To locate book A, consult first book B which indicates A's position; to locate book B, consult first a book C, and so on to infinity ....
(Jorge Luis Borges, “The Library of Babel”)
The essence of this exhibition is book but this isn’t a book fair. As the effective carriers of information, books prove themselves valuable far beyond description. For centuries, humans have consciously been writing, reading, collecting, and categorising books from which they not only learn about the world but create one based on the structured knowledge within. A tight connection between books and art has also been identified since ancient times for books being the “carriers” of imagery and the inspiration for artists. Some contemporary artworks are identified with “archival impulse” 2 as artists utilise archives to create their own works by remixing the elements within.
Therefore, we intend to examine “how artists think of books” through related activities, such as reading, writing, binding, publishing, preserving, and categorising, and name this exhibition after Cross-Domain Reading &Writing: A Biblio-ecology in Art to illustrate the participating artists’ interdisciplinary practices of art and imply the cross-domain solutions in the IT industry. This exhibition recruits eleven artists, including Lin Hongjohn, Chen Kuang-Yi, Duncan Mountford, Tsou Yung-Shan, Chou Man-Nung, Chang Chih-Chung, Chen Shiau-Peng, Chi Chien, HSU Chia-Wei, Margot Guillemot, and Chiu Chieh-Sen, to cover several issues.
First, reading and researching. We all read with different purposes. Some appear to be the “true reader”3 as that to Virginia Woolf, reading purely for passion; some aim at learning and follow the map in their minds to acquire structured knowledge. Observation on readers thus becomes an interesting topic to artist like TSOU Yung-Shan. Moreover, as documentation and archiving become vital methodologies in contemporary art, we’re seeing a bunch of artists remaking, re-constructing, investigating, and researching these information carriers; works of Lin Hongjohn, Chang Chih-Chung, Chi Chien Chiu Chieh-Sen, Margot Guillemot and HSU Chia-Wei, are just some good examples.
The second issue is about writing and bookmaking. Artists have their traditions to make books. As some iconic pieces of “artists’ books” (livre d'artiste) had been published in 1960s, this new classification, “artists’ books,” was thus created. According to the scholar, Christophe Comentale, artists’ books are the products of Western culture, and they are different from picture books (livre illustré). They are not based on any existing stories; instead, they allow artists to present their works with full autonomy.4 An artist’s book “is not an advertisement of art but an artwork itself.”5 Hence, some artists, like Chen Shiau-Peng and Chen Kuang-Yi, think about the duo identities as the authors and the artists, and some present unique narratives through the use of their own artists’ books, such as Chen Shiau-Peng, Tsou Yung-Shan, and Chi Chien. With these efforts, art and publishing sectors are both expanding to reach each another’s and their crossover area becomes the experimental, interdisciplinary fields of art.
Lastly, the knowledge schemes. Borges described libraries as his heaven and as the universe. From the art of memory to encyclopaedia to library and information science, the world reveals itself through a varieties of knowledge schemes. Artists like Duncan Mountford, HSU Chia-Wei, and Chen Kuang-Yi thus find some fun in building up new, atypical knowledge schemes and entitle them with new meanings.