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AbaB

1984: edition of 50
343 x 235 mm; 68 concertina-folded pages

Formed from 17 joined sheets as one long strip, pasted onto heavy endboards of varnished wood, in a cloth slipcase. Silkscreened by Jim Birnie at Norwich School of Art on Heritage Rag acid-free paper.

I wrote and artworked the book in three parallel and overlapping lines that run its length disregarding the concertina folds. The centre line records a conversation that took place between 'A' and 'B'. It stands as a proposition for a piece of sculpture, and also floats whisky on 'an ocean made of paper'. The other two lines help or hinder the progress of this notion: all three lines are in expanded or condensed woodletter forms deployed to assist this book's stammering progress from left to right.

I had two cases of woodletter, of different printing heights: one Anglo-American, an extra fatfaced serif; the other Didot, a Continental sans serif, very condensed and beautiful. They were so different in their respective fatness and thinness that they represented the polar ends of type design. As an act of cussedness I thought to do a book that brings the two together and see what happens. A formal problem to run ragged the poetry to come. Then I thought of an ocean made of paper; 'think of an ocean, think of a notion'. The text followed a conversation between 'A' (me) and 'B' (Bruce Brown, in brown). We were discussing Borgesian convolutions. We began thus: A: 'Think of a sea.' B: 'You mean the letter?' A: 'No an ocean made of paper...' The conversation continued and I wrote it down. This was the first time I had generated text for a specific book. Up to that point the books had been slim volumes of verse attempting to break out of that mould.

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