Ulises in the UK

"Gossip, Scandal and Good Manners"

book/video/installation works by Ulises Carrion

12 June - 26 June 2010

The Showroom, 63 Penfold St, London (opening hours: Wed - Sat, 12 - 6pm)

Curated by the first year MA Curating Contemporary Art Students at the Royal College of Art in collaboration with Martha Hellion.


The Blue Notebook, Vol. 4 No. 2

The Blue Notebook: Journal for Artists' Books
Volume 4 No 2 April 2010

is now available here!

It includes essays and reviews that explore and examine the artist's books and is accompanied by conceptual artwork housed on its artists' pages.

It also includes a more thorough write-up of the ICA seminar the idea as book : the book as idea, which I briefly outlined here in July.


first day of spring

It's official.
British springtime is here.
I found it on my window ledge.

The Brownies' Book Set

Today I re-found my Brownies set of little books by Palmer Cox. The books include: The Brownies' ABC Book, The Brownies' You Can Count Book, The Brownies' Joke Book and The Brownies' Song and Dance Book. Many primary school hours were spent reciting jokes and
rhymes from these little pages.

The Properties of Paper

In my last two projects I've been working with all kinds of paper but I don't really know much about it, I mean about paper and its properties. So before embarking on the projects, I took some time out to get to know the page.

In both of my bookworks the materiality of the paper used plays a significant part in conveying the concept. The covers are either partly or fully made out of Rag Paper, which has a fabric-like quality. Rag Paper with a weight of 210 grams per square meter was chosen specifically for the front and back covers of Elmer’s One-Day Project. This is because of its strength, which makes for a sturdy cover and at the same time its malleability, which enables the cover to be embroidered with ease.

At 230 g/sm a heavier type of Rag Paper was used for the interior of the concertina, I PATCH, which not only holds up the folding-out structure but also achieves an interaction with the typewriter, for example, on close inspection Rag Paper, like fabric, has a woven quality and therefore a textured surface, a surface that is raised and dipped so that any text printed onto it undergoes ‘texturisation’ by either falling into the dips or sitting on the surface. Thus, the paper affects the outcome as it allows for the stamps of the typewriter to just kiss the surface rather than indent or engrave, the kiss sometimes leaves behind a bold letter and other times a fading outline. This points to the physicality of mark making and the bodily gestures made by the artist, again pointing to the concept of the book as a record of its own making.

The materiality of the page has been experimented further in Elmer’s One-Day Project with the inclusion of Lamali Paper, which consists of stencilled and painted prints. Therefore, unlike Rag Paper, the embossed patterns on Lamali provide a raised surface, which creates interesting results with the typewriter, as it cannot always mark these painted areas. On the other hand, Jari Paper and Nat Lokta Fibre, both at 25 grams per square meter, is semi-transparent as it is not made up of fabric but parts of cut-up thread pressed together. It is used in the same was as the plastic sheets of Hsia Yu's transparent poetry bookwork 'Pink Noise', to create a multi-layering of text. Its transparent quality means that any text typed on to the page is carried through to the page underneath. However, unlike printing onto plastic, the paper possesses its own texture and is further dented with the stamps of the typewriter.

I hope to start making my own paper soon.


Elmer's One-Day Project

Elmer’s One-Day Project is a 12 x 6 cm book consisting of 54 hand cut pages. It is a limited edition of 5. Each book is individually handmade and bound using Japanese Stab binding. The bookwork is made of offcuts of paper from previous projects, including the concertina I PATCH. The cover is made from Rag paper with embroidered text and a chain-stitch border. The text inside of the bookwork is typewritten. Elmer’s One-Day Project has been constructed to reveal the handmade and craft skills involved in its production.

I have used a variety of paper to sew or type through in order to present these materials performing together. They not only draw attention to themselves but also the process they have undergone. Consequently, they show “work” in performance. “Work” as in embroidering, binding, folding, ripping, patching and typewriting, where the holes, stitches and stamps of the typewriter possess a sense of immediacy, a sense of something being created and unique to a particular moment. I hope that each of these processes becomes a record of production.



are these two terms simply interchangeable?
I've been thinking some more about Japanese methods of bookbinding.

The use of Japanese Stab Binding enables the binding to be exposed on the surface of each bookwork. I've noticed that many artists’ books by Japanese artists draw upon craft based methods, specifically working with the concertina form or with binding that is intricate yet visible to the reader.

Often they combine both of these elements to create bound concertinas or accordion bookworks. This is where all the panels of a concertina or an accordion are bound along one side using a hand-stitched method. As a result the bookwork opens like a conventional book, however, the spine is the giveaway, as is each folded edge, clearly showing the signs of a closed and bound concertina - great stuff!



I PATCH is a one-off 14 x 14 cm concertina book made up of ten panels. Each panel consists of a typewritten text in the form of a square measuring 9 x 9 cm. The front and back covers are made of foam board covered with navy Japanese Washi Paper onto which is sewn sixteen hand-stitched squares. Inserted in between the foam board and Washi paper is wadding for a padded effect to create the illusion of a patchwork quilt. Each panel of the concertina consists of handmade paper joined together with a strip of paper measuring 1.5 cm in width. Each side of the strip is hand stitched to one side of two panels. This strip is the bind as well as the fold, which creates the extendable concertina structure. The book is packaged with a pink satin ribbon.

The form plays a part in conveying its concept, as the concertina form draws attention to the craft element of the bookwork through the use of hand stitching. This particular bookwork looks to tie in all elements of book form, which includes the physical form of the object and the form of its content. The squareness of the bookwork both outside and in is made to resemble the square patches of fabric to be found on a patchwork quilt. The title, I PATCH, is not only reflected in the patchworks of the front and back covers but also in the square patches of text within the bookwork. The text is laid out in the form of a square block of text, which visually marks a square patch. It is surrounded by a white border, which further draws attention to the squareness of the text and the object.

The exposed stitch work and binding, hand-cut panels and typewritten text are each a record of production. Stitching and binding are a record of the craft methods employed during the making of the book. The unevenness of hand-cut panels marks the process of production, as does the use of a manual typewriter. The typewriter is a particularly interesting instrument to use as it stains the page with not only letters but also accidental streaks from the ink ribbon. As a writing device it is successful in capturing all the elements of a production process, as mistakes cannot be erased and rewritten. As a manual device the markings are reliant on the artist using it; depending on the pressure placed on the typewriter keys, some letters will imprint the paper darker than others. Equally, each page is fed into the typewriter by hand which means that some words may appear out of line with others. Each of these aspects captures moments of making and to borrow Ulises CarriĆ³n’s term; the bookwork becomes ‘a sequence of moments’.

The content is a crisscrossing dialogue between the artist, the book and the reader. It is a dialogue that records the thought processes in those moments of production. Therefore, in the same way that the book form has been constructed as a record of a production, the content also documents aspects of this process. However, instead of a physical record, the text is a mental note that taps into the psyche of the artist at the time of production, to create a bookwork that captures these external and internal processes of making.
Until now there has been no activity on this blog - only there has been some activity, just not on blogger. During this time there's been some book making, amazingly just in time for the what-it's-september-already-i-need-more-time September deadline.