Johanna Drucker's Artist Books
An online repository of facsimiles, metadata, and commentary



Project Statement

Quantum poetics became a topic of discussion between me and Jerry (McGann) in the summer of 2000 and into the fall in which this was made and written. The book was conceived as a field, a dynamic space, in which the reading intervened, as per the nature of intervention into quantum space. Half the vocabulary in this book belongs to those conversations, with layers of Robert Smithson's writings interwoven. The geologic temporalities that haunt his language echo through the natural sciences and physical sciences references, even as the work projects its own sparkling lightness and constellantionary properties. Mallarme, of course, is the other conspicuous reference in the design of the pages. I was writing the articles on books, page space and espace, and conjuring the patacricial demon during this time as well. These themes hover around the book, sometimes showing up as a ray of language, a linguistic echo, and other times hang suspended, just outside the pages, in the larger charged field.

Production Narrative

Difficulties occurred in calibrating the ink colors. The blues and greys seemed to jump range rather than be able to be fine tuned. Getting the colors right was almost a gambling game and little correspondence between what was on the screen and what came out on paper could be predicted. The slowness of printing was also a factor, and I'd leave the machine on overnight and then gather the pages in the morning.

Critical Analysis

Design Features

typographic: Garamond? I think so. A delicate transitional face, meant to be humanistic in association, aesthetic rather than utilitarian, gentle rather than aggressive, receptive rather than bold. Multiple sizes of the same font, some kerning at the larger sizes, particularly when all caps are used.

graphical: The zones in the layout are important semantic features as well as design elements. The idea was that the text moves away towards the past (above) and towards the future (below) and that the page is a screen of activity and projection. The translation into an animated version was to emphasize this effect.

openings: Verso only used, so the openings are meant to convey a sense of a single space occupied through sequential moments in time.

turnings: As snaphots, punctuating the sequence of verbal moments and events.

development: Typeface increases in size as the resolution of the text occurs.

sequence: Connections among the zones, and the sense that the texts connect, page by page, within the quadrants and across the horizon.

scultpural features: none

temporal features: Time of telling and the times told are in dialogue.

Critical Discussion

A book about temporality and quantum effects, mysterious influences at a distance, but also, the precipitated residue into material that can be sliced, analyzed, like geological formations: these are the themes of the work. The piece was made when our quantum discussions were peaking in SpecLab, and JJM and I were inspired by the imaginative possibilities of quantum thought and approaches.

Detailed Analysis

The final page works well to show the relation of the design and the themes. "MYTHIC ORIGINS" and "THAT WAS YESTERDAY" hold the upper corners. "WAVES / harbingers of a higher order / and / possibile outcomes / of" occupy the lower quadrants, suggestive of future activity. The text remains open. The mid-line horizon text ends with "Here (where the universe begins and ends) is where it stops." The "it" being referred to is the book's own compositional demonstration of "quantum" poetics.

General Comments

A work of profound affection.



Johanna Drucker

type: initiating


Publication Information

publisher: Druckwerk

production: 2000-01-15 Fall and winter 2000

publication history: Only one, small edition of this work was produced.

Aesthetic Profile

concrete poetry (AAT)

concrete poetry (LCSH)

themes: temporality, physics, geology

content form:
experimental text (local) visual poetry

publication tradition:
artists' book (local)
visual poetry (local)

inspiration: Mallarmé, Smithson, thoughts on temporality and geology

related works: Un Coup de Des (for constellationary space), A Current Line (for its spatialization)

other influences: Discussions of quantum with JJM

community: other SpecLab

Related Documents

manuscript type: mockups

location: artist's archive

manuscript type: texts

location: artist's archive

manuscript type: correspondence

location: other Artist's archives.

note: Should be something from Lyle Tuttle somewhere about the Drawing Center reading.

General Comments

Conceived as a work that would be animated and dynamic, executed as slides that faded in and out for illusion of movement, and then made into a book in a limited edition.


Publication Information

edition type: editioned

publisher: Druckwerk

place: Charlottesville, VA, actually in my Bryan Hall office.

production: 2000-01-15 Fall and winter 2000

edition size: 20 copies

note: I wanted this to be done in time to give JJM a copy to take with him to London.


depth: 1/2" inches closed

horizontal: 11 1/2" inches closed

vertical: 8 1/2" inches closed

Production Information

production means:
digital inkjet (local) As per the colophon, printed on an HP color printer, not archival since the only archival inks were for Epson printers.

binding: special (local) A version of Japanese block binding. Necessary to accommodate the single sheets.

bookBlock: paper Mohawk superfine
endsheets: paper Marbled paper

ink (local)

other materials: Blue linen thread for binding


general description: Light, sparkling, pretty.

format: stab (AAT) Block bound over the outside cover, with marbled paper on board extension piece.

cover: Blue Asahi silk, with printed title label "Quantum" pasted on it. Inside covers are marbled paper.

color: yes Type is printed in tones of grey and blue

devices: none


pagination: unpaginated

numbered?: numbered

signed?: signed


Copyright @ 2000: Druckwerk / Autumnal obliques, these rays, passing quickly into winter light, strike the screen. Produced in Quark and then on slides for a reading at the Drawing Center on November 7, 2000, election day. The dynamic modelling effects to come later, in electronic form. For now, this printed version exists in a handful of copies, printed on an HP DeskJet 1120C, on Mohawk Superfine, bound by hand by the author. / Of 20 copies this is number 3. / Johanna Drucker

General Comments

I would still like to see the dynamic version of this book text in electronic form at some point.