Andrew McLaren


CAAF Residency st[art]@Art Central, September – November 2009




A significant element of my practice involves book production; I have made several small editions (in 100-200 copies) since 2001. The most recent of these are hand-assembled, cerlox-bound volumes which include laminated, collaged and variably printed pages. In contrast to the largely linear production typical of conventional publishing, these books are typically produced in staggered phases of design and output.

In Annual Report (2006) and Approx. DCLXVI (2008), laminated material, carbon paper transfers and other variable elements (e.g. playing cards, cancelled postage stamps, product labels) are hand-compiled; the productive variations are important, exemplifying a kind of inconsistency, which speaks to the variable readings, by different readers, in the face of the document. This is intended, to categorically impede ideas of ‘Universal’ interpretation: the imprecision of calendar systems (in Annual Report) and the many presumptive (or possible!) ‘implications’ of apocryphal text (in Approx. DCLXVI) are addressed, variably, through the particularity of included elements in these books.

I am currently writing and making preparatory work toward production of the sequel to Approx DCLXVI, for which the working title is DCLXVI. This struck-through title is partly in homage to Martin Heidegger’s notation, Being, which stands as a mark of deconstruction (particularly applied to Ontology) in his philosophy. As with the previous Approx DCLXVI, the book addresses the ‘Number of the Beast,’ and employs similar strategies. With more emphasis on deconstructing the leitmotif of the beastly number, and less upon 666’s many geometric-constructive possibilities (there are many), DCLXVI is at once a more critical and less restrictive project than its predecessor.

My intention, and challenge, is to maintain the play between critical and creative work in written and fabricated elements in this book. Thematically, the overriding psychological tendency addressed is apophenia, the projection of significant meaning onto ‘things out there’ that seem to portend omens or such. There is considerable interpretive latitude in this approach, when exercised in creative and critical practice. A certain balance of parody and subversive or transgressive themes are characteristic of the horror and pulp genres that typically dwell upon the number 666; these tendencies are present as appropriate in DCLXVI, while also substantiating the spectre of ‘bad art.’ While doing this project to the best of my abilities, it engages at speculative play with value- based ideas. The nuances of ‘bad style’ and limitless possibilities that might be understood in ‘a bad thing, badly done,’ are an appropriate corollary to the idealism which projects, in the tendency of apophenia, a ‘higher’ or ‘hidden’ significance within otherwise arbitrary things and situations. It is not a work that is meant to instill hostility or negativity in the sense that the theme might suggest; absurdity is more prevalent here.

I have over 90 pages of text and some laminates (about ¼ of the planned amount) composed at this point. This book is being produced in a larger edition size, though with somewhat less material per book, than my previous hand-fabricated editions. Other aspects of production are being undertaken at A/P studios in Inglewood (letterpress, screen printing on the cover); I feel very strongly that the quality of my work has improved with productive experience, and the opportunity to finish this project and to launch the book late this autumn would be timely. I need a dedicated block of time in a studio, to pull this together. This residency would afford my project a unique public exposure during the very open-format final design and output process for my book. I am certain that this residency will bring together some interesting dialogue, which would also reflect in some aspects of the book’s resolution into a final state. I am hoping for a Halloween-season book launch. This book will be distributed internationally.