Progress on this instruction has been relatively slow considering it was first set in July. I have now got to the stage of using cellulose thinners and cutting rubber stamps for block colours. The texture of the laid paper has had an effect on the success of the images, similarly working on bound pages within such a large volume sometimes makes it difficult to get a flat surface. However I like the immediacy of the process and having only one chance to get it right, this means having to accept imperfections and mistakes!
Text from TM to PW 07.24 – 30 July 2017
With reference to the contents of the Introduction or Epitaph construct decorative end papers to embellish and inform.
I find working on the instructions from T far more challenging and interesting than my own, this is because we don’t tend to question or discuss the meaning of the task so there is naturally a certain amount of ambiguity involved. Our responses are a personal interpretation – and I enjoy the fact that I may not interpret the instruction as it was intended. This is the case with instruction 6. At the back of my book, beyond the index is a blank page, which would be classed as the endpaper – I am assuming that this is where T intended the response to be placed – and do I use the same blank page at the beginning of the book, even though I have no introduction to interpret? Whatever the case, there is no right or wrong and it will be interesting to compare the books when we eventually see them side by side.
My starting point to interpret the Epitaph was to research into Georgian death notices; whilst I was familiar with Victorian mourning cards that were sent in envelopes edged with black borders, it was difficult to establish if this was a custom during the early 19th century, however I did find some interesting imagery that had similar qualities to a rubber stamp or lino-print and this was perceived as a potential visual style. Similarly decorative borders in various styles were also a familiar feature.
Naturally the epitaph itself offered lots of plaudits and a list of adjectives to describe Windham’s character – ‘pious’ was one visual starting point; as well as the epitaph within the diary I found testimonies from friends and colleagues of Windham – one from the writer Samuel Johnson used the latin phrase ‘inter stellas Luna minores’ – the moon among the lesser fires – this also resonated as a possible visual starting point. I looked at the repetitive nature of decorative endpapers and developed ideas for a step and repeat pattern based on visual connections with Windham.
Written note from PW to TM posted 10.15am – 12 July 2017
Develop a system to catalogue the known addresses from where Windham wrote his letters.
Having identified each page where an address was in evidence – 89 in total with 14 different locations, my first task was to work out the percentage of letters sent from each particular place. I researched into each location and in many instances was able to pinpoint the actual number of the street where Windham lived, however this information was incomplete as sometimes he listed just a place name not a full address, so this was sadly not a route I could develop further. Instead I considered how each place could be categorized; whilst colour-coding seemed an obvious starting point, I quickly realized that this may be confused with the system adopted in instruction 2. Next I started to explore the potential of using actual maps, and by reflecting on the methodology adopted in instruction 4 – which had been relatively successful – began to examine how I could use a similar system to depict the hierarchical nature of the addresses.
Using a modern road atlas I highlighted each place name within approximately a 2.5cm square section; the number of times that the location appeared within the book determined the percentage by which the square section was then enlarged. The colour copies of the map were then wrapped around the edge of each relevant page using a system of alignment. What is perhaps less successful than the way this process worked in the previous instruction, is the fact that incrementally the difference between each place name is at times limited, therefore it doesn’t allow a real sense of scale to be established.
Having used the covers of the book for a previous instruction, I wanted to use the spine as a vehicle for cataloguing each place, the numeric value of each location is represented by a small roundel punched from the same map section used within the book pages.
Text message from TM to PW 15.24 – 19 June 2017
Using the portraits of non-recipients, illuminate/amplify their connection to the life, loves and letters of William Windham.
I viewed this instruction as an opportunity to develop a set of more unified illustrations than those produced for instruction 3 which lacked cohesion and identity; this was a chance to
revert to previous (more successful) practice by putting in place a series of systems to develop a visual style.
The first action was to identify the non-recipient portraits and how many letters each person had sent to Windham – surprisingly three people had sent no correspondence to WW at all, therefore it was decided to deal with these portraits in a separate manner. This left 4 portraits to work with. To get an understanding of their relationship with Windham, I read each letter several times to determine its tone of voice – one major problem with this was that some of the letters had been heavily obliterated in response to instruction 1, so working with what was still readable I identified those correspondents who I considered friends and those who were considered foes. Having ascertained how many letters each correspondent had sent, I was able to work with this information to develop a system. The portraits were photocopied onto either blue (friend) or pink (foe) paper, at the same time each image was enlarged by a percentage that correlated with the number of sent correspondence; for example Canning sent 8 letters to Windham, so his portrait was enlarged to 180%, whilst the Duke of Gloucester only sent 1 letter so was enlarged to 110%, and so forth.
This system helps to communicate the direct relationship each person had with Windham. I also wanted to portray the relationship each person had with others within the book by
using the hierarchy of the British peerage system in some way. By identifying all the names (that again were readable) within each letter, I typed each one onto a colour-coded piece of paper to represent their rank/title. Using a system of placement, each name was sewn onto the illustration in a position that represented its place on the book page; the thread colour was defined by the same hierarchical system of rank. Working on copies then attaching them into the book enabled me to avoid some of the problems encountered with the previous illustrations and opened up opportunities to work with machine stitching. A key to identify the
system hierarchy was placed on the page opposite the first non-correspondent portrait.
Despite the various ups and downs of the intersect project, we now seem to be back on track. With my sections of the book typed and sent to T – using recorded delivery (to ensure against further losses!); I have been able to move on to the covers, whilst T begins the typing of her sections, whenever she gets some spare time… thanks to the portable typewriter!
We are using the covers from my book but the (new) title has been taken from the title page of T’s book. The initial idea for the front cover was to translate the title using code, however the symbols +*=:/ are not all available as wood type, therefore it was decided to overprint the full title using black ink to reflect the typed code of the inner pages. The inscription from T’s original book was also letterpress printed, this time using red to reflect the second colour of the typing, it was placed in the same position as the original book – the inside front cover; these processes continue the concept of intersect.
Text message from PW to TM 11.52, 22 May
Using the portraits of recipients, depict/illustrate/communicate some aspect of
Windham’s correspondence with the individual. Deadline 12 June.
Highlighting a particular aspect of Windham’s correspondence was reasonably straightforward as in the majority of cases the illustrations within volume 2 depict recipients who
received limited letters from Windham – the exception being Lord Grenville who received 23! However finding a common theme in each of his 23 letters was not as difficult as anticipated.
Working on illustrations that are bound within such a large volume was challenging, and as suspected the folded pages from instruction no.1 also impeded some production methods.
Rubber-stamping, letterpress (albeit hand printing) and collage techniques were adopted to develop a range of individual solutions rather than a thematic approach. The final illustrations are not wholly successful due the restrictive nature of the bound pages. With hindsight more effective pre-planning would have helped improve both composition and technique – photocopying each illustration to practice upon prior to beginning would have been advantageous, however as with the first instruction, I worked directly onto the pages after only limited testing of media and techniques.
Unlike instructions 1 and 2, this was the first time that a system was not put in place
in response to the instruction, instead each of the 8 illustration pages is an individual reaction to the topic of correspondence.
After 8 days of waiting for the parcel from T to arrive, it became apparent that part of the original book pages were lost somewhere in the postal system. My initial thoughts were that this would put an end to the project, however a Facetime discussion enabled us to establish that T had made some copies and only 6 pages in total had been lost, this meant that we could still proceed. We decided that rather than reduce the number of pages, the book would remain at 20pp with the lost text pages remaining either blank – or with something to identify or even celebrate the loss. Although the delay had an impact on the original planned production schedule – once typing commenced on the newly adjusted pages, it was an incredibly quick process, and as time went by it became easy to translate each sentence quite naturally into the code – almost becoming fluent in a new hieroglyphic language!
Having finalized all the details for Intersect, as we began to start work, it became apparent that whilst we had divided and swapped sections of the two original books, further work was needed to resolve the imposition and order of the new book before work could begin.
Talking face to face, we quickly identified that we didn’t have enough text pages for Revised Edition to be more than 20pp, and we would need to re-distribute the pages that had already been divided. We made the decision to type the book (using the code), in the same order as the original edition. Through discussion some former decisions were also adjusted – namely the covers and end papers.
At the end of the discussion we agreed tasks – I offered to work out the imposition and make a dummy, whilst T would re-divide the text pages and post the necessary extra pages to me.
Text message from TM to PW 21.18, 8 May 2017
Catalogue William Windham’s correspondence by constructing/extracting an inventory of recipients. Deadline 22 May
When I first read the second instruction set by T, I wanted to gain a clear understanding of the meaning of inventory, rather than making assumptions, therefore I chose to work with the
interpretation of an inventory as a tally.
Colour coding the individual recipients seemed an obvious way forward, but I wanted the colours to have a resonance with each person; taking inspiration from T’s previous working methodology I started to research all 36 recipients. Whilst Wikipedia was a quick, invaluable resource – many of the recipients were impossible to find, so it became clear that finding a colour that was relevant was going to be a challenge. After studying the work of both Karel Martens and Irma Boom, I started to consider how it maybe possible to combine graphic shapes or pattern with colour; to develop this idea further I turned to the letters themselves for visual clues.
Reading the paper by Kathy Corcoran (subject cataloging workshop, ARLIS/NA, L.A., 31 March 2001) entitled: ‘Many intricate and difficult problems that torture the mind – words of wisdom for art cataloguers in the real world’ – I was mindful of her statement:
Besides knowledge and skill at interpreting and applying rules, we need to call on our judgement,
experience, and intuition, and even occasionally our sense of aesthetics and of what ‘looks right’
Although written in relation to library cataloguing I chose to adapt the same approach – this gave me the necessary freedom and flexibility I needed to develop a colour coding system that was more abstract but still had some form of significance (however tenuous).
Whilst part of our research is to determine whether or not working independently will affect the outcome, by the second instruction I am conscious that because we know each so well, and talk regularly, it is difficult not to be aware of T’s various approaches and be influenced by her methods.
Following our Facetime discussion two weeks ago, we have both divided and sent our
respective half books to each other, giving us an opportunity to examine and reflect on
potential directions for Intersect. Having identified that both books used colour keys, tonight’s discussion centered around the idea of applying a similar process to that of the Windham
Papers, through the development of a key-based system.
The challenge with the cross-stitch books is that they are both largely image based, so we came to the conclusion that by using the text matter, which is more limited, we could allocate a typewriter symbol to the five vowels. We did this by a process of discussion and elimination resulting in the following key: a + e* i= o: u/
The key will enable us to interpret the text through the development of a series of patterns typed on top of the existing book. Due to the sometimes dense nature of the pages, each pattern will be typed in red in response to whatever space is available; to enable a greater sense of hierarchy, headings will be letterpress printed in a different colour using the same key. We’ll each attempt a sample page before we meet in a week’s time. A decision regarding the schedule and book structure will made once we are satisfied that the idea is feasible.