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Re: design printers

I think the tradition of "not signing" books by printers/bookmakers is a
heritage of a time when content was seen as primary, and the printer did not
create that content. Specifically, the letterpress literary book. In such
books it has usually (present & historically) been deemed appropriate that
the author should sign books, perhaps an illustrator if there is one, but
not the bookmaker. In my own work I seek to collaborate with literary texts
in any number of ways, but I still see what I do as involved with the
presentation of literature, and the people signing the book are the authors.
The border of these books and artist's books gets fuzzy in such books as
Individuals, which I printed and bound (with the help of some
interns/assistants), which presents poems by Lyn Hejinian and Kit Robinson
(two contemporary west coast poets) printed on cards which are pasted into
an accordion spine in a way which allows the book to fan out or circle
around or be held in the hands and pages turned more or less (most would say
less) like a conventional book. Still, even in a book like this, I prefer
the authors to sign, and I see my work as developing a vision which
collaborates with their work to make a whole greater than the sum of the
parts. I have nothing against signing, and if asked to sign a copy by
someone, I would do so (and have done so). But signing is not something I
seek to do or care about. I don't think this has to do with lack of ego. If
anything, my ego thinks my signature is the work itself and that it is quite
recognizably "mine." Signing makes more of a fetish of the thing, perhaps,
although I'm not so certain about this. Still, the books stand on their own,
and the personality behind them seems less necessary of being on display.

Still, I think this heritage of literary bookmaking is something with no
necessary relation to most productions of artist's books today, and I say
let artists sign their books as they will, but don't make them if they don't
want to.

charles alexander

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