AMBruno Artists
John McDowall

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The subject and locus of my practice is the bibliographic, incorporating specific works of literature in an associative metatextuality that presents an activation of the space from book to book and from page to page. Artists' books are also a central research topic, and the focus of diverse curatorial and commissioning projects. I have recently completed a practice-based PhD, The time of reading: artists' books and self-reflexive practices in literature, at the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, University of Leeds. I am joint coordinator, with Chris Taylor, of PAGES, a programme of artists' book based initiatives, including the annual International Contemporary Artists' Book Fair.

Readings  - John McDowall

John McDowall - Readings (2020)

Readings is part of AMBruno's One and many pages project. On the first printed page, in a short text, I describe (or read) the photograph and the book it depicts - its leaning mass, the texture of the fore-edge and the passages formed by the slightly open covers. On each of the subsequent seven inward folding recto pages is the same piece of writing translated into Dutch, Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and three German versions, the following page carries the three dots of an ellipsis. The intimation is that the process of translation may be continued into a multitude of other languages, and that any translation is one of infinite possibilities of interpretation and variation - from one to many. The genesis of the book is in two images, in a formal association with Pieter Bruegel's The Tower of Babel, and from this to Albrecht Dürer's early woodcut title page illustration of St Jerome in his study.

Open edition, 10 single and double pages sewn stab binding under folded overlapped spine, letterpress and laser print on 115gsm and 175gsm Somerset Book White. 2020. £35

John McDowall, Bibliotheca universalis

John McDowall - Bibliotheca universalis (2017)

Bibliotheca universalis is part of AMBruno's Cover project. Views within a labyrinthine fine-paper store set out in an analogously convoluted binding structure. With allusive reference to the notional possibility of everything in a book and to all books contained in a single book, the cover is the book and the book the cover, a paper - library - book of indeterminate and infinite potential. Open edition. Inkjet printed, sewn triple-pamphlet.

John McDowall, Folio

John McDowall - Folio (2019)

Folio is part of BBruno's From this to there project. The phrases of written text in Folio appear to allude to the book's material form and to the turning of the pages, reflecting the words' own presence on the page and the movement of the reading of those pages. Two further lines refer to a site (a polar sea) beyond the book, and so with this shift there is a coming together of an awareness of the book in hand, and of another place - a coalescence of the aspect and the motion of paper, book, ship and waves. Open edition, sewn pamphlet of 12 pages plus cover, laser print on 120gsm Fabriano Ecological.

Ellipsis by John McDowall

John McDowall - Ellipsis (2016)

Ellipsis is part of AMBruno's [sic] collection. Here the elided majority of the words of Heinrich Böll's story Murke's Collected Silences do not form a lacuna in the place between end and beginning, but are notionally somewhere in the space of time outside of the book's cover as the text leads out, around and back. Open edition. Cloth-covered boards and laser printed endpapers.

Rubric by John McDowall

John McDowall - Rubric (2015)

Rubric is part of AMBruno's Red collection. The placing of the 'a', indefinite article and first letter of alphabet, in parenthesis simultaneously highlights and displaces it. There is a shifting ambiguity of assimilation between the signifier of colour and reflexively that of the act of reading in the present and, a homonym, in the past.

Escapade by Sophie Loss and John McDowall

Sophie Loss and John McDowall - Escapade (2016)

Escapade is part of AMBruno's words collection. François Rabelais enjoyed words, they romp along together with his larger than life characters, and in this little book these words of words veer off the allotted path, to the ends of their world of paper, and back.

Eclipse field  by John McDowall

John McDowall - Eclipse field (2014)

Eclipse field is part of AMBruno's Stills collection of limited edition prints. The still image, from Michelangelo Antonioni's film L'Eclisse, is made visible solely by means of the shadows cast by the relief of the intaglio impression revealed, as in cinema projection, by light. The film's sparsely occupied urban spaces reflect an erasure of affect, which is, at the end, reduced to a white field of absence. Blind-embossed from an acrylic plate.

A list of something in Herman Melville's 'Pierre: or,
The Ambiguities.' by  John McDowall

John McDowall -
A list of something in Herman Melville's 'Pierre:
or, The Ambiguities.'

A list of something in Herman Melville's 'Pierre: or, The Ambiguities.' is part of AMBruno's Lists etc. collection. At the time of its first publication Herman Melville's Pierre: or, The Ambiguities was scorned for what was perceived as the novel's dubious morals and its incoherent style and narrative, and its apparent self-contradictory satirical critiques of the genres and themes which it encompassed. Ambivalence was one of the book's many complex, and prescient themes. Open edition. Sewn pamphlet, digital printing.

Bruges-la-Morte by John McDowall

John McDowall -
Bruges-la-Morte (2013)

Bruges-la-Morte is part of AMBruno's I'm telling you stories. Trust me collection of limited edition prints. A story of deception and self-deception, in the novel Bruges-la-Morte by the Symbolist writer Georges Rodenbach, unacknowledged source of the book D'entre les morts by Boileau-Narcejac which was filmed by Alfred Hitchcock as Vertigo, and of water, time and photography. Archival inkjet print.

Trieste Zürich Paris - a liminal score by John McDowall

John McDowall -
Trieste Zürich Paris - a liminal score (2013)

Trieste Zürich Paris - a liminal score is part of AMBruno's Lines collection. Graphic notation presenting the complex of fragments visible as the book of a city street map is bent back slightly. Lines of print and lines of random strolling/reading from map to score to (re)performance; three cities in which James Joyce wrote Ulysses, walking/sounding another city. Digital print. Sewn pamphlet of 20 pages.

In-octavo by John McDowall

John McDowall - In-octavo (2013)

In-octavo is part of AMBruno's 16 collection. In France until the late 1960s new books were often sold uncut, with the publishers Les Éditions de Minuit continuing to issue their literature titles untrimmed until the 1980s. It was for the reader to separate the pages joined regularly by the folds at the head and fore-edge. I have one such untrimmed book, Dans le labyrinthe by Alain Robbe-Grillet. In-octavo reproduces parts of the text from the first 16 pages of Robbe-Grillet's novel. Only the words glimpsed, as if the pages of the uncut signature are teased open, are printed - with the rest of the page left blank. Open edition. 16 pages. Inkjet print. Sewn signature.

Atramentum by John McDowall

John McDowall - Atramentum (2012)

Atramentum is part of AMBruno's Black Circle collection. A materiality of language is made manifest by notionally pooling the ink of the printed text of Robert Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy. The percentage of page covered by the black print of the words is calculated as surface area and multiplied by the 1,382 pages of the book. This total quantity of ink is reproduced in the form of a single solid black circle (diameter of 180 cm), which is laid out as a sequential imposition in a new book of the same page dimensions as the published example consulted. Open edition. 144 pages. Digital print. Perfect bound.

atramentum - blacking, black juice, black lacquer, ink, varnish, writing ink

Reflects by John McDowall

John McDowall - Reflects (2012)

Reflects is part of AMBruno's One-Fold Books collection. The mechanisms of viewing and reading text and page are reflexively reiterated as fragments are notionally transferred from recto to preceding verso of a double spread. Open edition. 4 pages. Digital print. A one-fold book.

Of unknown authors by John McDowall

John McDowall - Of unknown authors (2012)

Of unknown authors were shown in AMBruno's Surfaces: works on paper exhibition in Porto, where they were presented in/on a very narrowly spaced double shelf. They reference nested/unreliable narratives, exemplified in the literary trope of hidden/discovered manuscripts, through the work of Fernando Pessoa and his extensive prose fragments and use of manifold heteronyms. Three small books containing reproductions of readers' hand written marginalia found in library copies of Pessoa's poetry are presented in/on a recessed shelf. Open edition. 3 books of 20 pages each. Inkjet print. Sewn pamphlets.

Of time: tremolo by John McDowall

John McDowall - Of time: tremolo (2011)

Of time: tremolo was shown in AMBruno's Project 101 video works in New York, 2011. A printed copy of the photograph (Immigrant children, Ellis Island, New York by Brown Brothers 1908) has been filmed for the 101 seconds duration of the piece. Any slight variation in the environmental natural light is barely perceptible. The movement that, in the present, is seen in the stillness of this moment from the past is also from that time, the trace as a blur of the young boy's turning head. Video. 101 seconds.

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