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Book art and the representation and communication of original sources

  • Robert B. Riter (a1)


Works of book art can express archival and documentary values. Book artists whose work is informed by archival and documentary evidence contribute to the wider dissemination of original sources. In supporting this function, their generative practices can be viewed as curatorial and editorial functions. How does archivally informed book art represent and communicate evidence? How can these sources operate as documentary sources? This essay offers a discussion of these questions.



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1. An overview of this history can be found in: Binkley, Robert C., Manual on Methods of Reproducing Research Materials: A Survey Made for the Joint Committee on Materials for Research of the Social Science Research Council and the American Council of Learned Societies (Ann Arbor, Michigan: Edwards Brothers, Inc., 1936); Kline, Mary-Jo and Perdue, Susan Holbrook, A Guide to Documentary Editing (Charlottesville, Virginia: University of Virginia Press, 2008); Punzalan, Ricardo L., “Understanding Virtual Reunification,” The Library Quarterly Vol. 84, no. 3 (2014): 294323; Gitelman, Lisa, Paper Knowledge: Toward a Media History of Documents (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2014): 83111.

2. Professor Conway's argument is offered in reference to digital archival surrogates, but his argument can also be applied to representations communicated through book art. Conway, Paul, “Digital Transformations and the Archival Nature of Surrogates,” Archival Science 15, no. 1 (2014): 52.

3. Professor Johanna Drucker identities multiple categories of archival reproduction by book artists. These include the presentation of authentic records, fictional records, and facsimiles that preserve the physical characteristics of the originating forms. Drucker, Johanna, The Century of Artists’ Books (New York: Granary Books, 2004): 343351.

4. Cox, Richard J., Managing Records as Evidence and Information (Westport, Connecticut: Quorum Books, 2001), 3134; Andrea Kohashi, “The Book Artist and the Archivist: A Shared Perspective,” Archive Journal (December 2015) Issue 5,; Schellenberg, T.R., Modern Archives: Principles and Techniques (Chicago: The Society of American Archivists, 2003), 1516.

5. Lefèvre, Pascal, “Some Medium-Specific Qualities of Graphic Sequences,” SubStance 40, no. 1 (2011): 1; Ham, Gerald F., “Archival Choices: Managing the Historical Record in an Age of Abundance,” The American Archivist 47, no. 1 (1984): 1516.

6. Andrea Kohashi, “Book Artist,” paragraph 5; Amanda Catherine Roth Clark, “The Handmade Artists’ Book: Space, Materiality, and the Dynamics of Communication in Book Arts,” (PhD diss., The University of Alabama, 2013), 184,

7. Clark, “Handmade,” 209.

8. O'Toole, James M. and Cox, Richard J., Understanding Archives & Manuscripts (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2006), 87111.

9. Kline and Perdue, Guide, 1–4; Massey, Gregory D., “The Papers of Henry Laurens and Modern Historical Documentary Editing,” The Public Historian 27, no. 1 (2005): 3941.

10. “About Documentary Editing,” Association for Documentary Editing, accessed April 21, 2018,

11. The books discussed in this essay include: White, Sara E., RIVERINE (Tallahassee, Florida: Alluvium Press, 2016); Davenport, Christopher, CUPFUL/paper (Tuscaloosa, Alabama: Pocket Knife Press, 2014); Davenport, Christopher, Cupful/photographs (Tuscaloosa, Alabama: Pocket Knife Press, 2014); Hanmer, Karen, Franklin Fatigue: Reflections on life, liberty, fortune, and romance by America's founding father and Philadelphia's favorite son (Glenview, Illinois: Karen Hanmer, 2009).

12. Foster, Hal, “An Archival Impulse,” October 110 (Fall 2004), 34; Carbone, Kathy Michelle, “Artists and records: moving history and memory,” Archives and Records vol. 38, no. 1 (2017), 100; Chapelle, Duncan, “Typologising the Artist's Book,” Art Libraries Journal 28, no. 4 (2003), 1, 3.

13. Carbone, “Moving,” 100, 112; Hawkins, Harriet, “Creative geographic methods: knowing, representing, intervening. On composing place and page.cultural geographies 22, no. 2 (2015): 259261.

14. Sara E. White's RIVERINE is examined as a presentation of community records and memory; Christopher Davenport's CUPFUL/paper is examined as a presentation of environmental records and data; Karen Hanmer's Franklin Fatigue is examined as a presentation of historical records and artifacts.

15. Chapelle, “Typologising,” 1, 3; Burkhart, “Mongrel Nature” 253.

16. Foster, “Impulse,” 3–4; Carbone, “Moving,” 100–102, 112.

17. Foster, “Impulse,” 4.

18. Foster, “Impulse,” 5.

19. Carbone, “Artists,” 100.

20. Drucker, Century, 343–351.

21. Carbone, “Artists,” 100, 112; Foster, “Impulse,” 3–4; Clark, “Handmade,” 100.

22. Drucker, Johanna, “Critical Issues/Exemplary Works,” The Bonefolder vol. 1, no. 2 (Spring 2005), 56; Simon, John Y., “Editorial Projects as Derivative Archives,” College & Research Libraries vol. 35, no. 4 (July 1974): 291294.

23. Suzy, TarabaNow What Should We Do With Them?: Artists’ Books in the Curriculum,” RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage 4, no. 2 (2003): 115116.

24. Chemero, Andrea, Seigel, Caroline, and Wilson, Tenie, “How Libraries Collect and Handle Artists' Books,” Art Documentation: Journal of the Art Libraries Society of North America 19, no. 1 (2000): 22.

25. Drucker, “Exemplary Works,” 5–6; Clark, “Handmade,” 232–233.

26. Horowitz, Risa, “Introduction: As if from nowhere…artists’ thoughts about research-creation,” RACAR: revue d'art Canadienne / Canadian Art Review, vol. 39, no. 1 (2014): 25.

27. Additional information regarding their work can be found on their artist websites: Pocket Knife Press [Christopher Davenport], “Pocket Knife Press,” accessed on April 21, 2018,; Alluvium Press [Sara E. White], “Alluvium Press,” accessed on April 21, 2018.,; Karen Hanmer, “Karen Hanmer,” accessed on April 21, 2018,

28. Davenport's description of CUPFUL/paper can be found at: Pocket Knife Press (Christopher Davenport), “CUPFUL/paper,” accessed on April 21, 2018, His description of Cupful/photographs can be found at: Pocket Knife Press (Christopher Davenport), “Cupful/photographs,” access on April 21, 2018,

29. Pocket Knife Press (Christopher Davenport), “CUPFUL/paper,” website.

30. Camden M. Richards, “Landscape & Memory: The Untapped Power of Artists' Books to Effect Social Change,” (PhD dissertation, Corcoran College of Art + Design, 2011), 2-3, 24, 26-27,

31. Pocket Knife Press (Christopher Davenport), “About,” accessed on April 21, 2018,

32. Pocket Knife Press (Christopher Davenport), “CUPFUL/photographs,” website; Camden, “Landscape,” 9.

33. Davenport, CUPFUL/paper, last sheet [gray].

34. Pocket Knife Press (Christopher Davenport), “About,” website.

35. Vamp & Tramp Booksellers, LLC, “Pocket Knife Press,” CUPFUL/paper, Catalog Entry, Accessed on April 21, 2018,

36. The description of the water collection/papermaking sites is located in the inside back cover of CUPFUL/paper: Davenport, CUPFUL/paper, inside back cover.

37. Pocket Knife Press (Christopher Davenport), “Cupful/photographs,” website.

38. Quotation from Davenport's artist statement: Vamp & Tramp Booksellers, LLC, “Pocket Knife Press,” CUPFUL/paper, Catalog Entry, Accessed on April 21, 2018,

39. Barnes, Alison, “Geo/graphic design: the liminal space of the page,” Geographical Review 103, no. 2 (2013): 164165; Clark, “Handmade,” 18, 204, 185, 184; Richards, “Landscape,” 24, 26–27, 35.

40. Camden, “Landscape,” 9; Oliver, Gillian, Kim, Yunhyong, and Ross, Seamus, “Documentary genre and digital recordkeeping: red herring or a way forward?Archival Science 8, no. 4 (2008): 296297; Stradling, David and Stradling, Richard, Where the River Burned: Carl Stokes and the Struggle to Save Cleveland (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 2015): 1718.

41. Examples of these sources include: “Black Warrior River,” American Rivers, accessed April 21, 2018,; “Issues,” Black Warrior Riverkeeper, accessed April 21, 2018,; and Johnson, Gregory C., Kidd, Robert E., Journey, Celeste A., Zappia, Humbert, and Atkins, J. Brian, “Environmental setting and water-quality issues of the Mobile River basin, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee,” US Geological Survey National Water-Quality Assessment Program, Water-Resources Investigations Report (2002): 13, 21, 26, 29, 45, 46–47, 5962.

42. Karen Hanmer, “Franklin Fatigue,” accessed April 21, 2018,; Hanmer, Karen, Franklin Fatigue: reflections on life, liberty, fortune, and romance by America's founding father and Philadelphia's favorite son (Glenview, Illinois: Karen Hanmer, 2009).

43. Hanmer, “Franklin Fatigue,” website.

44. Portraits of Franklin included on the cover and page illustrations are by Henry Maron, and are courtesy of the Library of Congress: Hanmer, Franklin Fatigue, inside front cover, colophon. The printed artifacts presented in the work are derived from digital surrogates contained in the Library of Congress’ Prints & Photographs Online Catalog, Hanmer, Franklin Fatigue, colophon.

45. The most comprehensive documentary edition of Franklin materials is the Papers of Benjamin Franklin (Yale University Press). This edition is published in print, and is also available electronically through Yale University Press's digital edition ( and the National Archives’ Founders Online project (

46. Simon, “Derivative,” 294.

47. MacNeil, Heather, “Trust and professional identity: narratives, counter-narratives and lingering ambiguities,” Archival Science 11 (2011), 183184.

48. Hanmer, Franklin Fatigue, title page [recto and verso]; Kline and Perdue, Guide, 38–40. Hanmer's introductory note serves as an editorial statement, commenting on the themes and intentions that influenced the selection of source material.

49. Vamp & Tramp Booksellers, LLC, “Sara E. White,” RIVERINE, Artist Statement, Online Catalog Entry, Accessed on April 21, 2018

50. Chaffin, Frank V., “Dwelling and Rhythm: The Isle Brevelle as a Landscape of Home,” Landscape Journal 7, no. 2 (1988): 96–106; Houck, Oliver A., Down on the Batture (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2010): 24.

51. Vamp & Tramp Booksellers, LLC, “Sara E. White,” RIVERINE, Online Catalog Entry.

52. Mosely, Tim, “The Haptic and the Emerging Critical Discourse on Artists Books,” Journal of Artists Books 39 (2016): 3738.

53. Bastian, Jeannette A., “The records of memory, the archives of identity: celebrations, texts and archival sensibilities,” Archival science vol. 13, no. 2–3 (2013): 127129.

54. Vamp & Tramp Booksellers, LLC, “Sara White,” RIVERINE, Online Catalog Entry.

55. Cox, Richard J., Documenting Localities (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2001), 4648. As an archivally informed object, White's book is a community-supported work, and contains community archival documentation. There are parallels between White's work and community and community supported archival initiatives; see: Flinn, Andrew, “Community histories, community archives: some opportunities and challenges,” Journal of the Society of Archivists 28, no. 2 (2007): 151176.

56. White, RIVERINE, inside front cover of chemise.

57. The records included in RIVERINE originate from the Batture Dwellers Association Records 1949 to 1958, housed in Tulane University's Howard-Tilton Memorial Library Special Collections: White, RIVERINE, inside front cover of chemise.

58. Drucker, Johanna, “Graphic Devices: Narration and Navigation,” Narrative 16, no. 2 (2008): 121–22.

59. MacNeil, Heather, “Picking Our Text: Archival Description, Authenticity, and the Archivist as Editor,” The American Archivist 68, no. 2 (2005): 268271.

60. Kohashi, “Book Artist,” paragraphs 2–4; Clark, “Handmade,” 204.

61. Conway, “Surrogates,” 8; Foster, “Impulse,” 6; Richards, “Landscape,” 22, 35.

62. Reese, Harry, “The Tactility of Artists’ Books,” in Making Artist Books Today: A Workshop in Poestenkill, New York, August 18th-23rd, 1997, ed. von Lucius, Wulf D. and Kaldewey, Gunnar A. (Stuttgart: Lucius & Lucius, 1998), 2930.

63. The works created by Davenport, Hanmer, and White function as responses to alternative archival/communication structures, as articulated by Professor Bowker; see: Bowker, Geoffrey C., “The Archive,” Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies vol. 7, no. 2 (June 2010): 212214.

64. Foster, “Impulse,” 4; Reese, “Tactility,” 29-30; Clark, “Handmade,” 176.

65. Kohashi, “Book Artist,” paragraph 9.

Book art and the representation and communication of original sources

  • Robert B. Riter (a1)


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