Swipe is a project I started about halfway through my doctorate, when I was scanning some book pages and seeing the tips of my fingers appear in the output, pushing the pages down onto the glass. Decades ago, as an art student, I used to photocopy parts of my body and made work from the results. Decades later, photocopiers can also scan, email, and connect. I began pressing the scan button and moving my fingers along the glass in various ways, following the laser-light, reaching into it and away, gesturing and sliding. The result was organic and fleshy — the body in the machine — with striations of light and smooth green underwater colours. I made a zine from it, and invited poets and artists to connect with it textually.
Some responded directly onto the pages (Gardner, Haynes, Shags, Webb), others sent me a script to typeset and I let myself react to various things: a form that the poet had used (Munden, writing for each page in triplets, which made boat-like shapes floating through the green, Malins, who cut and pasted her words on rough scraps of paper but wanted them to be smoothed out); or the tone of their voice/s (Smith, Carroll, Bullock, Strange); or their connection to technology (Gross, de Rozario). The poets focus on the hand/body, or the machine, or the now-familiar act of swiping a mobile device. I received a package from German artist Ulrike Stoltz, half of USUS, who made multiple responses, one of them being a completely analogue re-drawing of each page of the zine.
Each poet, in return for their contribution, gets a PDF copy for digital use and a bundle of hard copies. The project is ongoing, but slowing down: it is contingent upon my access to the one particular institutional machine that prints the copies just so. The project will retreat from hard copy as the machine becomes inaccessible: I intend to make an online iteration of them, where the viewer can click between the versions, and perhaps mix and match like a sequential exquisite corpse. Swipe is about interaction and connection, yet there is a separateness, a pane of glass between text and image, the poet and myself, that seems to illustrate the space between writer, page and page production.
Caren Florance joined us as artist-in-residence in the print centre studios from 12th – 20th September 2018, after the IMPACT Printmaking Conference in Spain. During her time here, Caren made a new series of letterpress printed works for an upcoming solo show in Australia. She also did a show and tell of her project for MAMDP students on 19th September, and has donated a print and a copy of the artist’s book she made here to our archive. The SWIPE collection of books is also being donated to Bower Ashton Library’s special collections.
UWE Bristol, City Campus at Bower Ashton, Kennel Lodge Road, Bristol BS3 2JT.