Since 2008, we have continuously published CODE(X)+1 monographs in an effort to maintain and support traditional knowledge and bookmaking skills at the highest possible level. At the same time, we work to document and encourage technological and experimental innovations in current book arts practice.
These individual essays and manifestoes are feuilletons, deliberations, and provocations designed to provide a voice to creative artists, writers, printers, and scholars of the book regarding the book as a work of art in the current international dialogue.
CODE(x)+1 #1: Why There Are Pages and Why They Must Turn
by Robert Bringhurst
“In cultures possessing fluent scripts, paper, and printing, books have acquired a stable material form. Those quiet, reliable, portable, legible objects are the benchmark incarnation of the book for most of us now, yet we know that, to be real, a book must be more than a physical object. What makes the tangible form of a book rewarding is that it stands for an intangible reality alive in the heart and mind.”
CODE(x)+1 #2: ART : Definition Five (And Other Writings)
by Peter Rutledge Koch
“The great collections at the Museum of Modern Art and the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco are filled with what are loosely referred to as “artist’s books” but a great many of the books are more or less ordinary books with art in them. The books of Vollard and Kahnweiler are containers of art. Erase the pages and what remains is an entirely ordinary but blank book. Contemporary art with its more comprehensive and sophisticated approach to physical and formal properties requires the book itself (full and present in all its particularness) to measure up. This change in perspective has matured greatly in the last thirty years.”
CODE(x)+1 #3: Each New Book
by Alan Loney
“There is no doubt that fine press books propose a value for their material existence per se. This value could be seen as a replacement/rejection of the ‘spiritual’ value of the ‘sacred’ object. This is not merely the slip of my prejudices showing (tho I do not deny it is that) but also the whole undergarment in contrast to the invisible threads by which the ‘sacred’ has bound communities together over against other communities. The chosen book is the chosen community, even in the avant garde. The question remains – how do I value the book without rendering it ‘sacred’ – even if the sacred is read simply as ‘a thing apart’”
CODE(x)+1 #4: <usus>, Typography, and Artists' Books
by Ulrike Stoltz & Uta Schneider
<usus> does not design type, we design with type, and the medium we prefer is the book. Contents and the text are already there, the book designer has to work with these components in a way that the reader/viewer is able to gain easy access to the subject matter.
CODE(x)+1 #5: Visionaries & Fanatics: Type Design & the Private Press
by Russell Maret
Within the community of typographic printers the problem of identity is generally assumed to be a problem suffered by book artists, by those other people working outside of the well-defined sanctum of the Fine Press. This comfortable view overlooks a division within the letterpress community that is too often blurred and as a result is the source of my greater concern:
Does the private press have a future?
CODE(x)+1 #6: Acide Brut Manifesto
by Didier Mutel
"Didier Mutel is a synaesthetic printer focused on the bite-of acid on metal, of the metal plate on paper, of the printed words on the mind. He knows that all senses must be involved in the creation, reception, and survival of the crafts of engraving and printing in the new mellenium."
-- Timothy Young from the introduction
CODE(x)+2 #1: Marinetti's Metal Book
by Vincent Giroud
"Futurism was also a revolution of the book, and there rests, in fact, one of its greatest artistic legacies. This revolution, as in many other -isms of the twentieth-century, began as a revolution of the word, an opening up of language to all kinds of hitherto unexplored possibilities. But Futurism was much more than a literary movement: as much as in the writing of the book and its contents, Futurist poets and artists were interested in its making its design, typography, printing, and final appearance.
Vincent Giroud, from Marinetti's Metal Book
CODE(x)+2 #2: Parole In Liberta Futuriste
by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti
The first two numbers in the second series of CODE(X) Monographs focus on Marinetti's Parole In Liberta Futuriste, one of the supreme artist books of the 20th Century. The first is an essay by Vincent Giroud, a noted authority on this particular book and Director of the Beinecke Library at Yale University when they acquired their copy. The second number is a photo-lithographic reproduction of the metal book itself and is presented here as illustration to accompany Giroud's thoughtful essay.
CODE(x)+1 #9: The Mechanical Word
by Karen Bleitz
The Mechanical Word is an extended essay on the eponymous five-volume artwork by the London-based artist Karen Bleitz, a founding member of the ARC collaborative that grew out of Ron King’s legendary Circle Press.
“Whenever asked to talk about The Mechanical Word I begin by saying, “The Mechanical Word is a series of books in which I constructed a mechanical language composed of cogs, cranks, levers and gears…” I have learned, however, that as soon as I say ‘mechanical language’ I am immediately bombarded with a thousand questions such as ‘What’s a mechanical language? What does it look like? How does it work? What is it for anyway?’… At the time the project began I had been looking at the various properties of language. I was particularly interested in its power to define, and through definition create the things, people, and events that take place in the world. In the hands of the media I could see that words had the power to turn a cloned sheep from a miracle, to a monster, and back into a miracle within the space of a page.”
CODE(x)+1 #10: This Is Not A Cathedral
by Monica Oppen
Australian artist and book collector Monica Oppen is the curator of her own private library of artist’s books. To quote the website: “The Bibliotheca Librorum apud Artificem is a private collection of books made by printmakers, photographers, photomonteurs, painters, writers and poets. The collection’s focus is on books made in Australia but also has works from overseas. Books of interest are actively sought and purchased. The Bibliotheca is in the Sydney suburb of Stanmore. It is held at a private house and may be viewed by appointment. Students are welcome.” This is not a Cathedral is a close up view of this unique collection from the founding ideals to the curatorial practice.
CODE(x)+1 #11: The Timeless Art Of Allowing Books To Thrive
by Robert Bringhurst
Poet and essayist Robert Bringhurst interrogates (posthumously) the Mexican writer Ulises Carrión by interleaving his responses to Carrión’s famous manifesto “The New Art of Making Books” in the form of a conversation. To quote Bringhurst in his introduction, “Carrión…was plainspoken and full of real ideas. My own predilections are different from his, and so we disagree on many fronts, yet he is lucid and articulate — and therefore someone I can talk to, dead or alive.”
CODE(x)+1 #12: The Universal Dream Library
by Alberto Manguel
“Karel Capek, in his wonderful book on gardens, says that the art of gardening can be reduced to one rule: you put into it more than you take out. The same can be said of the art of libraries. But the libraries of our material world, however great their hunger, can only hoard existing volumes. We know that every book holds within all its possible readings, past, present and future, but its Pythagorean reincarnations, those wonderful forms which depend on readers to come, will not be found on our shelves.”
CODE(x)+1 #13: Chasing the Ideal Book
by Carolee Campbell
"When I inaugurated Ninja Press in 1984 it never occurred to me that it would lead to the kind of investigative bookmaking that has become a steadfast companion in my approach to book design."
"The Real World of Manuel Córdova is a long, single poem by W.S. Merwin consisting of forty-three fourteen-line stanzas. Upon reading it for the first time I knew I wanted to spend deep time working on it. The poem evokes the very essence of the mythological journey; of going for and coming back changed. It is an arduous journey, both through time and through terrain. The poem also describes an interior journey into the dream world. I flooded myself with information because what poetry does not impart—is information. Poetry is a door to the ineffable. My job, however, was to make a container to hold that ineffability."
The Real World of Manuel Córdova is an iconic example of the contemporary book as a work of art. In the essay Chasing the Ideal Book Carolee Campbell reveals her methodical and brilliant approach to investigative book making.
CODE(x)+1 #14: Lines of Force: The Hand, The Book, & The Body Electric
by Betty Bright
"Historians love pivot points, those times when energies converge and the future can unfold in strikingly different directions. Life seems so unknowable and chaotic on the near side of a shift, and then, ten years on, events seem to have aligned into the only possible outcome. I believe that the book arts are, once again, at such a pivot point: previous ones being in the 1960s and the 1980s. Here is the good news: there is no question that in the past thirty years, the book arts (and in particular, letterpress printing) have expanded and matured light years beyond my imaginings when I joined the field in 1984."
CODE(x)+1 #15: Between Drawing and Printing
by Johannes Strugalla
Artist, poet, and printer Johannes Strugalla writes about his bilingual typographic oddyssey and what it means to be an artist engagée. “As a human and an artist, I live with my eyes and my ears wide open in light of the distress and the horrible things happening in the world, but also for the colors and the beauty of life. All these feelings and emotions enter in my poems and in my artwork even when it is abstract. I need this labor for the health of my mind. It becomes a transcendental moment I can share through my work. It is possible to feel an ecstasy you are unable to find in the everyday life. The more the social and political events are cruel and detestable, the more all human beings need to be elevated by spiritual and esthetic values - they need the tonic against melancholy given by the Arts and the creativity against the spirit of death and destruction — I want to be a contributor to this.”