How to do things with books

A workshop with Hannah Chiswell

The aim of this workshop is to consider how books might ‘do’ or perform things and to discern what sorts of things books might do? The workshop has two strands that run concurrently; firstly looking at how your current practice might be reconfigured for the page: to create an event on the page. How might (for instance) practices, ideas or collaborations actually take place on the page as opposed to simply being recorded or documented there? Secondly we will look at how a book might be disseminated via (for example) a performance, an installation a reading etc. How might the work be redistributed?

The title of the workshop refers to J.L. Austin’s ‘How to do things with words’ (1962), in which Austin sets out his ideas about performative utterances, or situations in which language actually does things as opposed to simply communicating facts. An example of this is speaking the words ‘I do’ at a wedding or declaring a building ‘open’. During the workshop you will attempt to think through practice in terms of how books might do things. Amongst other things we will be thinking of layout, typography, folding, construction and binding. Less materially we will be dealing with dissemination, distribution, transformation and appropriation. You will be working on the making of a bookwork during this workshop; you will also be invited to create an event from/with the resulting book. These events or books might then be housed within the Under Construction set in the SC gallery.

It is helpful if you have some materials to bring to the workshop e.g. images or texts relating to your work; you are also welcome to use material you have generated through the other Under Construction workshops. The workshop is open to all practices.

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