Long and boring bla ahead, sorry. If you like, skip the artsy fartsy stuff & go to the music at the end of this post. It is not that much uplifting.
The ever venerable Dianhmow posted about a kind of contest here, gently providing a link to the winners here. Here is the link to a pdf showing all entries / finalists of the “2016 LIBRIS AWARDS”.
Dinahmow had photographed one of the entries – please see it at the bottom of her blog post. It is described as “Winner of the Regional Artists’ Award. May-Britt Mosshammer. “Tapping the Knowledge.” Books, bronze, paper”. I steal the pic and put it next – wait a minute …
… here we are. “Tapping the Knowledge”.
And there it drips. Or flows. Or whatever.
For me – do I have to declare that here on my blog I talk about meself only (btw I know that it’s the wrong form, I stole it from Søren Knudsen) – books are tools. Books are a lot of things to a lot of people, even for those who do not read. They are means of escape, they are respected as holy, persecuted as and understood as dangers to faith, virginity, public order … a text, written or printed, distributed in a bound form, hence transportable and most of all reproducable can be seen as dangerous, as revelation, as simple means for “fun” and “recreation”, as transport for knowledge (what ever this may be) … it is a book.
I grew up with books, and some dogs, but at some point the dogs had to go and the books stayed. Reading was in the household of my parents a normal activity, regardless whether it was the newspaper, a more or less funny novel for distraction or a historical text, regardless of the latter’s quality. My parents were not historians. Education, what translates in visiting a “good” school, was seen as the means to better the situation in general, and reading was apart of it, of the job. My education was very good, I went to a traditional humanistic German Gymnasium, and of course we were reading, well, books. History was (my) the main topic (I was fortunately in one of the early years that could pick out their individual topics – if I had to do the last examination (Abitur) in something like chemistry I would have ruined all of my grades, so it was Latin and history and I survived) and our teacher (all of them, but especially the last) was very good. In fact when I went to university and attended the first obligatory “Einführungsseminar” / introductionary seminar I thought I was in 12th grade again.
Reading books was always essential. Using a real library at a university, where you could have texts at your hand within some hours, where you could see images with a short delay – and this was all before the digitalisation and the web – was a great experience that in this form will never come back. Best was – in the eighties – that you could even have originals sent from Munich or the HAB (a place I still today, despite my anger over the scientific business & all, would crawl on my legs & arms to to have a job in the depot) within days : You actually had’em in your hands !
And of course the magazines. They held a lot of printed stuff you never knew existed until you found it in a catalogue, or somewhere cited. All this was done by grey sheets of terrible printed paper that you filled out, either by hand or with a type writer – and all this became better and better with the digitalisation : Nowadays you can read stuff at a workstation within the campus that was unreachable twenty years ago. (There is a large danger to it too, but I am not willing to talk about this now.)
The book as it is, is first of all a tool for me. Then it is also an object – I do not want to say of desire. There are no books I really wanted to possess simply because they are books. But there are objects that come in the form of a book that I very much like – because of the paper, the binding, the typography. A car can bring you from place A to place B. It can be a Dacia 1.5 Diesel, it can be a … Dodge Charger SRT – no I do not want to digress on cars, the Dodge has to be enough. Paper alone is such a large and rich field – in the region is a papermill, and the man (whom I know of course) makes some very fine examples of paper for different uses ; printing – oh my ! – ; binding – there is so much nonsense that can be done in this respect – and who ever invented the glue-thing shall rot in hell eternally ! And I will not start about typography – I keep venerating some housegods like TSCHICHOLD, and that is enough.
A friend is an acknowledged artist, one of her techniques is printing, I stand in awe about the possibilities – and I dare to say sometimes that I do not like the outcome. But this is a very rare thing to occur, and I basically know what to do different. (And we once were invited to take part in one of her œvres, so I reclaim something of a “Vorschuss” !)
My taste is conservative regarding typography – I f.e. always try to use something that is Garamond-related as font – I know that one of my most favourite readers (‘a friend’) does not like this type of font family, but I am sorry, can’t without.
Much bla about nothing so far. Terrible introspection into an empty stomach, perhaps filled with hot air only. Ein Windbeutel.
So what about this object up there ?
Frankly, I … do not like it.
And, as already said in a comment on Dinahmow’s blog, I am not really sure about the “why”.
What do you have on tap – is a question one expects in a tavern. I have a problem with “knowledge” in general, as differenced from information. There are texts in the form of a book, like “Der Schattenfotograf” by Wolfdietrich Schnurre that in my humble opinion keeps a lot of insight and meaning – but that can not be “tapped”. There is a lot of knowledge, imho wisdom even, in this text (and this man), but there is nothing to be tapped – for all and everyone. There is nothing that runs out when you turn the spigot. There is no spigot. Even to the Bible or the Koran no spigot is attached.
Books create books, it can be a bit of an inbred, especially in historical matters. What runs out of the spigot depends always and only on the one who turns it.
Perhaps my idea of “art” is terribly outdated – I do not know. All I know is that Art is what one sees as Art. This thing above in my eyes is a joke, it is in my humble opinion a first involvement with the idea of the book and its history, given my education and more or less “intellectual” background”. This is a thing that is okay in the first-year-seminar. It is a joke, a light shot from the hip, more or less funny, but I would not give it an award. Yes, of course, it is just me, and my “idea” of what a book is and can be.
It is half-done. Put something under the spigot, like a bucket and fill it with something you like : A mirror (ach ja, die Selbsterkenntnis, good old self-awareness), a piece of crap if you like, overflowing shredded paper, or a flower – I am not the artist, and of course it is absolutely arrogant from me to judge this thing, but I am allowed and free to say what it causes in me. The initial anger is gone, but I do not take this thing serious, and I would not have given it an award.
Vanitas vanitatum – here’s the soundtrack :