There are other manifestations of books which have little to do with the traditional book or "novel." These are known as "artist books" not to be confused with "art books" or even "book art" which is in a category of its own. The artist book is an object of eloquence with poetic inclinations and as it is produced by the artist, is usually available in limited editions due to the constraints imposed by its hand made nature. The artist book is a peculiar creature characterised at its apex by clever invention using a myriad of devices engaging text, images, all manner of papers, plastics and binding fixtures. Artist books come in many formats incorporating foldouts, flick pages, cut-outs, layered cut-aways, hand printing, digital printing, stencilling, calligraphy, photocopies, photographs, drawings and found objects in all manner of shapes and configurations. In short, the possibilities for artist books lie in the range of "awesome" in the hands of an imaginative practitioner.
Lyn Ashby is one such person, making amazing, interdisciplinary books based around his diverse interests and expertise linking language use in games, riddles and puzzles within set social conventions. With delicate poise he combines his elements in an almost alchemical fashion wringing out new meaning from that which is "known" through the use of hyperbole, metaphor, irony and inversion. Not only are the materials and compositions shrewdly mapped out in advance, the core of ideas is skilfully interwoven into the whole. If this sounds all too serious a venture to contemplate, rest assured that a healthy dose of humour is lovingly spliced between the pages. Lyn wants his readers to enjoy their passage through articulate aesthetic landscapes but he also wants them to finish with a sense of unease, that all is not as it appears.
In a time when much art is increasingly the solipsistic introverted projection of its makers, it is refreshing to find a practitioner who works intelligently blending both ideas and materials together into a beautifully cognisant whole. Artist books open a space for astute exploration of the possibilities inherent in the "form" known as "book" where the manual turning of and examination of"pages" facilitates intimate human engagement with "books as art."
Lyn Ashby is an inventor of imaginary linguistic scenarios that transport us to the realm of "extraordinary" and to this end his work has a transcendent or numinous quality that inspires me continuously.
Take time to check out Lyn Ashby's amazing books here.