After is about the life of the book in the digital age and the transitory nature of all things. It’s structured in two sections using a dos-a-dos binding. The first section features photos of ghostly afterimages left behind on the glassine sheets protecting plates in a 1929 art history catalog. The real world intrudes at the end of the first section when a thumb appears in the image. As the reader flips to the second side of the dos-a-dos, the imagery pivots to include afterimages of different kinds from the outside world.
The text in the book is a blackout poem I created using a sequence of poems by 15th-century Japanese Zen monk Ikkyu as the source text. The original sequence – titled Skeletons – is an extended exploration of the same transitory theme as After. I letterpress printed the Ikkyu poems in their entirety from polymer plates before creating the new, book-length blackout poem by brushing over certain words with a combination of sumi ink and gold calligraphy ink.
The English version of Skeletons is a translation by the great John Stevens, from Wild ways: Zen poems (Buffalo, NY: White Pine Press, 2003), used with the generous permission of the publisher. The book that I photographed the afterimages of artworks from is A catalogue of paintings in the collection of Jules S. Bache (New York: privately printed, 1929).
I composed the blackout poem as an 'intentional' poem, but I use chance methods to determine which color ink to use when brushing words out: black or gold. For that, I use a printed sheet of randomized numbers between 1-4 that was created by John Cage and my mentor Stephen Addiss for a project they did together in the 1990’s. The numbers determine how many words I black out in one color before switching to the other. Each copy of the book has a different pattern of blackout coloration.
2018 10.25” x 8.25” 24 pp. Hardcover dos-a-dos edition of 25 + 5 a.p. $475
Sierra Suite is a chapbook of "found oral" poems I composed during a training session at the library where I work. We were being trained to use a new software called Sierra, and I was struck by how much of the presenter's language was about authority and control, who grants you the rights to do things in a digital environment, and how we present ourselves more generally. Taken out of context, her words resonated with me.
I hand set the poems for this edition of Sierra Suite in metal type and printed it on a Vandercook SP-15 proof press. The covers are also letterpress-printed, featuring a relief print from a carved piece of Davey book board. While this is a straightforward poetry chapbook, I consider it an artist's book project because I intend to produce other editions of the poems in radically different formats, as an exploration of how different physical presentations of identical poems can affect their reading and reception.
Sierra Suite is my first letterpress-printed book, completed as the final project for a letterpress course I took in Spring 2017 with Beth Grabowski at UNC-Chapel Hill.
2017 5.5” x 6” 24 pp. two-sewn-as-one pamphlet binding edition of 10 $45
names name no lasting name
names name no lasting name is a one-of-a-kind artist's book exploring the Taoist idea of the slipperiness of language, which informs a lot of my work. Each page-spread features a word in large brush calligraphy on the verso page, which I've burned away with an incense stick. The recto of each spread is a thick sumi ink wash, with flecks of gold ink handpainted to fill in the white gaps in the brush strokes. Each page also features a hidden printed image, nested inside the french-folded paper.
The theme of the inadequacy of language and its willful misuse seems to become more vital every day. To get a randomized cross section of words that were in the air when I was creating the book, I selected one word for each page by taking the first noun from a sequence of reader comments on the New York Times website. I created the hidden prints by doing a Google image search on each of the words, downloading the first result, and digitally manipulating it into a new image and print. Parts of the prints show through on each page where the words have been burned away.
2016 13” x 16.25” 8 pp. Brush calligraphy and sumi ink wash with gold ink detail, on heavy mulberry paper $620
we had something is a unique artist's book featuring text in brush calligraphy on a semi-translucent washi paper:
"we had / something / beautiful / and we / still do / don't we?"
Nested inside the folded, double leaves of each page is an obscured image. Each recto image is a Google Maps screen capture of the site of a major environmental catastrophe, manipulated in Photoshop to create a full-bleed abstract image in unnatural colors: pictured sites include Three Mile Island; Picher, Oklahoma; Bhopal, India, and others. Each verso image is a smaller, casual snapshot of some minor natural beauty. I burned the pages with a soldering iron, each page featuring one more burn than the previous one had.
When I originally formulated the text, I thought the book would be a broad, ironic look at the universal human tendency toward nostalgia. Instead, it became a more pointed record of amassed environmental degradation.
2016 11” x 13” 14 pp. stab binding brush calligraphy with inkjet printed images and burn marks unique book
heart sutra, remix
heart sutra, remix is a handmade, accordion-fold artist's book inspired by one of the central texts of Mahayana Buddhism. It features digital collage and a poem presented in brush calligraphy. Each copy is inkjet printed, finished with unique burns through the pages, allowing it to fit snugly into a reused cassette case.
I composed the text for "heart sutra, remix" almost 20 years ago as an oral poem when I was first learning about the Heart Sutra. For this edition, I performed the calligraphy for each page spread ten times. After finishing the calligraphy, I scanned my favorite version of each page spread and used it as the basis for the digital collages printed in the final book.
My poem and this book aren't meant to be a commentary or an expansion on the Heart Sutra, but rather an homage, an example of the long history of chanting and copying it in calligraphy as a devotional act.
2015 3" x 4" (24" x 4" when open) 16 pp. accordion fold edition of 75 $45
Dr. Mr. Miracles’s Vocabulary Guide for the Perplexed Miraclist
A follow-up to his Guide to Miracle-Making, Doctor Mister Miracles’s Vocabulary Guide for the Perplexed Miraclist is a book-long riff on a line from the Tao Te Ching: “Names can name no lasting name.” As a sometime Taoist and an all-the-time verbalist, I can’t stop thinking about that line.
The book is introduced as “A Glossary of Seventeen Terms Compiled to Vivify Your Miracle Practice.” At first it seems straightforward. Real-world sacred terms (“caritas,” “paramita”) mingle with new words to describe ideas that could benefit the world (“humilitocracy”). But as the book goes on, the system breaks down — terms grow more opaque, words are burned away on the page, and disturbing images start to invade.
As with its contents, nothing about the book is what it seems. What looks like a stack of smudged index cards rubber-banded together is actually a painstakingly printed, hand-bound book, its sacred aspirations muddied by the inability of words to name a lasting name.
2014 4” x 6” 48 pp. hidden side sewing inkjet printed ed. of 100 $35
Each book in the I Ching series is an expressionistic response to one of the sixty-four entries of the ancient Chinese wisdom book. The sumi-e painting that I created for I Ching #3: ‘Difficulty’ includes heavy washes, accents drawn directly with a wet ink stick, and a circle drawn with the red wax that’s usually reserved for signature seal stamps in traditional sumi-e and calligraphy.
This open edition features a scan of the original painting, inkjet-printed. I finish each copy by burning the hexagram symbol for entry #3 on the front cover with a soldering iron, and adding unique burn marks with matches.
2013 5.25" x 7" 4 pp. accordion fold open edition $90
Each book in the I Ching series is an expressionistic response to one of the sixty-four entries of the ancient Chinese wisdom book. The image for I Ching #64: ‘Unfinished’ is a play on a painting by Japanese Zen artist Sengai, called ‘Circle, Triangle, and Square,” which in turn was the inspiration for a Robert Motherwell monoprint in the 1980s.
Alternative interpretations of the hexagram include 'Not yet forded,' and 'Before completion.' It can be read as an encouraging sign that the successful achievement of a goal is in sight, or alternatively as a warning not to lose focus when something is nearly finished - perseverance is needed to see it through successfully to the end."
This open edition features a scan of the original painting, inkjet-printed. Each copy features unique burn and smoke marks.
2013 5.25” x 7” 4 pp. accordion fold inkjet printed, with unique burn and smoke markings open edition $90
Dr. Mr. Miracles’s Guide to Miracle-Making: A Manual (Abridged)
Dr. Mr. Miracles is a blank-slate superhero/saint/devil with unlimited potential and good will, and a tendency to get bogged down in mischief.
The original ‘edition’ of Doctor Mister Miracles’s Guide to Miracle-Making consisted of five similar but unique copies that I created by altering pages from a set of acupuncture manuals. My alterations include drawings and rubber-stamped text purporting to be a translation of the original Chinese into the occult, angelic language Enochian, and then from Enochian into English. On the surface, the manual gives advice on finding your ideal miracle stance, keeping your miracle centers unclogged, and other keys of miracle performance. At the same time it plays with ideas about the limits of translation and cultural appropriation.
The present edition of 100 copies was commercially printed from scans of my favorite version of each page.
2013 5.5” x 8.5” 20 pp. saddle-stapled ed. of 100 $16
Googled English Frontier Star features thirty combinations of words that, at the time, brought back zero Google search results. I used Scrabble rules when creating the word combinations: no proper nouns, no foreign words that were not also commonly used in English, and no consulting a dictionary. I printed the resulting phrases with hand-set rubber-stamp type on a variety of decorative papers, and bound them onto a central cylinder using a binding structure that I invented for the project.
The structure consists of five signatures sewn onto a steel can with a single, continuous thread. The star shape represents the sublime, cosmic proportions the internet has reached—almost infinite and still expanding.
2008 4.25” x 3.25” x 25” (open) 30 pp. cylinder binding rubber-stamp type ed. of 5