'How the news travels'
- or -
'The shimmer that radiates the word'
An artists' book created collaboratively to mark the 70th anniversary of the Nordic Summer University in 2020.
- Edition of 30
- 22 pages, plus glassine wrap and outer covering of a handmade paper from Thailand
- Printed on 160gsm South Bank book smooth stock
The book is not available for sale, but we have a limited number of copies available for donation to appropriate institutions, organisations and resources. Please get in touch if interested.
I was commissioned by the Nordic Summer University to produce an artists' book marking the 70th anniversary of the university in 2020. This was one of ten commissions in the Tracing The Spirit project - read more here. The book is a collaboration with three other artists/printers, all with links to Denmark:
Megan Adie (Aviary Press)
Jens Jørgen Hansen
Luise Valentiner (Trigger Press)
'How the news travels' : high-resolution scan
The book responds to two primary sources: the Nordic Summer University archive (held at the Rigsarkivet Danish National Archives in Copenhagen) and pages from Dagbladet Information newspaper from 1980 that were discovered in the packing of my 1956 Eickhoff 1BS press (example page below). After discussions about the material, each of the four artists created their pages individually before I collated and bound the finished sheets into a final coherent statement reflecting our interpretations of the spirit of the university.
The book itself is a work of graphic art and there are few explanatory notes on materials and motivations. Thus, this web page serves to explain further via narrative and references.
[organised by page number]
p1 - title page by David Armes
There is a recurring theme of lines and nodes throughout my pages. The university is organised by study circles (eg; Social Utopias, Technology, Women's Studies) that come together annually in a summer conference. I saw the circles as nodes and the lines as connecting them together. The graphic in the centre of this page also represents wheels ever-turning, travelling forth. The text is set in Gill Sans and Berkeley Script typefaces.
p3 - 'Tracing The Spirit - with Fireworks of Nordic Study Circles, No.1' by Jens Jørgen Hansen
Hansen's work was influenced by the study circles and the graphic design of the original Dagbladet newspaper.
p5 - by David Armes
This page reflects the nature of the ephemeral material in the archive. Papers are brought out to researchers by librarians in large, heavy boxes on a trolley. Inside, the materials are sometimes held in folders, sometimes loose, sometimes covered by folded papers or slips. The text on this insert regards the core principles of the Sami culture, as recorded by an observer at a 1980 study circle and translates approximately as: 1 - no state formation; 2 - non-violence principle; 3 - no money system; 4 - own legal system at the village level. The paper is unknown but probably hand-made and very inconsistent in thickness and texture.
p7 - by Luise Valentiner
Valentiner's contributions reflect the core essence of the university and the main graphic element is the Oresund Bridge: "the university must build bridges...".
p12-13 by David Armes
The centre spread brings together the two main sources that I researched: the Dagbladet Information newspaper pages from 1980 and the Nordisk Fra Information pamphlets from 1980, published thrice yearly by the university at that time. The former are in italic and the latter are in Roman. The texts draw parallels in concerns of the time. For example;
- "Two distinct cultures collide in questions of law and order" comes from a review of a book by Swedish author Sara Lidman in the Dagbladet newspaper.
+ alongside +
- "In a classless society, workers lead, organise and educate" comes from a set of articles entitled 'What is an intellectual?' in a Nordisk Fra Information pamphlet.
The texts are arranged in a roughly circular formation around more lines and nodes, overlaying a central text that comes from a description of the university's purpose: explain, understand, develop. The red area to the left represents a book, or covering, from which the sentiments emerge.
p15 - by Megan Adie
In its form, Adie's work reflects the delicate, ephemeral nature of the archive papers. The texts reflect her interest in the study circles, as an American citizen living and working in Denmark: "I have had lots of opportunities to think about the social utopias of the Scandinavian countries, and the implication of any utopia: some people are in, and some are out."
p19 - by David Armes
A more improvised page to reflect the overlapping nature of material in the archive. Often, papers didn't appear to relate to each other but, closer inspection and use of the Google Translate optical software would reveal multiple connections. The use of tracing paper is a direct reference to the low-grade papers used for typed letters and documents.
Process images : David Armes
Process images : Megan Adie
Process images : Jens Jørgen Hansen
Process images : Luise Valentiner