SPEAKING IN TONGUES: SPEAKING DIGITALLY / DIGITALLY SPEAKING (2015)
Type of book work: Editioned / Printed work & Digital work
Medium: Printed with Epson UltraChrome inks on Innova Smooth Cotton High White 220gsm. Boxed, Typeset and hand letterpressed in Gill by Helene van Aswegen.
Accompanied by a single channel video
Dimensions: 152mm high x 110mm wide (closed), Various dimensions possible (open)
Artist's / designer's statements
The work is a small leporello (accordion or concertina-fold) book with 154 pages of
laser-printed images divided into two chapters that are printed on each side of the
paper. The first, Speaking Digitally, comprises an animated series of my youngest son Liam's subtly moving hands while gaming online. The second chapter, Digitally Speaking, is an animated series of my mother Shirley's dynamically moving hands while conducting a conversation with the artist. The book is designed for multiple openings and multiple ways of negotiating the narrative: it can be paged through, page by page, or it can be opened in such a way as to allow different parts of the narrative or even the book's front and back to be viewed simultaneously - very unbook-like.
The accordion-fold structure hints at being a possible flipbook, given its small size, facilitating the ability of the pages to be flipped so as to pass like the video which accompanies the book and which can be projected ahead of it. Its structure, however, hinders the successful flipping of the pages. Being difficult to handle, it refuses to keep a stable form - a book with a mind of its own is an idea that appeals to me. The many still drawings of my son's hands for the animation section of the video are locked onto a double-page spread and given a duration which they cannot receive in the video. Likewise, the longer contemplative sections of the video that depict my mother's hands, are reduced to a manageable size which can be haptically and quickly manipulated: a book of active hands held in the hands and manipulated at another pace seemed like an interesting idea. By avoiding a spine, the hands pass across the gutter without visual and structural interruption.
The title refers to the faith I need to make art in a space and time that actively conspires against this activity as well as the faith I have in a visual language which does not communicate conventionally. My mother, who speaks in tongues, and who has probably read more books than most, might like this idea, while the idea of 'the passing of time' vs. psychological duration is, of course, Henri Bergson's.
Artist / Academic / Curator
David Paton is currently Senior Lecture and past head of the Department (2004 - 2009) of Visual Art at the University of Johannesburg where he teaches Drawing and Studio Practice at all undergraduate levels. He also supervises Postgraduate students' studies, four of whom have received the prestigious Chancellor's Medal for Meritorious Postgraduate Study. He received his MAFA at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2001 with a dissertation titled South African Artists' Books and Book-objects since 1960. David has curated numerous exhibitions of the book arts in South Africa and heads the curatorial team which hosted the Booknesses exhibitions and colloquium at the University of Johannesburg in 2017. David has authored catalogues of exhibitions of the artist's book and published a number of articles on the book arts in local and international journals. David is a peer reviewer for the journal de Arte and for NRF rating applications in his field. He hosts the website Artists' Books in South Africa, is twice the recipient of the Ampersand Foundation Fellowship to New York (1999 & 2017) and is the father of two sons.
Anglo-American Corporation, Johannesburg
Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Alexandria, Egypt
The Jack Ginsberg Collection of Art and Artists' Books, Johannesburg
Johannesburg Art Gallery
Lower Eastside Printshop Print Cabinet, New York
MTN Collection, Johannesburg
Shumann Sasol Collection, Johannesburg
Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town
University of Johannesburg Collection, Johannesburg
Imago Mundi collection of Luciano Benetton, Italy
Numerous private collections