Tim Shore and Tracy Tomlinson
The accidental and the found: Chance encounters in the making and meaning of the artists book.
The authors are interested in the constructed nature of form and meaning of the artists book, how the book can be found, ‘unmade’ rather than ‘made’ and open to a multiplicity of readings that are constructed by the reader. Found can be understood as: a methodology or strategy for assembling the contents of the book; offering the viewer possibilities in constructing meaning; through words, images and the material qualities of the book.
In Tomlinson’s ‘accidental diaries’ the artist explores a publication that gathers and interprets found fragments, juxtaposing text, ephemera and objects to create a fleeting portrait of an individual. Shore’s books about walking, looking and collecting use systems such as mnemonics and bird spotting to build books that are ephemeral, momentary and flighty; books that attempt to capture a moment in time and have a light touch. Both artists strive to make books that are open to interpretation and difficult to pin down.
We will put forward examples of this approach exploring a more open and enquiring reader-author relationship, through the artists book.
I am a visual artist living and working in Derby. I work with moving image, text, drawing and installation. I studied graphic design at Wolverhampton Polytechnic, and animation at the Royal College of Art, London. My practice explores the evidence and history of place and the narratives, stories and retellings that make a place known.
I have been exhibiting artist books since 2015, when my first book ‘a history’ was accepted for the 18th International Contemporary Artists’ Book Fair at the Tetley, Leeds. That year it was also selected for the Sheffield International Book Prize (2015) and exhibited at Bank Street Arts, Sheffield. A copy was purchased by the Brotherton Library, University of Leeds for their artists’ book collection.
This year I was invited to exhibit my work at the inaugural Malmö Artist’s Book Biennial (MABB2018) in Sweden, and I currently have two books in the touring Liverpool Book Arts Frankenstein 2018 exhibition. My hand-drawn artists book ‘exercise book’ was selected for the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize 2018 and can currently be seen at The Gallery at Arts University Bournemouth, and in the new year it tours to the Royal Drawing School, London.
Recent work has focussed on my daily walk to work and has explored the experience of walking, close looking and remembering or recalling. The diaries and texts of Derby artist Ian Breakwell (1943 – 2005) have been an important influence for this recent work, grounded as they are in place, and the small and overlooked. Walking and Talking (2018) is a verbatim word list transcribed from audio on my phone that describes everything I see of note as I walked to work one morning, including my comment and opinion. Mnemonic (2018) is structured around a tabbed word list that I first created and refined as I walked, as a way of remembering that day’s tasks. One or two birds singing is a new book about the dearth of bird song in the city centre on my early morning walk to work.
Something about making, found materials, materials, tactile, haptic, etc.
one or two birds singing (new)
The study is a practice-led investigation of typography and book design as literary form; developing and extending graphic devices as authoring strategies in the construction of visual prose narratives, uniting word, image poetry and prose to achieve an enhanced reader experience and extend knowledge of the form.
My practice centres around the artist’s book. As the physical book increasingly competes with digital platforms, publishers, designers and authors are focusing anew on the distinct qualities a printed novel can offer as an integrated visual and text based experience. In Europe and America in recent years there has been a resurgence of novels with elements such as photography, drawing, typographic intervention and ephemeral found materials, as embedded aspects of the narrative.
Techniques such as layering, superimposition and integration of text and image are standard procedures in radical contemporary graphic design, but they are more seldom found in literary fiction. My practice questions the role of the designer and the application of typography and design in the contemporary novel, examining conventions and challenging them. This research aims to achieve an enhanced reader experience through visual prose created as graphic communication by designers as authors.
Through this practice-led research, visual prose narratives integrate factual content gathered through oral history methods, to create a series of portraits as a multi-faceted visual and ‘word-based’ reader experience, in the form of visual prose novels. Multiple perspectives of lives as fragments of luminous moments or shards of meaning, prioritise the ephemeral and seek to communicate an understanding of individual lives from many tangents, as a magnified understanding of the human condition. The tradition of the diary is a major feature in the development of content and aims to capture and communicate the seemingly trivial or everyday aspects of the human condition. In our lives, through notebooks and lists we create what I consider to be ‘accidental diaries’. As a progression of the ‘Evelyn’ publication reflecting a life through objects owned by Evelyn, my work has moved towards gathering and interpreting ‘accidental diary’ documents.
As concrete poetry united the visual with the literary in the early 1950s, this research critically assesses and advances the emerging potential for a more sophisticated and unified visual prose form for the 21st century, that captures and conveys narrative as an enhanced multi-linear reader experience.