsuit, 2008. Single page 9" x 4", width fully open 24".

Single page 9" x 4", width fully open 24".

Tom Clohosy Cole, Space Race, NoBrow Press, London, 2012


Another excellent addition to NoBrow's accordion/concertina publication series. This visual history of the space race is beautifully illustrated by Tom Cole. While there's no conceptual or arty trickery to this book, it does use the panoramic features of the accordion to great advantage in telling this story. Individual pages 9.25" x5.5" and fully extended 4' 5". Here's the link to other Nobrow accordions: NoBrow Products

Dogan Surek, Perfect World, 1996.

Another quirky linocut accordion from Dogan Surek that's made up of 12 pages of apocalyptic imagery, and a final question connected to the last two images asking "What is your idea of "Make a Fresh Start," either photo 1 or 2.

Each page 5.75" x 4" fully open 4' long.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Egyptian postcard accordions (3), no dates

This plethora of images reminds me of a quote that I've used before in this blog and it's by Heda Kovaly from her obituary in the New York Times titled "Heda Kovaly Dies at 91: Wrote of Life Under Totalitarianism," Dec. 9, 2010, "I carry the past inside me like an accordion, like a book of picture postcards that people bring home as souvenirs from foreign cities, small and neat," she wrote in her memoir. "But all it takes is to lift one corner of the top card for an endless snake to escape, zigzag joined to zigzag, the sign of the viper, and instantly all the pictures line up before my eyes." 

Berlin: Popoutmap, Compass Maps. Ltd., UK, 2013


This map of Berlin is a curious combination of an old fashioned 'pop-up' book, coupled with what the publishers call 'a popoutmap.'  Either way it's a unique publication that utilizes 4 accordions working in tandem to pull off this clever map fold. Closed 3.75" x 5.5", unfolded width 20.5"

Monday, July 1, 2013

Accordion address books (2), 1990s-2003


I found these two tiny accordion address books amongst the personal effects of my recently deceased parents-in-law, Leon Ishkanian and Alice Tchakedjian in Heliopolis, Egypt earlier this year. They both appear to be address books for specific holiday destinations: Sydney, Australia and California, USA. Individual pages for each are 3.75" x 2.5" with an opened length of 21.5" & 23" respectively. The back and front panels of both books are magnetized in order to keep the publication firmly closed. Two very interesting booklets in terms of their function, economy of size and the ease with which the relevant information can be scanned and retrieved. 

Here's a link to a blog about my trip to Cairo in January, as well as another trip that I had to take in February under very different, and tragic circumstances: Egyptian Dispatches

Fan, unknown author, no date

It's only just occurred to me that fans, in all their variety, should also be considered part of the accordion family.