Les Bicknell

The visiting lecturer, Les Bicknell, brought a monster slide presentation. 146 slides in total. Professionally speaking (and I mean as an engineer) this is dangerous; in the investigation into the death of the crew of a Nimrod aircraft over Afghanistan, powerpoint overload was listed as a contributing factor. Show people too many slides and they will drift off and not pay the right level of attention. They will miss things. Now, I know there is a world of difference between aircraft safety and the arts - people don't usually die if you drift off during a presentation about art. I'll hold my hand up and admit that, on occasion during the 2 hours of Les' presentation, I did begin to drift off, thinking about how earlier slides might apply to me, reactions to this, that and the other. Les did keep bringing me back in though, so not too much of a problem I think.

The thrust of the presentation was twofold, both being related to research within your practice. On the one hand he gave some clues as to the nature of research: asking yourself questions such as "what do you like doing?" or "who is your audience?", your contextual framework, relationships to practice and the iterative ways of working that we will all go through, consciously or sub-consciously. On the other hand (the other "thrust") he also spoke about "bookness" and how that has worked itself into his practice.

Because I treat my art as a way of escaping from the regimental side of my work life, I do get deflated when I see art reduced to a process. Yes, I know that in reality we go through these processes, these iterations of the work before coming to the end product, seeing it described as a process is disheartening. Still, Les had some good ideas about working out what it is you do, and this is something I will have a go at these things soon (something for the Christmas break perhaps?).

Bookness is something else altogether.

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Bookness (From Les' slides)


This sounds fairly straightforward, there's hardbacks, paperbacks and even e-books... made of paper pages or similar, bound together in some way so that they are read sequentially. Actually, bookness doesn't really have much to do with that, well, it does as an absolute starting point, but it keeps on going beyond the logical and into the... realms of fantasy? The roof of a house has "bookness" in that the shape looks like the cover of a half open book

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Roof (from Les' slides)


If the roof is the book cover, then the walls, the bricks, the rooms are the pages, and yes, all will tell a story of some sort. Calling this "fantasy" is a bit harsh, there is some form of fantastical logic about his train of thought though, with ploughed fields displaying bookness (the furrows being like the pages of the book), or anything displaying text being akin to a book, or... or... or...... There were times when this was reigned in though, when comparing a sculpture to a book, he was told by it's creator it was a sculpture, not a book. You can't win them all...

Personally, this sort of thing isn't for me, although I do understand the nature of interconnectedness and relationships, etc. Of how one thing can lead to another. Having said that (and I do believe I'm too logical for it), I do like surrealism - am I actually to logical for that too? Whatever. I'm afraid I haven't taken a great deal from this one as for as bookness goes, although maybe the research section might prove to be of use once I get around to working through some of his questions to ask ourselves.

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