AB Gorham, “Lilt”

AB Gorham
Sparks, Nevada

artist’s book
10.25″ x 10.25″ x .25″

Artist Statement

Lilt, a book-object-portrait, gambols in the space between book & portrait, text as imagery, the body as a 2D unfolding event—a person distilled into colorfields & bits of a life recollected. Using extracted text from Edward Tufte’s books on data visualization, combined with original fragmentary writing, Lilt acts as grief processed into a paper ritual which memorializes my grandmother, Lil Gorham, who passed away in 2016.

The vision of the figure as text, much like concrete poetry, uses poetic fragments to inhabit the figure’s shape, while embodying a more complex memory as represented in the shape of the cheek, or jawline. In this way, Lilt exists simultaneously, ghostly, as a poem and a portrait. Treating memories as points of data allows for a contained approach to an individual’s biography, as we are comprised of so many moments and acts, to say nothing of the infinite intentions alive within us.

Connecting and sometimes overlapping at the folds, Lilt is comprised of two folded folios tipped together. Each folio has three folded columns and two folded rows, dividing the piece, which has a letterpress printed photo on it, into a macrocosmic visual approximation of the figure, like so: sandy blonde hair (at head of piece), blue eyes, a frosted pink lip, and ash (at tail of piece). The columns of text that border the outsides of each folio are designed to approximate an obituary column in a newspaper, and include a mixture of Tufte’s writing plus original text (the difference is denoted by color).

Lilt is an embodied reading experience, and inspired a performance component (performed at CBAA 2020) that channels the cadence of a eulogy which includes a call and response with a pre-recorded reading of the Tufte text and an animation of the imagery within the piece. Lilt offers both an artifact of and the ritual for saying goodbye.

Letterpress printed on a Vandercook 219AB from photopolymer plates on Awagami Shin Inbe & housed in a clamshell box. The object can be unfolded and viewed on a table top, or hung on wall.

This artist book was funded by a College Book Art Association Project Grant.