Editioned, Interactive, Paper Sculptures
This was the phrase I used to describe my bookarts practice to Chrissy and Kyle during my interview with Spark Box Studio a few months ago. It stumbled off my tongue in a kind of unexpected way, and afterwards I marvelled at its awkward accuracy.
Watch the clip below, or the whole interview here.
As a person immersed in books and art and who occasionally pushes the boundaries of what might be considered a book, I often joke that “everything is a book”.
If we break it down:
Editioned means created in a numbered series of 2 or more. Not one-of-a-kind. Also not mass produced with unknown thousands of copies. In my book and art descriptions you will often see the phrase "Limited edition of X". In printmaking, "editioning" also means to go through all the prints you made in that series and determine which ones match each other well enough, or are in good enough condition to be included in the numbered edition. It also means literally adding the edition number, title, (and sometimes printer's chop) to the print and signing it.
A book does not have to be editioned. A book can exist singularly, think: illuminated manuscripts, or in contemporary times: commisions of favourite fanfictions. A book can exist in indeterminate quantities, think: ebooks. A book can exist in an un-numbered (but countable) quantity; most contemporary books do.
My books are editioned.
To me, interactive means that you can touch it, and in fact you have to touch it in order to give it life. I have said before that a piece of paper that has been printed on both sides is a book, simply because you have to turn it over to see all of it. I think that all books... with the exception of maybe audiobooks (?) are interactive.
This means that Jessica Magonet's "Epilogue" is not a book, as much as I would like it to be. This is why my web shop category with the books in it is actually called "collaborations".
I don't think I need to explain paper, although I will add a caveat that my books have included such other materials as thread, cloth, wood, and metal on occasion.
"Sculptures" alludes to a three-dimensionality present in most books (not the digital ones). This is something that I feel my books have more and less of, depending on how you interact with them. Jasmine Gui's "If a Carp Dreams of the Milky Way" scroll feels less sculptural when it is unrolled, and hung on a wall, and more sculptural when it is rolled and set on a shelf. Conversely, Ola Bjelica's "The Solitudes" looks very un-sculptural until you open it and then it feels very sculptural.
(Incidentally, "sculptural" is one of those words that makes less sense the more you use it)
You're thinking of a "codex"
If you're sitting here, reading this and thinking, this is overly complicated?? I know what a book is. It's a bunch of sheets of paper with text on them, attached along one edge. That is a codex but it is not the only definition of a book. Check out those new horizons!
Now that you know what this silly description means, you can start to think about books the way that I do!
Have you ever read a back-cover blurb and thought, wow! this books sounds amazing, and then you read it, and feel let down? You wonder, what was that amazing thing that existed briefly in my brain when I read the blurb? Is that worth recording? This is the attitude I want you to bring to the phrase "Editioned, Interactive, Paper Sculptures". What does your mind conjure? Honestly, I would love to see/hear about it.