Art and book : a commentary on artists' books

Emslie, Anne (2007-03)

The thesis spans two volumes ... Volume two is an artist's book and although it is part of the project I have set myself, it is not being submitted with the theoretical component of the MA dissertation, but as part of the practical component.' -- Abstract.

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2007.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The thesis investigates the contemporary practice of book art, examining in particular the manner in which it fits both into the tradition of the book and the tradition of art making. The thesis spans two volumes. Volume One discusses the phenomenon of the artist's book from three vantage points: the attempts to define it, the attempts to catalogue it and the attempts to interpret it. Volume Two is an artist's book and although it is part of the project I have set myself, it is not being submitted with the theoretical component of the MA dissertation, but as part of the practical component. (Briefly, one of the tasks it embarks upon is an examination of the phenomenon of thesis writing, as understood and endeavoured by myself in the production of the first volume - in this sense it is self-reflective. Another is an examination of some aspects of my attempts to make examples of artist's books, which includes an investigation of some of the recurrent themes and preoccupations of my work) Volume One is set out in three chapters. The first chapter pursues a definition of book art and the artist's book in order to draw some perimeters around the subject, and to build a picture of its nature. In the course of doing this, the ideas of some book artists and book art commentators are considered in an attempt to create a richer tapestry of understanding. In the next chapter some of the ways in which book art has been categorised are discussed. This is in order to more finely delineate the nature and scope of book art. It is also to bring some clarity to bear upon the different components and manifestations of a vast and sometimes confusing oeuvre. I then suggest a system of classification of my own which offers an adjacent model for investigating artists' books and the endeavour of book art. With the above model in place, I undertake a foray into the arena of interpretation. Here I suggest the suitability of adopting certain methodologies of interpretation that come from the field of contemporary literary studies in general, and the interpretation of poetry in particular. I draw comparisons between the book artist and the poet, and suggest that they occupy a similar territory of meaning making. In the course of laying out my arguments in the three chapters, I refer extensively to examples of artists' books in order to make particular points. Where I consider it apt, I draw upon my book art as a source of example. In this way, I am able to weave into the text some information and reflection about my own practice and concerns as a book artist.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Daar word in die tesis ondersoek ingestel na die hedendaagse praktyk van die boekkuns en in die besonder die wyse waarop dit aansluit by die tradisie van die boek en die tradisie van die kuns. Die tesis beslaan twee volumes. Volume Een bespreek die fenomeen van die kunstenaarsboek vanuit drie invalshoeke: pogings om dit te definieer, pogings om dit te katalogisieer en pogings om dit te interpreteer. Volume Twee is 'n kunstenaarsboek en, hoewel dit deel uitmaak van die projek wat ek ondemeem het, word dit nie voorgele saam met die teoretiese komponent van die MA- dissertasie nie maar as deel van die praktiese komponent. (Een van die take wat dit ondemeem is, kortliks, 'n ondersoek van die fenomeen tesis-skryf soos ek dit met die produksie van die eerste volume self verstaan en benader het - in die sin is dit selfreflektief. 'n Ander taak is 'n ondersoek van sekere aspekte van my pogings om kunstenaarsboeke te maak, insluitende 'n ondersoek na van die deurlopende temas en preokupasies van my werk.) Volume Een bestaan uit drie hoofstukke. Die eerste hoofstuk streef na 'n definisie van die boekkuns en die kunstenaarsboek met die doel om die onderwerp nader te ornlyn en 'n beeld daarvan op te bou. In die proses word die idees van 'n aantal boekkunstenaars en boekkuns-kommentatore oorweeg in die poging om n ryker begripstapisserie te weef. In die daaropvolgende hoofstuk word van die wyses waarop die boekkuns gekategoriseer is, bespreek, om die aard en rykwydte van die boekkuns nog nader te omlyn. Dit work ook gedoen om lig te werp op die verskillende onderdele en manifestasies van 'n omvangryke en soms verwarrende oeuvre. Ek stel vervolgens my eie klassifiseringsisteem voor, wat 'n verdere model hied vir die ondersoek van kunstenaarsboeke en die boekkunsbedryf. Aan die hand van hierdie model betree ek dan die arena van interpretasie. Ek stel voor dat sekere interpretasiemetodes ontleen aan die tydgenootlike literatuurwetenskap, en spesifiek die interpreteer van poesie, oorweeg word. Ek vergelyk die boekkunstenaar met die digter en stel voor dat hulle op soortgelyke wyses met die skep van betekenis omgaan. In die loop van die uiteensetting van my argument in drie hoofstukke, verwys ek ekstensief na voorbeelde van kunstenaarsboeke om spesifieke punte te maak. Waar ek dit as gepas beskou, verwys ek, by wyse van illustrasie, na my eie boekkuns. Op hierdie manier is dit vir my moontlik om inligting en besinning oor my eie praktyk en pre-okkupasies as boekkunstenaar met die teks te verweef.

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