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In the digital age, love your stationery obsession

Urszula Dawkins, Durational Book

Durational Book Durational Book
photo Urszula Dawkins
Pianola rolls, a vintage portable typewriter, scissors, paper, sticky tape and a mysterious pile of metal file fasteners share the studio table with Macbooks, iPads and a slightly forlorn-looking wireless mouse, apparently un-paired. I’ve managed to track down the Durational Book project – at the State Library of NSW during the week, but relocating on Friday to UTS’s Page Screen studio in Ultimo. Three of the project’s six artists – Zoe Sadokierski, Astrid Lorange and Tom Fethers – are busy and ‘at play’, exploring the possibilities for convergence between text and graphics, digital and sculptural forms. It’s a sort of ‘Twitter meets the book arts’– a sensual juxtaposition of hi- and lo-fi media – and what’s most obvious to me as I walk in is the instant pull: the desire to touch, handle and, I’ll admit it, have, the work that’s spread around the room.

Durational Book is the first iteration of an ongoing project across various art forms: Tom’s and Zoe’s backgrounds are in graphic design, Astrid is a poet and writer, and absent collaborators Megan Heyward, Chris Caines and Jacquie Kasunic work across writing, video art, photography and research. Zoe describes the group’s shared interest in “books and bookishness and e-books and digital publications as well as print books”. Astrid calls the project an experiment with “books as objects that are not singular and not singularly material”. The results are poetic fragments distilled in physical form: words, phrases and sentences honoured like the digital world’s ancestors in exquisitely designed and carefully assembled pieces. Yes, I want to take them all home. Or failing that, to head to Officeworks to get my own gluestick and cutting board (at the same time miraculously gaining a graphic design degree, of course, and the collective imaginations of these six people).

Here are a few of the pieces they’ve created this week:
Durational Book Durational Book
photo Urszula Dawkins

Astrid: “I’ve just finished typing up this long scroll of fairly shoddily typewritten tweets… We’ve been contributing tweets throughout the duration of the project – some people have just been documenting the various things that they’ve been doing, and then my contribution to the project has been tweets solely… So we’ve basically got the entire archive of the week’s worth of tweets in chronological order here…with lots of added, accidental mistakes. Tom has been working from the tweets and producing posters from them.”

Durational Book Durational Book
photo Urszula Dawkins
Tom: “I produced this on Monday, which was the first working day, and Astrid had actually written about 400 tweets in that time, so I just chose the ones that resonated with me most. And I really liked her tweet ‘and so sentences broadly are time-based judgments’. So it was just a way of trying to typographically let the language speak and also bring in an element of design and composition – a quite classical kind I suppose… [This week I’m] setting myself many briefs – just exploring different aesthetic options…and then once it’s finished I think we’ll go in and see which ones we can print out and refine a bit more.

Durational Book Durational Book
photo Urszula Dawkins
Zoe: I took a script that Chris wrote – a script that’s part of a video work where the text turns up almost like captions – and cut it up and threaded it through the pianola roll. Because what he can do with the text on screen is actually pace how quickly or slowly you’re able to read this conversation that happens, and I was trying to pace it in the pianola roll. There’s also sections of image inbetween…found objects, they’re from the bookmarks that they have at the State Library – so that’s me trying to pace the reading experience as he paces the viewing experinece in video.

More works in the Durational Book project can be found online:

Durational Book, Chris Caines, Tom Fethers, Megan Heyward, Jacquie Kasunic, Astrid Lorange, Zoe Sadokierski, State Library of New South Wales, 10–15 June;

This article first appeared on the ISEA2013 in RealTime blog

RealTime issue #0 pg. webb

© Urszula Dawkins; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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