Salon session: The Page
An afternoon session of three papers examining different aspects of working with the page.
Monday 9 December 2019, 1.30-4.00 pm
UTS, Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building
Out of Fashion Optics: L’Optique Moderne, an artist’s book
L’Optique Moderne or ‘Modern Optics’ is a striking 1960s artist’s book by Nouveau Réaliste artist Daniel Spoerri and ex-Lettriste poet and Nouveau Réaliste François Dufrêne. First published by George Maciunas’s innovative Fluxus editions in 1963, it remains a little-known Fluxus masterpiece on the vicissitudes of mid-twentieth century vision—as glimpsed through the lens of unfashionable eyewear. The book juxtaposes tongue-in-cheek portrait photographs of Spoerri posing in glasses with multi-coded alliterative poems by Dufrêne. When read out loud, Dufrêne’s seemingly nonsensical text erupts into playful fragmented commentary on optometrists, philosophers, and French quotidian life. L’Optique Moderne’s kaleidoscopic cultural references and shifting image-text relations form the basis of this investigation. What relationships, I ask, occur between Spoerri’s images and Dufrêne’s texts? How does the book challenge conventions of reading and viewing? And in what ways does Spoerri and Dufrêne’s publication address political issues through its questioning of one-point perspective and the illusions of mastery that accompany it?
Surfacing the Page
This paper takes up the theme of ‘surfacing the page’, imagining the page as a productively redefined space of inquiry for investigating the writing process. We locate these discussions in relation to our current work on a prototype critical digitization project looking at the draft manuscript page. We are working with a set of manuscripts drawn from an autobiographical memoir, Don’t Take Your Love to Town (1988), by Ruby Langford Ginibi, an Australian Indigenous writer, that are held in the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales. We were drawn to these manuscript drafts initially by the heavily worked over nature of their pages and later by the knowledge that the resulting book had been the subject of a legal dispute over the relative contributions of author and editor, a relationship played out upon the page. Our experimental visualisation techniques enable us to create alternate ways of surfacing the writing process graphically, generating new insights into both writing and editing. We also consider what speculative artefacts produced by visually manipulating existing archival documents can reveal more generally about the affordances of the page in digital environments. Finally, we consider how experimental visualisation techniques can offer new and quite surprising ways to explore questions of visual materiality at the intersection of critical archival studies, genetic criticism and design-led humanities research.
Maryanne Dever, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, UTS
Cut and Paste
Digital formats were once imagined to spell the ‘end’ of paper. And yet, the various new and emergent technologies that promised to replace paper have only enlivened our understandings of archival materialities. They have lent a new urgency or intensity to our engagements with the archived page by prompting us to consider the potential of paper and the page in ways that we have hitherto largely ignored. Put differently, that which was initially thought to diminish the page in its materiality has ironically only enlarged it for us. In this presentation I pose a series of questions about the importance of materiality for how researchers understand and work with paper in the form of the archived page. Drawing examples from research among literary papers and personal correspondence I highlight how the conditions of the digital turn provide for a return to ‘thinking through paper’ and a new sensitivity to the affordances of the page.