The art is thin, but secret identities are always fascinating. No artist needs one. They are always put in place to cover up a glaring weakness. In Banksy’s case, the weakness is that he is simply a mildly talented, professionally skilled illustrator with some measure of showmanship. The showmanship is the primary industry in his case. He draws for people who are texting. There is absolutely no art being produced. None at all. But that is one hell of grand joke if you ask me! Banksy naked would simply be the emperor with no clothes. I do however believe that the energy and impulses behind the current explosion of street art will lead directly into the next great movement in art. But that movement will most assuredly not include Banksy.
This is a video about the Los Angeles fine art printer, Richard Duardo, who worked with Banksy to prepare for a 2006 gallery show. The film was made by Brad Beyer and Robert Dragan. There’s an official website.
I’ve never seen a film about making ink. This is a film by Tate Young for The Printing Ink Company. It features Peter Welfare, President and Head Inkmaker, showing us the entire process of mixing and testing colors. How often do you get to watch a film about a guy who seems to really love his work?
“This man is an author. He writes stories. He has just finished writing a story. He thinks many people will like to read it.” So begins this 1947 Encyclopedia Britannica film about how books are printed and bound. Almost none of what you see in the film, with the possible exception of the book trimming blade, exists anymore. It’s fascinating and horrifying at the same time. Fascinating because we get to see the mysterious process of making a book. Horrifying because we see how machines dictate the movements of human beings in an assembly line environment. It’s so dreadful that I may never want to read an old book again. Perhaps e-books are some kind of salvation after all.
I sat down with my Kindle e-reader on Saturday morning to read the Los Angeles Times. There was an article about an L.A. used bookstore called Iliad Books. Sounded nice. So I went. What should I find but a section of books about books and publishing. There was a copy of The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making by Adrian Johns. The author’s main thrust is to examine how books in early modern England influenced and largely caused the development of the modern scientific method and the general acquisition and spread of knowledge. He wonders why readers assume that books are accurate and fixed. This is an interesting inquiry in light of the recent changes in publishing which involve ever-changeable electronic publishing and web postings. The history of the effort to make books fixed and true representations of their authors’ intentions and ideas is a fascinating one. It includes an analysis of widespread piracy that dogged publishers of books from the very beginnings of printed material.
Thinking about the nature of books and their history, along with the underworld of book manipulation, piracy, copyright, and the conveying of knowledge is essential as publishing undergoes its greatest changes since the beginnings of the printed page.
Here’s a stop-motion film about the making of a book called The Complex of All These. It was made at the Women’s Studio Workshop in Rosendale, New York and consists of 3,000 photographs taken over a 2-month period.
Well… it better not jam. That’s my two cents. But really this is a neat idea. A book printer. It lets a user download, print, and bind a real book in just a few minutes. The New York Public Library has one. I’m not sure if one is expected to return the books it prints, but if they think it’s a good machine, it probably is. The Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt has one. This is the kind of machine that makes online book printing services like Lulu.com really start making sense. Of course, the shops and libraries must keep themselves supplied with the right paper and cover materials. But it is quite obvious that the days of publishers shipping cartons of books to bookstores all over the world in such bulk are very numbered. Pretty soon there will be a book printer in many homes. That’s assuming that everyone doesn’t switch to ebooks. But with companies like Amazon building portable cash registers instead of real ebook devices, that will not happen for a long time.