This paper will explore the visual medium of the “artist’s page,” in which a photographic-based artist assumes full control of the page design, and the potential of these works for a politics of critique. Some of the artists considered will be Melinda Mollineaux, Lori Blondeau, Allyson Clay, and Jin-Me Yoon.
Focussing on artist’s pages
designed specifically for presentation in academic and non-academic journals,
the paper will explore:
On the inside, printed books tend to look different from their manuscript predecessors. Generally, printed pages are smaller, plainer, simpler, and more regular, using fewer kinds of lettering, fewer columns and blocks, less colour and ornament. The distinctive form of the printed page did not emerge immediately, however, with the invention of printing. Until the early or mid-sixteenth centurey, competing models of page design remained current, among them varieties that attempted to rival manuscript pages in complexity.
The work of Nicholas Jenson, one of the printed book’s most pre-eminent early fabricators, shows why the printed book came to look as it does on the inside. The story of Jenson’s brief, ten-year career in printing, 1470-1480, is the story of his labours with the materials and the traditions that shaped the printed book in its early history. The printed book came out as it did - at Jenson’s hands, as at others’ - in part because of the traditions of commercial exchange, manuscript manufacture, and humanist cultural activity that supplied the social context. More consequent, however, were the properties of the materials with which the early printers worked: presses and the attendant furniture, wet paper that hardened as it dried, and metal type.
This paper contracts the complet legal printing that Jenson did later in his career with the simpler, lapiday classical printing that he did at first. Making saleable printed law books, like church-service books, was difficult technically because it was unnatural. A tradition of law-book making had grown up in the Middle Ages, over centuries of manuscript culture, and it stipulated that law-books had to be laid out in a particular way on the inside. This stipulation, however, that had grown up in one sort of material culture, imposed hardships on printers - technical problems that were all but insurmountable - when the material culture changed. What Jenson was able to do eventually, at the end of his career, was make a manuscript-like page by strictly typographic means - doing with type, an unyielding tool, what had been possible to do before only by the warm, supple means of a pen in hand.
With his late law books, Jenson made good his claim to be the Daedalus of printing, making type and spacing do things they are not by nature suited to do. What these materials are suited to do, on the other hand, is what Jenson did with them in 1470. At the very beginning of his career: print - classics and early Church fathers, as it happens - using types and layouts based on epigraphic rather than manuscript models. The long-standing disciplinary distinctions between epigraphy and calligraphy, and between sculpture and painting, reflect real material differences - between the superficial acticity of laying liquid matter over surfaces, on the one hand, and the deep work of cutting into surfaces, on the other. Manuscript-making belongs with painting and calligraphy. Printing belongs with sculpture and epigraphy. The quality of Jenson’s early accomplishment derives from recognition of this material condition.
Eventually, it proved possible
for a person as skilled as Jenson to make manscript-like printed books.
Demonstrably, it was not easy for him to do so. What Jenson could do from
the start, what he did best, and what has been his (and his generation’s)
enduring legacy, was pages that looked like monuments inscribed in stone.
Local conditions - humanism and other peculiarities of the local market
- had their effects. In the final analysis, however, the printed page looks
like a stone funerary monument because of the nature of the materials used
to make it.
One of my first revelations regarding the significance of the page occurred years ago while reading through a collection of folkloric tales. The story of two “chasquis” (Quechuan messengers) given the task of delivering the gift of two watermelons and a letter to a Spanish Lord, decide after many hours of running and thirst, to eat one of the watermelons. Reasoning that the Spaniard would have no way of knowing that they had started out with two, the Chasquis were surprised when the Spaniard, holding the page of the letter in the air, demanded the second watermelon. The chasquis, panic-stricken, ran off believing the paper to contain magical powers.
The structure of the page has always reflected the structure of the reasoning of a given time, from Gothic to Kantian to modernist to electronic. Each evolution in textual form entails a fundamentally new way of reading, perpetually replacing older forms with newer and faster ones. The replacement of photomechanical technologies by electronic processes has created a profound transformation in the field of human interaction which is now in the process of redefining itself. A rift exists in the fact that we are living (embodying) these electronic technologies and modes of imparting and receiving information (www) but are still defining ourselves within the parameters of the Enlightenment and the mechanical age. A new definition of the page, not reflected in the traditional physical page is needed.
New textual forms defined
by strings of characters, sound, motion, and interactivity are no longer
linear but multi-dimensional. The incredible development of virtual spaces
and user interface are collapsing the boundaries of print media. The implications
that this process is having on contemporary constructions of the page and
design are some of the concerns I would like to investigate in this paper.
For a novel built as much as it is on speech — conversation, inner monologue, narration as talk — James Joyce’s Ulysses is predicated on its existence as a printed text. Many of its details are meant to be seen as well as heard, and, in some cases (such as the newspaper headline “? ? ?” in the “Aeolus” episode of the musical notations in “Scylla and Charybdis” and “Ithaca”), they cannot be spoken. As the book began to be set in type, Joyce responded to the proofs not just by correcting errors and adding details but also by rethinking his work in terms of the printed pages he was reviewing. When, after seeing the first proofs for “Aeolus,” he added all the newspaper headlines, he was revising the way each bit of text would look on the page — revising, that is, in terms of the book’s pages. Jerome McGann has cited William Morris’s statement that “you can’t have art without resistance in the materials,” and as Joyce became deeply aware of the possibilities and limitations of the printed page as a unit, he both worked with the page and pushed it beyond those limits.
Ulysses is now often described as a precursor of hypertext (the computer-based method of presenting material that connects its screens via links and that allows users to move among the screens in different ways) or as a hypertext before its time. Its method of connecting details associatively, as well as its structure, which lets readers move through its details in many different ways, make it seem quite similar to electronic hypertext as that has evolved in the last ten years. But easy identifications between Ulysses and hypertext ignore the crucial differences between the media Ulysses's print and pages, hypertext's pixels and screens. Ulysses is in many ways analogous to hypertext, but analogy is not identification. What happens, then, when Ulysses is presented as the centre of a hypertext structure, as is happening in the project I am currently directing? Its details can be linked to annotations, identifications, and analyses in ways that allow and encourage exploration at different levels, and probably, as George Landow has argued, a work such as Ulysses that has "conventionally been considered complete . . . would immediately become 'incomplete'" in a hypertext structure. But what about Ulysses itself? Its text, its words and other typographic symbols will remain unchanged, but its bibliographical elements, including its pages, will be drastically altered. Even if the page units from a print version are retained in the electronic presentation, the page becomes a self–consciously defined unit in a medium that is not organized in ways that give it meaning, but, more likely, the page units will disappear, to be replaced by screen units. What will this new presentation mean for the page–bound and page–defying Ulysses? My talk will explore the issues and some possibilities.
This paper will address the notion of the writing space as a definer of content from its early form in the scroll or tablet to its redefinition within the frame of a written page, printed page, and computer screen. It will attempt to locate the moment when writers become conscious of the page as a structure or physical barrier shaping their work. Laurence Sterne’s use of an all-black page in Tristam Shandy (1767) is one example of this phenomenon.
The main unresolved tension in critical art histories is found in the wholesale transference of the tools of literary theory into the practice of visual analysis without a corresponding translation. For example, the implications of the textuality of authorship as developed by Foucault and Barthes have often been extended to the role of the artists without a concurrent analysis of whether the “artist” can be conceived as having the same rhetorical valence as “author.” The result of this leap is that the art work becomes “textualised,” which can be extremely useful in distancing the practice of art history from antiquarianism and connoisseurship. Nevertheless, the radically different function of materiality in visual work and literary text is elided by this leap, masking the ambiguity of the visual work.
In order to address this issue obliquely, I will turn some concerns which are part of the tradition of art history towards the textual page by considering the practice of editing as a process which mimics conservation practices — for example, the editor will (if at all possible) not cross out a misplaced word but rather indicate with a well-developed system of markings where the errant word should be placed. Through this discussion, I want to suggest that a concern for the materiality of the written page could be a vehicle for clarifying the application of literary theory to visual objects.
Arguably, the most remarkably comprehensive archival projects in medical history are the transcription of the human body through the Visible Human Project and the Human Genome Project, both stored as digital text in the National Library of Medicine at the National Institute of Health in Maryland, US. What does it mean to see our bodies as page - the textual maps of cellular structure potentially as copyrighted databases, instruction sets for patented products? Both Jean Baudrillard and Arthur Kroker have commented on this digitization, fragmentation and abstraction of the human body as a negative sign of the postmodern condition: both see in the hyperreal or the simulacra a loss of morality, spirituality, even humanity.
A common theme in much of
recent theory and fition exploring electronic texts is this conceptual
linking of the material housing of the text to the material housing of
the soul / intellect: the death of the book parallels the redundancy of
the body (see Gibson 1984; Haraway 1991; Heim 1993; Kroker and Weinstein
1994; Kroker and Weinstein 1996). As the page becomes immaterial, so is
the body depicted as immaterial, the soul perilously flickering in a state
Printed marginalia (sidenotes) in early modern books are the work of authors and printers hell-bent on managing readers—telling us what to believe, what to remember, what else to read. By suppressing these marginal voices, as most modern editions do, we eradicate the most distinctive feature of the early page and willfully ignore the fullest stage directions we have for the performance of reading in the first two centuries of mass produced books.
The margins were elaborately theorized in early books through a revealing series of metaphors: annotations are blemishes and buttresses, crutches and lamps, maps and boundary patrols. More recently, for Gérard Genette they are thresholds of textuality, and for Jacques Derrida they are not marginal at all but central. A fuller understanding of this distinctive feature of the early modern page can provide a healthy corrective to our mistaken notions of how texts were produced, transmitted, and consumed in the period. The margins constituted an important site of textual disruption and can provide an instructive historical basis for experiments with the page in our own time. In the earlier period as now, narrative and syntactic continuities were most thoroughly broken down at the margins of the text. Printed marginalia are as much a testimony to the survival of orality as to the ascendancy of literacy.
After proposing a model
for an electronic edition of Shakespeare’s sonnets that is multi-centered,
loose margined, and copiously illustrated, the paper concludes that this
effort is likely to produce only a very elaborate teaching aid, one that
offers very few advantages over the well annotated texts of the early seventeenth
century. Such a conclusion may be surprising, but it need not necessarily
Through references to 'pages' in three different media - Harry Mathews's novel, The Journalist, Stephanie Strickland's hypertext poem, "True North," and Anne Burdick's hypertext graphic art for The Electronic Book Review - this paper will attempt to specify what it is that changes, fundamentally, when we move from print to hypertext reading. In hypertext we are given a multiplicity of sources and texts for browsing, so that image and narrative, the verbal and the visual, all exist on the same plane; even the near and the far, as Strickland has written, are "equally present, and equally speedily present." Where a book can only refer to the texts and images that it cites, directing readers toward a plane of meaning that is not identical with the plane of the printed page, a web page can, in theory, actually present its electronic citations directly, through the clickable link that brings the environment into the screen space. The outside is thus ready at any moment to become the inside, and this permeability - more than the actuality of any particular link or set of links - seems to me to be definitive of reading in electronic environments.
Narrative in each case - print, hypertext, animated graphic image file - is imagined as a journey, but the journey through electronic environments does not lead toward some future fulfillment at a predetermined endpoint; rather, once enough materials have been assembled on the screen or within the writing space and a direction through them or relationship among them has been established, meaning can then be reconstructed along multiple pathways by which readers may return. Reflective print readers have of course always worked with texts this way; indeed, the flipping of pages remains unsurpassed as a Random Access Data (RAD) technology. However, by expanding this process to all available images, sounds, and texts, hypertext technologies greatly expand and reinforce this distinctively cognitive approach to reading.