Sunday, 24 March 2013

Clod

Yesterday, through driving snow and toe-biting cold, a noble representative of Clod appeared unperturbed at our shop's door, carrying with him 5 copies of the latest issue of this humble gazette.

The unassuming citadel of Luton's answer to, well, everything else that exists in our damp, grey, offensively un-Spring-like universe.

This is issue number twenty four. When he told me, upon my asking, that the zine has been running for 25 years, I naturally assumed it was an annual thing 'Yes - well no, we had a 10 year break.' he replied.

To give you a flavour of the contents - which at their most topical provide a Clodian take on the Horse meat scandal (only one month since it arose, as close as the book shop will ever get to being a source of breaking news!) - we have the Clodian take on Country versus Town living, keeping the mystery alive in a long-term relationship, and the next instalment in an ongoing list of 100 things to do before you die which includes moving a wardrobe upstairs and eating a dessert spoon full of salt.

Just as Willow's The Flood is the archetype artist's book, Clod is the archetype Zine. Lo-fi, cut and pasted, cheaply printed, cheaply sold and packing a counter-cultural wallop. It is also defiantly unpretentious and made me laugh out loud at least a half a dozen times.

Look out for their upcoming silver anniversary edition with a highly unusual cover that as Artist's Books Correspondent only I and perhaps their next of kin are privy too. Sorry, Scout's Honour.

Clod Issue 24 costs one guinea or £1.05 whichever you have to hand, and is available in the Bookartbookshop now.

- Jon Lander

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

The Flood

What is an artist's book? It's a question that is often asked in our shop, and not an easy one to answer. I usually say it is where the whole book is a work of art.

The Flood by Elizabeth Willow is the perfect example for this particular definition of an Artist's book. Without the particulars of its construction the words within would lose so much of their meaning and depth and excitement. The booklet contains a single sentence spread across 12 little pages.

The water

began to

come in

under the door

and it came in

more and

more until

it reached

so high

there was

no more air




only water.

Printed on tracing paper, each beat of the sentence rises by increments as one turns the pages, a steady pool of blue ink rises with the words, and by virtue of the translucent paper, gets thicker and thicker with colour, until with the penultimate line 'no more air' we find the words struggling to breathe at the top of page with the flood of blue paper pushing up from below.

On the last page the words 'only water' have sunk to the bottom of a completely blue page.

In this very witty and tender artist's book even the thread that binds the booklet has been thought about: it is transparent like water.

The Flood costs a criminally cheap £6 and is available in the Bookartbookshop along with other equally fabulous titles by Willow such as the sister publication 'In the Event of Flooding', 'Making Time' and 'Sky Blue and Lightning'.

- Jon Lander



Monday, 11 March 2013

LR

Enigmatic. Fragile. Subtle. Frustrating. Sensual. Mundane. All these words describe the work of Yasushi Cho.

Yasushi Cho also goes under the publishing name Laughter, which I initially thought was the title of this book, perhaps latching onto something less abstract than the simple two lettered 'LR'. This is a mistake all the more because LR is a very abstract book.

It references the visual and tactile elements of everyday electronic appliances. it has real red white and black connectors that can click in and out of sockets all connected by the thinnest of black thread, these threads then connect and are in fact physically bound to tiny abstract glossy booklets that are slotted inside the outer black case.

DVD Players, Hi-definition televisions, Hi-fis, Speakers: Sleek black forms that slide in and out of each other at the touch of a velvety button. It could be any of these, but it is none and all of them. It is the modern home gadget distilled to its meaningless essence. It is the desirable perfect black glossy box, mystifying and magical.

These devices we covet can also exasperate us. When they simply refuse to work, to bend to our will, to swoon to our caress. LR provides the ultimate archetype of this feeling: you can tinker and fiddle with it but never quite get it to 'work' or to 'do' what one thinks a book should. And whilst one plays with all these elements (very very carefully for this is an incredibly delicate construction) trying to doggedly discover its function as a book, the frustration turns to joy upon the realisation that it is all so pointless. There isn't really much difference between this 'pointless' artist' book and the new smart phone that I received yesterday in the post and have been all day tinkering and poking with carnal delight alongside Yasushi Cho's LR.

LR by Yasushi Cho is in a limited edition of 45 copies and costs £22. It is available in the Bookartbookshop now.

- Jon Lander

Monday, 4 March 2013

Sea & Sea

The very cool, current collective Calm & Collected have launched a very cool, current coveted publication entitled Sea & Sea. It is a hectic show case of graphic illustrative work by C&C plus guest artists, all tied together by a maritime theme.

Calm & Collected are a collection of anonymous artists who have banded together under the united banner to release art, books, prints, exhibitions and doubtless more besides.

Sea & Sea deploys a menagerie of lush printmaking techniques - letterpress, screen print and risograph. It is like a graffitied wall in the form of a book, with each artist riffing off each other and trying to out do the next. Nautical messages fill the pages in bold bubble writing. Boats, fish and salty sea dogs are generously depicted throughout.

This must be as high energy as an artists' book can come, rifling through its pages feels a little like turning up at a house party sober, its loud and bright and you can't hear yourself think - the only answer is to down some grog and let the current take you away...Is that a mixed metaphor? Lets say its a boat party.

Sea & Sea by Calm & Collected costs £30 and is in a limited edition of 35 copies. It is available in the Bookartbookshop now

www.wearecalmandcollected.com

- Jon Lander