Now Leaves

Michael Dean, 2015

Published by Book Works and Wysing Arts Centre.

16,8 x 12 cm
640 pages.
ISBN: 9781906012717
Now Leaves presents itself as a block. Physically it adopts the scale of a human hand, its weight present, its structure flexible, almost human. The pages fall loosely apart to reveal dense black graphics – letters shaped as tongues, twisted to form barely legible words. Each page inscribed, playing on repetition, the word ‘leaves’ repeatedly tongued. The successive pages form statements, occasionally benign – it starts LEAVES FOR LEAVES – but as the pages turn a more visceral violence exudes from the pages – SLAVE LEAVES HAPPY LEAVES, FUCKING LEAVES LOST LEAVES KILL LEAVES, BLOODY LEAVES POSITION LEAVES. Whilst visually arresting, the experience of reading Dean’s book reduces reading to the physical intimacy of your own mouth; as you to attempt to read the barely decipherable words to take pleasure in the babble, you feel your eyes contort as your own tongue does trying to shape the words, tempted to twist, stretch or replicate the graphic tonguing on the page.

Dean’s work is often concerned with the play of legibility through the creation of private lexicons. The relation between spoken word performance and its graphic representation, often in the form of private, personal and self-made typefaces, is one key to his work. The otherwise mute objects are inscribed, via clues, or fragments of lettering, with a personalised form of writing, which gives the opportunity of animating the artwork. Here the book operates as a form of sculpture, inscribed with both a personal and bodily form, to be read, spoken or carefully deciphered.