artist's book, Book Reviews, Conferences

Report from the Hybrid Book Fair

I’ve just finished my first day at the Hybrid Book Conference and Book Fair (hosted by the University of the Arts in Philadelphia) and so far it has been filled with interesting panels/presentations and a great book fair.  Since I’m reviewing the conference for CAA Reviews, I’ll hold off on my comments about the program and concentrate here on some of the compelling books I saw for sale at the fair.  The fair has more than 70 vendors and takes up two floors so I haven’t yet begun to make my way all the way through, but already I’ve discovered works and artists that I’m delighted to know about.

Margot Lovejoy’s The Book of Plagues is not a new work, but she was featuring it because it was printed here at the Borowsky Center.  The book is a montage of imagery and information about plagues – from the 1300s to the present day.  Mixing microscopic images of the AIDS virus with woodcuts of plague doctors in their beaked masks, the book unfolds in a complicated two-way structure.  A second book, Paradoxic Mutations, long and skinny and with an equally complicated strucutre, was something she made at the same time using the parts of the sheet of paper that were unused for the plague book.

In Cahoots Press

Macy Chadwick’s In Cahoots Press had some interesting new works.  Despite the differences in topics in her books  – everything from geometry to string alphabets for the blind,  there is a visually cohesive vocabulary that runs through her work.   Chadwick’s book, The Topography of Home, was one of the award winners at the show (it is the one pictured in the bottom left of the picture).

Half Life/Full Life

Perhaps Chip Schilling’s Half Life/Full Life especially intrigued me, because I’ve actually seen the Doomsday clock (it being housed on the Univ of Chicago campus in the offices of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists), but it really is of interest to all of us who have lived through the political ups and downs that have caused its movement over the past six decades.  The book opens up into a freestanding circular structure, each opening of which includes an event that has precipitated the movement of the clock’s hands – from the fall of the Berlin Wall that set it 17 minutes away from midnight, to the thermonuclear device testing in the 50s that brought it as close as one minute to midnight.  To add some perspective, Schilling has paired these momentous events, with  popular culture going on at the time—top movies, songs, etc.—revealing the human ability to continue living in the face of near crisis, or the human inability to grapple with serious issues, depending on your perspective.

I also had an interesting conversation with Thomas Parker Williams who is mixing his own inks using transparent base and pigments from Kremer.   He was showing me the effects of differnt ratios of pigment to base and seeing as this is something I’ve been thinking about doing for some time, it was quite inspiring.