AMBruno Artists: John McDowall

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John McDowall

Books

My book works refer to and cross-reference with existing printed matter, and they reflect the influence of cinema and experimental writing and encompass the movement and connections between instances of these. In the work, subject and medium are combined, concept, material, structure and time are integrated; this is exemplified in an activation of the space from page to page, and from book to book - of reading and of return to the book.

Short films

Books are experienced in time and are an experience of time; engagement with the medium is materially interactive and elements such as pace, selection, review are open and available. The viewing of film does not usually have this interventional possibility and so entails a degree of anticipation and expectation. For my 101 film Of time: tremolo, 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.

John McDowall

I am visiting lecturer in printmaking and book arts at graduate and post-graduate level at establishments including the University of Leeds, Bradford College and Leeds College of Art & Design. I also lead workshops, which introduce, analyse and develop the practical, conceptual and contextual aspects of the medium of artists' books. I have curated several exhibitions of artists' books including Folded Journeys, Between Shelves and Present Text and am joint coordinator, with Chris Taylor, of PAGES, a programme of artists' book-focused initiatives; the project includes the annual International Contemporary Artists' Book Fair.

Of time: tremolo by John McDowall

John McDowall, Of time: tremolo (2011)
Video. 101 seconds.

For Of time: tremolo, 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.

Of time: tremolo by John McDowall

John McDowall
Of time: tremolo (2011)












Of time: ppp by John McDowall

John McDowall, Of time: ppp (2011)

Open edition. 8 pages.
Digital print. Sewn pamphlet.

On the second recto of the book a text printed in
very light grey - 'As pale as possible a blue'. The
first and third rectos, as all versos are blank. The
'as possible' in the text implies a direction, a 'to
have' and the softness of the alliteration and
subtleness of the colour resolution reflect the
notion. On the turn of the page to a clear space,
this resonance of a blue may be carried over and
quietly imagined.

Reflects by John McDowall

John McDowall, Reflects (2012)
Open edition. 4 pages. Digital print.
A one-fold book.

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.






Of unknown authors by John McDowall

John McDowall
Of unknown authors (2012)

In reference to 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. At the Surfaces: works on paper
exhibition these were presented in/on a very
narrowly spaced double shelf.


Of unknown authors by John McDowall

John McDowall
Of unknown authors (2012)

Open edition. 3 books of 20 pages each.
Inkjet print. Sewn pamphlets.











In-octavo by John McDowall

John McDowall, In-octavo (2013)
Open edition. 16 pages.
Inkjet print. Sewn signature.

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.

Atramentum by John McDowall

John McDowall, Atramentum (2012)

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
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.

Atramentum by John McDowall

John McDowall, Atramentum (2012)
Open edition. 144 pages.
Digital print. Perfect bound.










Atramentum by John McDowall

John McDowall, Atramentum (2012)

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









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