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Re: What is art - ad absurdum

On Sun, 3 Sep 2000 21:50:27 -0400 Richard Minsky <minsky@MINSKY.COM>

> I
>curate a
>lot of exhibitions, judge competitions, decide who gets in or gets

While I admire and revere Richard, It is precisely this type of
"Power" in the Book Arts community which intimidates me.

Why can't we just make books (not to be confused with the
viced "bookie") for the sake of making them and making
them beautifully?  Why must we compete?  Judge or be
judged?  Surely some will excel far beyond the pale of the
ordinary, but shouldn't something be said for the well bound
simply covered (in buckram), with somewhat creative
lines and titling?

Anyone here seen the film, _The Tao of Steve_?
In the end the protag learns that guys named Steve and especially
Steve MacQueen didn't have all the answers, after all,
what matters is being true to self and as authentic
honest, ethical and moral as you possibly can be.
And we all must grapple with what it means to be "authentic."

Love will win in the end if only we try; inclusion is not
so much an illusion as it is a necessity, and the Book Arts
should be neither exclusive nor elitist in its effort to
invite new talent or to define what it means to bind (qua bind)
a series of signatures into a cohesive whole.

The rest of Richard's post was enlightening and displayed
a willingness on his part to learn from the words of others.
This I heartily agree with for a newer generation must always
replace the older ones, All I hope is that the up and coming
generation shares a belief in the underlying universal of
aesthetic and beauty, whatever or however you chose to define it.

Art qua Art is ultimately a subjective thing, I mean what some see
in a Jackson Pollack is still beyond my scope, while my love of Fragonard
and Gainsborough might to some, seem pedestrian if not all together
provincial.  Art and beauty, like defining porn is ultimately in the eye
the beholder.  I don't see the films in porn palaces as being artistic,
or particularly "beautiful" but someone who really cares about
such things might and hey, who am I to judge?  I mean, can't the
exploitation and usury of sex in the porn industry be likened unto
the plight in modern publishing where books are sloppily produced,
poorly edited and printed in droves all in pursuit of the almighty
dollar? (Sex, like Romance novels and Stephen King "sells")
 Dickens and other greats were initially serialized and hawked
as "penny chapbooks" as they were being written.  So the problems
"we" face in the present were solidly in place in the mid-19th, and have
always been problematic since the popularization of the press and the
increased literacy of the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

All of which leads me to conclude that publishing is in a conundrum,
in its rush to publish, market and rake in the revenue, but also
with attempting to satiate in some cursory way the need for "quality
Cite the move of some academic presses toward acid free paper and
"otabinding" soft bounds.  Some publishers DO care, but we tend to pay
for it, just like only the few who can afford bindings produced by the
leaders in this art and craft.  My contention:  bind for the masses!
Give average readers the same consideration as you would a Forbes
or a DuPont, I mean bind books, bind them in a simple and aesthetically
pleasing way, and save the art for those really special moments and tomes
which demand an exceptional binding.

For as complex as saying "keep it simple" may be, there must be something
said for just doing it for the sake (and aesthetic) of doing it.  Not the
mentality but also not the compulsion to make everything "a work of art."

>And I think it's important that people in this field who have to make
>kind of judgment call every day share their methodologies with each
>other. I
>have already read some fresh and interesting points of view, that made
>think about it.
>I don't know why some people are afraid of thought or criticism. That
>of view doesn't help us make any decisions. It adds to the mass of
>redundant, derivative, thoughtless, weak, self-indulgent work.
>For example, I was talking to a young curator/librarian at the Book
>Art fair
>at CCCCBPA. He was extolling the virtues of a young book artist who
>gluing pages together and creating "text" by shaving through the pages
>at an
>angle. I said, "Oh, like Buzz Spector did 20 years ago?" He answered.
>that." I didn't mention Dieter Roth or Michael Gibbs, but changed the

But perhaps an explanation might have been in order, I mean the point of
knowledge is to bring it to the ignorant, and this young-one was clearly
as am I all too often.

Baltimore, MD

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