Last week the Australian Library of Art had the pleasure of hosting Tim Mosely’s exhibition re/membering touch: an anthology of artists books from silverwattle bookfoundry in the Fox Family White Gloves Room. The exhibited works were an exploration of ‘haptic touch’ which Tim has undertaken for his PhD, with the exhibition being reviewed by Australian and international examiners through out the week.
Tim has challenged our ‘protective librarian’ attitudes in experiencing and reading this collection of artist’s books. Each work beckons the reader to touch and explore the page with not only open eyes but also open ‘un-gloved’ hands. The work, the book of tears – one extends the challenge as the viewer is invited to tear a page in the book! Tim asserts that you haven’t really read the book if you do not tear a page. He has playfully added the surrounds of postage stamps for repairs in the back of the book and provided a clear plastic folder to collect any paper that is completely torn out.
A forty page catalogue and artist’s statement accompanied the exhibition, with the opening paragraph of his artist’s statement introducing his thesis:
‘Touch, the most complex of our senses, can be passive or active. Our touch of books is primarily passive, facilitating visual reading. Within the emerging field of haptic aesthetics, this passive act is termed ‘tactile touch’ and is performed by the hand in service of the visual and aural senses.
In counterpoint to this, the ‘haptic touch’ is active. As the quintessential relational sense, it moves over, across, and around surfaces, getting to know them intimately. In this anthology of artists books I have employed the haptic touch to convey content that the eye cannot sense.’
The relief prints for the anthology were made using twenty sheets of salvaged luan plywood. Luan ply is manufactured from rainforest timbers, often illegally and unethically logged within the Asia-Pacific rim. From the luan ply plates Tim has made over 2,000 prints which have been incorporated into the books and the ply recycled for covers of some works. A lusciously thick textured industrial felt is also used in the books adding to the tactile experience. Further textures are offered from Belgian linen used for binding and covers.
‘The island’ which folds out from the cover of ‘with a kiss’ illustrates the processes that Tim refers to in his artist’s statement:
‘The process involved collating, sequencing, altering, adding to, taking from, tearing, folding, feeling and binding, which involved a myriad of haptic touches both literal and metaphorical. Two specific concerns informed what was gathered: the rainforest and touch.’
The almost hidden text ‘split rock’ within the book relates directly to the sculptural component of the book.
Reading this exhibition solo, the viewer is not immediately aware of the many layers hidden in the books. While discussing the technical aspects of the books with Tim his referencing to the works of Caravaggio & Gioacchino Assereto was revealed. The series ‘the Sangre de Christo isles’: ‘given’, ‘with a kiss’ and ‘for given again’ contain direct references.
‘given’ references ‘Christ Healing the Blind Man’ by Gioacchino Assereto, while ‘with a kiss’ references ‘The Taking of Christ’ by Caravaggio and ‘for given again’ references ‘Doubting Thomas’ by Caravaggio.
re/membering touch was an exhibition which challenged the viewer and reader of the artist’s books displayed. However the success of the art work can only be judged by the desire to caress the books with both hands and eyes while searching for the many underlying meanings hidden in Tim’s exploration of ‘haptic touch’.