Reflection on Digestion
We’ve been working on a large scale project for artist Amanda Couch. Her new book Reflection on Digestion is a concertina book measuring 9 metres, calfskin leather-bound tome and foil pressed cover, hand printed on polymer plates using our Columbian Press. This was a great project to work on and was produced over a period of 2 months. The book will be available in an edition of 3. It was launched at this years Small Publishers Fair in London with a reading performance
Reflection on Digestion is an epic work. As book, it is nine metres, folded back and forth into an eighteen-page concertina form. Its covers are of undyed calfskin with gold hot foil embossed lettering, and its pages are made of 410gsm white somerset satin paper relief printed from photo polymer plates.
It is book but it is also performance: 37 hours of scribing in the form of Reflection in Digestion, which took place on the second day of the Book Live! symposium and four subsequent days in the Wimbledon College of Art library.
The bodily act of the scribe originated the manuscript, which was then transferred and translated through digital and mechanical technologies with bookRoom press at UCA Farnham, and then hand-made, to produce an edition of three book works.
The performative aspect of Reflection in Digestion is also embedded in the experience of the audience. It reconnects the reader to a corporeal relationship with the book and reading, in that they are required to negotiate the monumental, physical nine-metre form of the book, as well as the awkward image-text within, reconstituting a relationship arguably severed by the invention of the printing press.
The body and metaphors of digestion are deeply embedded in the history of the book, according to Mary Carruthers. Reading, she writes, in The Book of Memory 3, was ‘a bodily performance’, rather than simply the decoding of words on a page. ‘The medieval scholar’s relationship to his texts is quite different from modern objectivity. Reading is to be digested, to be ruminated, like a cow chewing her cud’. (Amanda couch 2013)
Reflection on Digestion is funded by a University for the Creative Arts Research Award.
Reflection on Digestion (small) is in a number of UK collections including: University for the Creative Arts, Farnham Artists’ Book Collection; Saison Poetry Library, London; Scriptorial Museum, Avranches, France; Special Collections & Archives at the University of Kent, Canterbury. Wellcome Library, London.
Reflection on Digestion
– Photo polymer relief printed on 410gsm somerset satin paper with calf skin and gold hotfoil 50 x 45 x 900 cm. Edition of 3
– Laser print on 145gsm soft white Zerkall paper with blind embossed 410gsm Somerset satin internal, and vellum external covers. 14 x 2 x 300 cm. Limited edition of 30.