Foreword Jack Ginsberg

Book artists have been as enthusiastic in adopting new technologies as have other artists. There are artists’ books using every imaginable printing and print-making technique and the relatively new computer generated digital imagery has been used by book artists from its inception. It is not surprising that book artists have been particularly innovative in the use of new printing technologies and their websites [1] detail experiments with imagery using photocopies, fax copies (notably also used by David Hockney), ink-jet printers, laser printers (latterly in colour) and even some early experimentation with now virtually defunct dot-matrix printers. Letterists and concrete poets have used letterpress, the typewriter and the computer. Commercial photo-lithographic and offset techniques, usually used to print vast print runs, have been adapted by book artists to print exquisite limited edition books (Nova Reperta by Brad Freeman, the pioneer in this practice, is probably the best example).

Artists’ books have evolved in just over a century from the French Livre d'Artiste, where word and image were so perfectly combined, to realistic page-turning software on bookart websites! Although the emphasis is still on printing techniques, purely digital presentations using video, DVDs and web sites are becoming more widespread and the inclusion of a DVD with an artist’s book almost commonplace; occasionally the book becoming just a package for the digital component! The digital interface or the use of the computer in some aspect of the production of artists’ books is ubiquitous and is largely responsible for the proliferation of bookarts courses. The (forced) sequential characteristics (incorporating mobility) which book artists have found so compelling in the presentation of their artwork, has been transferred into the digital age. Hypertext has allowed different kinds of sequencing often giving the reader more options but still directed by the artist. Walter Hamady of the Perishable Press, who has used letterpress in his remarkable books, long ago created a page-based ‘hypertext’ with the use of footnotes in his innovative Gabberjab series. The more things change….

This exhibition aims to explore what parallel activities might be taking place in South Africa.

[1] see for the most comprehensive listserve on the bookarts.

Jack Ginsberg, amongst many other things, is an internationally recognised book collector. He has one of the finest collections of artists’ books in the world. Jack is also a trustee of the Ampersand Foundation and a patron of the arts.