Jim Butler is a practitioner and academic, leading the M.A Illustration & Book Arts course at Cambridge School of Art, Anglia Ruskin University. He has a particular interest in visual language developed sequentially or over large series of work. His ongoing research included a series of several hundred collage drawings documenting different cities. His artist’s books explore a range of themes and have been acquired by a number of major public collections. He sees his practice as being not just integral to research but a means of researching ideas through practice.
The Duration of the Page
In his 1975 essay, The New Art of Making Books, Ulises Carrión proposed that “A book is a sequence of spaces. Each of these spaces is perceived at a different moment – a book is also a sequence of moments.”
This presentation explores ideas around the duration of these moments in the artist’s book. As a practioner and academic, Butler gives an insight into how considering the duration and the sequencing of these moments informs the design of bookworks.
Duration in the first instance here relates to the time or moment of reading, and Carrión was primarily concerned with text-based work, but we consider the moment in a spread from a work such as Mallarmé’s Coup de Dés. Already this duration is difficult to measure – word counts are no longer sufficient. How then might we approach the duration in primarily visual work? Is this a sufficient basis for understanding the duartion of the page?
Based on examples from Butler’s own practice and drawing on ideas from narrative theory, this presentation discusses notions of narrated time, (the fictional passage of time), and time of narrating, (the reading time). It explores the variations of relative lengths, and how these produce tempo and rhythm. Ultimatley, returning to Carrión, considers how this device is essential in the creation of meaning within the structure of a bookwork.