Jat Bains has created a number of works that deal with ideas of organisation and categorisation, themes that fit particularly well with book forms. Her Length Book shows an attempt to understand space and distance on a personal level, counteracting feelings of smallness and insignificance by using pieces of her own body as a unit of measurement.
By only showing bodies in parts, she removes humanity from the photographs and becomes a part of the scenery. In identifying herself (and others) as a unit of measurement she shows a powerful desire to see the world in an objective and rational manner, but there’s a childlike playfulness to the images of bare hands and feet. It’s serious photographic subject matter for grown ups – urban landscapes, parks, churches, building sites – treated like toys.
Other book-shaped works include this set of accordion books documenting views the artist saw from her window while making a journey on the London Underground.
This is another work that plays with ideas of organisation and measurement in a way that fits really well with the book format. The windows of the tube are used as an objective framing device, providing a unifying shape to the images and a chaotic, random selection of content. Playing with the passivity of letting machines dictate the subject matter of the work has resulted in an ironically gritty and punk aesthetic, disguised by neat, clean covers.
There’s a lot more on her website and in addition to photo work, Jat works with illustration and graphic design. I’m excited to see what she’ll be bringing to the Book Arts Fayre in February!
Here are some odds and ends from old books to inspire some new book artists! It’s funny to see how the traditional or conservative designs of one era look bright and audacious to another, not to mention how novels looked in a time before it was so easy to put a photograph or painting on a cover.
Another presence at BAF 6(coming up on the 25th of February) will be Nick Davies/Nik DavEz’s translation of Roland Barthes’ book The Pleasure of the Text into the language of text messages and internet instant messenger services. Davies used the database at transl8it.com for some of the text, while other parts were done “manually”, such as the more academic terms, which were then added to the transl8it database for the benefit of future users.
Davies references the slang used in A Clockwork Orange as an example of language acting as the site of conflict between the values of one generation and the next. Even the title draws attention to this – the double meaning of the word “text” makes it an essential part of the academic’s vocabulary as well as the tech-savvy 21st century teen, as both a noun and now a verb. Davies is humorous as well as conceptual as he forces supposedly disparate parts of culture to speak each others’ language.
In the likes of A Clockwork Orange and Finnegan’s Wake, deviation from the English language as we know it and the constant generation of new words makes us work harder during the act of reading: here Davies’ translation forces readers to become translators themselves. On a purely aesthetic level the pages look completely unlike regular English: words are jagged and choppy and the use of capital letters and numbers pull our attention all over the page. Does Davies distil the ideas behind the text and create a more efficient way of writing, or is the result more distracting, flamboyant and decorative than what we’re used to?
Keep checking the links to the right for new additions to the line-up for Ffotogallery’s 2012 Book Arts Fayre on Saturday 25th February.