Reflection on Digestion 2012
Photo polymer relief printed on 410gsm somerset satin paper with calf skin and gold hotfoil
50 x 45 x 900 cm
Edition of 3
Photography: Amanda Couch and Helena G Anderson, in situ at the English Faculty Library, 4 - 24 October, as a part of Text and Context Cambridge.
Produced with funds from University for the Creative Arts Research Award through the bookRoom Research Cluster.
Reflection on Digestion brings together research, writing, performance, and bookmaking: A fair calfskin leather-bound tome with nine metres of concertina pages.
The scribed text stems from a body of knowledge encountered whilst on a post-graduate course in education. Writing, knowledge and the body are explored, and the metaphors of reflection and digestion consider process, processing, and ways of knowing and becoming. ‘Digestion’ stems from the word ‘digest’, which can both refer to an arrangement of written work; and to the processing or making sense of knowledge and experience, as well as to break down and absorb food.
The concertina configuration suggests the image of the digestive system and connotes the meaning of the words ‘reflection’ and ‘reflexive’ coming from the sense of a physical and metaphorical bending or turning back, nodding to the visual image of the digestive tract itself with its nine metres of twists and turns crammed neatly into the body’s cavity.
The intestinal undulations are further mirrored in the loops and garlands of the handwriting itself which is a joined up text, each word tied to the previous, the next, and to the subsequent line, so the text, a kind of Boustrophedon, is a continuous line running from left to right and right to left from the beginning of the book to the end. This scripto continua refers to Latin texts from the early Christian era, when there were no spaces between words in a manuscript. In my scripto continua, the language is not easily legible enabling the lettering to hover between word and image, content and form.
The project explores the re-emergence of the body as an important site for discussions of knowledge and knowing, the key to challenging the legacy of Cartesian dualism; a privileging of the mind over the body. It embraces methodologies of embodiment, phenomenology and reflection, as well as printmaking and book arts, where digital and mechanical technologies and the bodily/hand-made meet.
Thanks to Jonathan Jarvis, Ken Borg and Emmanuelle Waeckerle.