Monday, August 8, 2011

By the Book

Seeing Through Feeling (2011) by Andrew Uchin

I'm an avid reader, but I'm not big on books. I'm talking about the physical chunk of papers with ink patterns printed upon them. For most of my life, I've had to endure the presence of these dead tree constructions to get at that which I totally adore, the information conveyed on their printed pages. If you ask me to list some interesting novels, or histories, or philosophical texts, I could go on and on with recommendations. If you ask me to list my favorite book, I can answer that immediately. It's the one that most recently left my shelves.

Yeah, that's heresy for most of you book people, but I have a thing against clutter. Book in use are great, but books laying around are fire hazards and vermin hideaways. I haytz 'em!!!

Yet, I can see how people can fall in love with the physical object. Andrew Uchin's exhibit "The Reader Series" at dnj Gallery captures the romance of the bibliophile. These photos convey the human interaction with the book, through markings, deterioration, or the design of the text upon the page. There is a rich history to these books. Perhaps they were beloved sources of tales for the children. Perhaps they were veterans of the library shelves. Or perhaps, like a courier's steed, they carried the reader across the survey of Elizabethan literature.

Modern Library (2011) by Andrew Uchin

These weird inanimate objects that have a special ability to talk to those who can understand, they have poignant tales to tell. And it is not merely that which is printed upon their pages.

I've been uncertain about writing about this show. Obviously, I adore it. I constantly find something new and engaging to these photos. But they really don't translate well as low grade images in a blog post. When viewed in person, you can really get the rich subtleties of the image. For instance:

Art and Anarchy (2011) by Andrew Uchin

This photo is totally cool in person, but unimpressive in this reproduction. The way in which the text is vaguely perceptible through the whiteness of the page makes for a playfully transgressive expression. It is indeed an anarchic disregard of the rules when text printed upon one page intrudes upon the blank page behind it. ;-)

But I find myself so charmed by these images that I had to write this post. In fact, Andrew Uchin's work has actually inspired me to take photos of books at my local libraries. So far, I've got nothing worth sharing, but it has certainly got me looking at books in a new way. And for that, he and the wonderful folks at dnj Gallery have my deepest thanks.

As regards those who love books, this is a fun clip.

In any case, I highly recommend this show.


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