Artists’ Books Exhibition, UWE, Bristol, UK
I do like books. I like reading books. I like what books stand for. I like their continuous presence as objects. I like that they take space and can be touched. I like the look of books on a shelf; order is apparent even if the books are not arranged. I like that thought is present in a book. I like the continuity – that there is more on the other side of the page. I like the appearance of letters and the way they sit in row after row, creating a rectangle within a rectangle.
Artists’ books, like all books are a handleable, one to one intimate form which invite an exchange with the reader/viewer. I love the thought that my own book works, the ones I have made, will be in the hands of others. My ideal viewer might be a 70-year-old curious child. I hope for a willing suspension of disbelief, follow me and you might enjoy.
My practice is foremost a multi-disciplinary one; books to video to installations to performance. My work reflects my interest and excitement in what if situations, occurrences in which one thing meets another, an activated interrelationship of two elements. These works often comprise of two sides, as with the structure and mechanics of a book. From recto to verso verso to recto, the viewer/reader makes an adjustment in order to complete the viewing, a movement both physical and of the mind – as image enters the viewer’s space there is perception of one then/or of the other side.
This collaborative process of audience engagement is also in play when I initiate participatory projects for artists, which in addition to books also include printmaking, film and performances. I co-ordinate an artists’ group (AMBruno) whose members have an interest in the medium of the book. We make new book works for exhibitions and fairs, for these events we respond to a given theme, such as Black Circle or Lists.
Here are four examples of my books.
O – I consists of sequence of pages on which a large black circle is being squeezed by two people from left and right; reducing its volume and gradually transforming the circle into a line. It is not clear if the circle is a void, a large ball or a large drawing, it could be all of these. This idea of representing an abstract form, and for it to be manipulated in the real amuses me – the entwining of real people with a graphic representation challenges the rules of the world
Swinging Susan,is a book of joy, a dance with words with no punctuation. Lots of S words wind themselves round and round a single leaf. I wanted the words to stand by themselves and yet link to others without a hint of narrative. This book is an unedited version of all a lexicographer’s Sunday play. To follow the text the viewer turns the page thus following the S shape.
Off, a one-fold book, the form is derived from a picture of a man standing at an odd angle in another book (Mess: the manual of accidents and mistakes by Keri Smith). A photo of this book being held so that the figure is seen as perpendicular dictates the unusual shape of my own book; “Reading is not always straight forward.” – John McDowall.
AMBruno’s latest project is on the theme of Red, for this I made the four page book Death and… . On the verso page is a reproduction of Nature morte avec oiseaux morts et cerises, an oil painting by Jean-Baptiste Oudry (1712). On the opposite page is a red stain that mirrors the cherries and berries in the painting. This blotch seeps through to the following verso page. These stains propose the possibility of three different reds – paint, ink and juice and three alternate time zones.