Academic journal article Literator: Journal of Literary Criticism, comparative linguistics and literary studies

Towards a Theoretical Underpinning of the Book Arts: Applying Bakhtin's Dialogism and Heteroglossia to Selected Examples of the Artist's book/Ondersoek Na 'N Teoretiese Onderskraging Van Boekkuns: Die Toepassing Van Bakhtin Se Dialogisme En Heteroglossia Op Geselekteerde Voorbeelde Van Kunstenaarsboeke

Academic journal article Literator: Journal of Literary Criticism, comparative linguistics and literary studies

Towards a Theoretical Underpinning of the Book Arts: Applying Bakhtin's Dialogism and Heteroglossia to Selected Examples of the Artist's book/Ondersoek Na 'N Teoretiese Onderskraging Van Boekkuns: Die Toepassing Van Bakhtin Se Dialogisme En Heteroglossia Op Geselekteerde Voorbeelde Van Kunstenaarsboeke

Article excerpt

Recent research projects and conferences devoted to the book arts have responded to Johanna Drucker's 2005 call that a more rigorous theoretical underpinning of the field of book art production needs to be established urgently. Yet these projects and conferences, resultant from the participation of artists and other practitioners in the field, not surprisingly, have biased their discussions on the book arts towards practice and away from theory. In establishing that a need still exists for an appropriate lens through which the artist's book might be more rigorously and theoretically examined, this article explored the following publications: Stephane Mallarme and Marcel Broodthaers's Un coup de des, Buzz Spector's reductive Marcel Broodthaers, Ulises Carrion's For fans and scholars alike and Helen Douglas and Telfer Stokes's Real fiction. These specific examples, and particularly their relationships and dialogues which each other, were examined through a lens provided by the Russian philosopher and literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin's writings on dialogism and heteroglossia. These critical terms, which demonstrate the dialogic, multivocal and heteroglot voices between works in history and within themselves, as cultural utterances, were shown to be appropriate and useful frames for the analysis of particular qualities which enunciate the presence of artists' books in the world: self-consciousness, discursive perceptivity and reflexivity. I therefore, applied Bakhtin's notions of dialogism and heteroglossia to the task of proposing a theoretical foundation for the artist's book, as a dynamic visual language, which is relational and engaged in a process of endless redescriptions of the world.

Onlangse navorsingsprojekte en konferensies oor boekkuns het gereageer op Johanna Drucker se oproep in 2005 dat noodsaaklike navorsingswerk gedoen moet word om 'n deegliker teoretiese basis vir die terrein van boekkunsproduksie te vestig. Die deelname van kunstenaars en ander praktisyns van boekkuns veroorsaak dat gesprekke en besprekings noodwendig en voorspelbaar neig na die praktyk en weg van die teorie. In die Lig van die behoefte aan die bepaling van 'n toepaslike visie waarvolgens die kunsboek meer eksplisiet, ook teoreties, ondersoek kan word, ondersoek hierdie artikel Stephane Mallarme en Marcel Broodthaers se Un coup de des publikasies, Buzz Spector se simplifiserende Marcel Broodthaers, Ulises Carrion se For fans and scholars alike, en Helen Douglas en Telfer Stokes se Real fiction. Hierdie spesifieke voorbeelde, en hulle onderlinge verbande en dialoog met mekaar, word ondersoek vanuit die perspektief van die Russiese filosoof en literere teoretikus Mikhail Bakhtin se werk oor dialogisme en heteroglossia ('ander-tongigheid'). Hierdie begrippe demonstreer die dialogiese, multivokale en veeltongige wisselwerking tussen en binne historiese werke as kultuuruitings. Deur die analise toon ek aan dat hierde begrippe toepaslike en funksionele raamwerke uitmaak vir die analise van spesifieke aspekte wat die teenwoordigheid van kunstenaarsboeke aankondig in die wereld: selfbewustheid en omvattende diskoers wat wederkerend toepaslik is. Ek stel voor dat Bakthin se idees oor dialogisme en heteroglossie gebruik word as die teoretiese begronding van die kunstenaarsboek as 'n dinamiese visuele taal wat in 'n netwerk van ander tekste staan en deel is van die proses van die eindelose herbeskrywing van die wereld.

Introduction

In this article I respond to Johanna Drucker's (2005:3) rebuke that the critical apparatus for artists' books is about as sophisticated as that which exists for needlework, decoupage, and other 'crafts', and that its theoretical foundation doesn't yet exist. Drucker's challenge responded to Dick Higgins's much earlier call for critical theoretical work to be undertaken when he stated that '... the language of normative criticism is not geared towards the discussion of an experience, which is the main focus of most artists' books' (Higgins in Lyons 1985:12). …

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