Think you can improve the book? (Part 3) by Abra Ancliffe

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Buried in the last paragraph of the introduction of “Short Story Collections by Jorge Luis Borges” by BOOKS LLC is this awkward and intriguing question: Think you can improve the book? Think you can improve the book? by Abra Ancliffe takes on this question in earnest by exploring the production of meaning through means of production. At the heart of the project are the gains and losses inherent in the transmission of knowledge to information to data and language to text to hypertext. It searches for the soul of a specific book by engaging digital and physical production and means of access. Abra tells us, "My approach was to consider why letterpress is necessary to use in exploring an artistic question, beyond its aesthetic virtues and seductive appeal.  What does it mean?  What is it an index for?  How are its history and physical attributes "read" by a viewer to strengthen an idea?  In doing so, other media & processes emerged to round out the investigation." There are three components to the project, the heart of which is a 24-page letterpress printed book that is a recreation of a book published by BOOKS LLC – ( which is selling print-on-demand compilations of Wikipedia pages. This absurd notion belies the serious questions of where and how we receive our "information." When searching for the books of Borges, how is it that we get this? Borges and his writings being the subject of the book also bolster the threads of multiplicity, authenticity, authorship, and the conundrum of printed matter. Accompanying the book are two photographic c-prints and a stack of digitally printed posters.  See Part 1, the book here; Part 2, the c-prints here; and Part 3, the poster here.  

Artist Bio

Abra Ancliffe engages printmaking and drawing to explore the fixity & frailty of language alongside how printed knowledge is created, stored & accessed. In 2009, she started the Personal Libraries Library, a specially-curated lending library in Portland, Oregon that recreates & reconsiders the personal libraries of notable artists, scientists, writers, and thinkers. Ancliffe received her BA in English Literature from Lewis & Clark College (1998), her BFA in Printmaking from PNCA (2003) and her MFA in Printmaking from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia (2005). Her print-works and drawings have been exhibited nationally and internationally, including at galleryHOMELAND (Portland, OR), Beppu Wiarda (Portland, OR), snowflake (St. Louis, MO), Harwood Art Center (Albuquerque, NM), Tækniminjasafn (Seyðisfjörður, Iceland), and Kasteel Le Paige (Herentals, Belgium). She has been awarded multiple residencies, most notably at Skaftfell Center for Visual Arts in Seyðisfjörður, Iceland and at Frans Masereel Centrum in Kasterlee, Belgium. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Printmaking at PNCA.