Jo howe book sculpture work in progress variation of surface intensity

Approach

Reading is an act of co-authorship. When you pick up a book and read it, what you bring to that process is your own personal history. This is the filter through which we perceive language and by which we forge connections. My use of the book as sculptural object playfully reworks its formal components allowing the ‘reader’ to experience something altogether new. I obstruct the original narrative in order to afford the reader of the artwork minimal linguistic stimulus. In essence this simplifies, clarifies and quietens interaction so that the reader’s response can be heard.

I select materials carefully by considering the aesthetic quality of text and relevance of the book’s title. Working with old manuscripts that bear the physical imperfections and aromas of past human handling and thus retain their human presence is essential. The book or page becomes a tool for looking inwards to our evolving personal narratives rather than the read contents of the book as text. I consciously work with the text to render it difficult to read, if not at times almost absent. The fragmentation, removal and disruption of text transforms words into visual clues. By resisting meaning in purely linguistic terms the reader is invited to respond at an intuitive and emotional level. In physically exploring text, removal of text, the page, book and restructured cover I seek to construct alternative narratives, which in turn generate new meaning.

Transaction and interaction contain the echoes of previous experience. This inevitably interferes with the reception of the other person’s voice and intention so that we hear through our own history.  My works explore a frustration in communication.  I seek to express the difficulty of speaking without being heard, to listen either actively or ineffectively. My books and their pages become a tangible expression of those sentences suppressed or left unsaid.