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Posts tagged "tom phillips"

Aug 08, 2013
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Tom Phillips’s A Humument at MASS MoCA

For the last 40 years British artist Tom Phillips has been working on A Humument, a series of collages based on A Human Document, the Victorian novel by W.H. Mallock. Phillips has altered the individual pages of the original book four times, each edition creating a new concrete text poem. For Life’s Work MASS MoCA will show Mallock’s unaltered book along with Phillips’ first edition of A Humument completed in 1973 as well as his most recent 5th edition completed in 2012. This amounts to a total of over 1,000 individual book pages.

From a terrific Boston Globe review:

Phillips has described “A Humument” (pronounced “Hew-mew-ment” and subtitled “A Treated Victorian Novel”) as “a kitchen table task.” It has been, he adds, in the afterword to the latest published version of the book, “almost entirely an evening employment at the end of a studio day.”

The notion that an artist’s life project, his crowning glory, should have been a sort of side project, something done in the margins, as it were, while he was busy getting on with the real thing (whatever that was) is to be savored.

This is amazing. Love the idea to display the original text alongside the treated pages. Need to figure out a way to get to North Adams before the New Year.

Feb 05, 2013
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Every page of both versions of A Humument has been done in a kitchen.

Sep 16, 2012
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I am usually collaborating with the interesting dead… Rilke or Cicero or Shakespeare or Dante or Conrad or Verdi… these are the living dead with whom we all work, and sometimes we have to knock quite loudly on the tomb to get them to play a part in living art.

Nov 16, 2010
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A Humument: the iPad App

Good interview with Tom Phillips about the app’s development, and his love for the iPad:

As soon as I got an iPad…my visual tongue was hanging out. I saw someone demonstrating something, showing off, and like Mr Toad when he saw the motor car went ‘poop-poop’ – I had to get one of these….It’s different things at different times, a serious research tool, or a communication device, but it’s a toy, I can play with it and find things I didn’t know existed…It’s also one of the oldest things in the world, as its called, a pad or a slate. This is a child’s slate like the one I had when I was five years old.

You can get the app (only for iPad) on iTunes.

A Humument: the iPad App

Good interview with Tom Phillips about the app’s development, and his love for the iPad:

As soon as I got an iPad…my visual tongue was hanging out. I saw someone demonstrating something, showing off, and like Mr Toad when he saw the motor car went ‘poop-poop’ – I had to get one of these….It’s different things at different times, a serious research tool, or a communication device, but it’s a toy, I can play with it and find things I didn’t know existed…It’s also one of the oldest things in the world, as its called, a pad or a slate. This is a child’s slate like the one I had when I was five years old.

You can get the app (only for iPad) on iTunes.

Mar 02, 2010
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Cover of THE SECRET AGENT by Coralie Bickford-Smith (via Creative Review - Penguin Classics team up with (RED) for typographic covers)Somebody’s been reading A Humument…I like it.
Cover of THE SECRET AGENT by Coralie Bickford-Smith (via Creative Review - Penguin Classics team up with (RED) for typographic covers)

Somebody’s been reading A Humument…I like it.

Oct 12, 2009
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Aug 04, 2008
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This work started out as idle play…

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The verbal elements that tell Toge’s story appear in blobular spaces that seem to blend the figure of the cartoon balloon with the banderole or the ribbony scroll that sometimes issued from the mouths of praying figures in 16th-century engravings. These spaces drip or trickle down the page where most of the time we can still see traces of Mallock’s original text, but occasionally they crawl amoebalike in muck and grow as germs do in laboratory jellies, or fly the way buffeted balloons might through a tempest, or float like used condoms on a wider river. Not infrequently, they seem like paths or roads or creeks. Many times they will be found to contain tender bursting buttons and other abrupt poems.

Feb 04, 2008
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Fragmentation—particularly of material appropriated from popular media—remained an arcane notion in both Whitefoord and Dabney’s eras alike, though the randomized literary cutups of Surrealist poets and Beat writers gave the idea new life in the mid–twentieth century. One of its most ambitious uses remains Tom Phillips’s A Humument, a self-described “treated novel.” In what amounts to a four-decade-long experiment in literary disintegration and re-creation, ever since 1966 Phillips has been taking W. H. Mallock’s 1892 romance novel A Human Document to pieces. Phillips found the original copy in a bookstall for threepence while out on a Sunday stroll, and took to vigorously fragmenting it by painting and drawing over most but not all of the page. What is left are just a few interconnected words to peep through in haunting fragments of newly created verse, like disembodied bits of dialogue through a squalling radio…. the “treated novel” technique was later adopted by Crispin Glover—yes, yes, that is correct—for his 1987 book Rat Catching, which he “treated” from H. C. Barkley’s 1891 opus Studies in the Art of Rat-Catching. The most recent experiment in this form is Jen Bervin’s charming Nets (2004), which rather than obliterating the original text of Shakespeare’s sonnets, submerges them in faint grey ink, with only selected words printed in black. Nets has the strange feel of verbal topography: the original sonnet text is a sort of plain that single, select words soar up from like jagged spires….From Whitefoord’s cross-readings through Nets, there’s always an animating force in a reconstructed work, and it’s one not inherited from the original materials. Like Frankenstein’s creation—conjured out of rotting flesh and galvanic batteries, but given extraordinary insight through a fortuitous encounter with a copy of Volney’s Ruins of Empires—it is possible for a re-created work to take on a life and meaning of its own, one much different from the mundane sources from which it was gathered.[1] These works are, if you will, a sort of FrankenLit.
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