Lin Charlston

'reductio ad absurdum'


My obsession with notebooks reaches back further than I can remember. Some years ago my attention was drawn to the potential of notebooks (particularly scientists' notebooks) as an inspiration for making artist's books. I have visited collections and jotted 'notes on notebooks' on various pads, scraps of paper and in yet more notebooks. Transforming these observations into the substance of my work has convinced me that the freedom of the artist's book provides a unique opportunity to accommodate, to preserve and even to celebrate the original moment of writing, the quirkiness of composition, the authenticity of rambling thought processes, the palpable, primary, hand-written evidence of the time, the place and the writer.

The artist's book 'reductio ad absurdum' is a facsimile of my improvised writing on the nature of time. I begin with the assertion that time is the only reality, but the argument develops into a personal response to the tyranny of mechanical time and concludes that the constraints of time are an illusion. The notes have not been edited or changed but are merely replicated and bound into a pocket notebook format.

There are many ways in which the poetry of a notebook can be re-created in an artist's book. The essence is not simply in the words or the layout of the text. The vade mecum is a companion who shares the privacy of composition: the events and landscape of the moment of inscription; the stains, lacerations and impression of the pen; the memory and evidence of the effort to orchestrate language, of each mistake and change of mind; the touch and smell; the size, shape, weight, sound and recollection of the fit in the hand...

In 'reductio ad absurdum' I have included non-linguistic features observed in other notebooks such as leaving the verso of the pages blank for later use, cut-away pages and further entries starting from the back page. The cover is a faux-leather wrap treated with a warm-smelling wax polish and held with elastic which has been visibly stitched into a loop. The size of the handwriting has been absurdly reduced to hinder legibility as a reminder that the notes are essentially personal thoughts and not primarily intended for an audience to read.

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Since completing the MA Book Arts in 2000 at Camberwell College of Arts, Lin Charlston has been developing an interdisciplinary approach to book art. She draws strongly on her background in science research and education, putting scientific method (observing, measuring, recording, predicting, hypothesising, testing and making the intuitive leap) into new, unexpected and sometimes subversive contexts. Using a combination of digital and traditional printing techniques, her book-works often mimic or allude to scientists' notebooks and textbooks.

She is one of the founding members of 'FACTION' an exhibiting group of three women book artists. Visit their website

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