Zweig’s and Drucker’s Criticisms

In this week’s past readings I have started to think more about the books we have seen and held in class. Although, their criticisms are valid in many ways their opinions are not seen in the books we have seen in Book Sets 5 & 6. In Book Set 5 we looked at Wordswordswords by Edwin Schlossberg with images created by Robert Raushenberg and Jasper Johns and in Book Set 6 we saw The WunderCabinet: the Curious Worlds of Barbara Hodgson & Claudia Cohen. These two books seem to not only refute Zweig’s and  Drucker’s critisims but also answer Drucker’s prerequisite questions about artwork.

Wordswordswords was an experience envisioned by Edwin Schlossberg. The book offers an interesting presentation – a cold, crisp metal slip box which conceals a unbound book of similar description. The actual book itself serves the reader by creating an experience – go through the pages to pull apart the story by literally changing the appearance of words through separating the many pages that hold the building blocks for the words but only appear to be random shapes.  By having the pages come together to form words, instead of just having them typed on a single page, allows the reader to feel as if their separating the pages is a form of deconstruction and investigation through the book. The project creates an inventive interplay between words and their material. The materials of the words serve as the carrier for the experience in a new way than in the traditional book.  Schlossberg’s word and page interplay forces the reader to slow their process and makes getting the meaning of the words more than just reading them.

The WunderCabinet: the Curious Worlds of Barbara Hodgson & Claudia Cohen engages the reader in a nearly overpowering way. The book itself offers a beautiful journal like collection of observations with hand-colored drawings and diagrams with the occasional 3D element. The bottom of the box offers a collection of miniature wonders ranging from various clock faces to shells. The box itself is also captivating with its inlaid wood design. The art serves to illustrate for the reader the larger aspect of the collection that would not fit in the box and also shows the illustrators view on the piece. The tactile objects allow the reader to understand the book by holding the physical inspiration for the writing. The combination of the two allows the viewer to imagine that they are holding the prized journal of a friend who is letting them touch their most prized treasures.  Having this sort of interaction with the book immediately establishes an intimate relationship with the text and objects. The materials serve to allow the reader the opportunity to look at the objects someone has honored in a new way – to people in the modern world a watch face is often over looked but seeing the book and then getting to remove the watch from its small, personal velvet compartment makes it seem like a new discovery.

Wordswordswords and The WunderCabinet are two modern Livres D’Artiste that exceed the requirements set forth in this past week’s criticisms. These two books also offer exquisite examples for what modern Livres D’Artiste should be.

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