Stephen Fowler’s piece in Letter Rip! features bizarre books from the Charles C. Thomas publishing house.
LETTER RIP! ART, WORDS AND TORONTO at Onsite [at] OCAD University (230 Richmond West), to October 6. 416-977-6000. See listing. Rating: NNNN
Curator Charles Reeves brings the work of Andy Callahan, Hyang Cho, Michelle Gay, Gary Taxali and Stephen Fowler together in Ocad U's summer-fall show where arts and letters meet.
Design and illustration superstar Taxali's work has always been at the intersection of text and image, fusing graphic elements and signage into a unique amalgam of vintage and contemporary. Here he contributes some of his rarer illustration work.
Andy Callahan's Books By Covers series basically turns the writing process inside out. After designing a series of book jackets that assemble tenuously related objects for hypothetical books, he asked authors to write "excerpts" inspired by them. They make an intriguing whimsical loop between fantasy cover and fantasy text.
Some books in the show make you wonder if you might be seeing things. Stephen Fowler, the proprietor of the Monkey's Paw bookstore on Dundas West, has set up a large centrepiece collection of esoteric publications from the press of Charles C. Thomas, which specializes in forensics, criminology and behavioural science.
Fowler has an unerring eye for the bizarre, and his years of patient collecting have unearthed rare volumes such as The Psychology Of Strange Killers, The Hirsute Female and Self Destruction. They all radiate an aura of lurid curiosity masked by officiously bland scientific jargon.
Other works deal with the conceptual ideas surrounding textuality. In The Rest Is Silence, Hyang Cho displays the multi-volume Works Of Spinoza, over which she rewrote every word with an HB pencil while recording her reading of the text on cassette tapes. This multilevel reading exposes several facets of interpretation, showing how time and sound memory are integral to the reading process.
In Spampoet, Gay projects two and half years' worth of spam messages onto the wall through a computational algorithm. The software generates random phrases of unique and inventive concrete poetry, sending up intentional language, media and meaning.