Marlene MacCallum, “Theme and Permutation”
Artist: Marlene MacCallum (Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada)
Title: Theme and Permutation (2012)
Medium/technique(s): Hand sewn pamphlet, images printed in offset lithography on Mohawk Superfine, text printed in inkjet, translucent covers with inkjet printed on Glama
Edition size: 100
Number of pages: 28 pages (includes covers)
Dimensions, open: 9.25 x 17 x .125 inches
Dimensions, closed: 9.25 x 8.5 x .25 inches
My photogravure prints and book works explore variations of three ongoing preoccupations: instances of perceptual paradox, illusionism and illumination. I use the camera to record within and about domestic architecture. From this imagery source I create prints that echo the sensory and temporal paradoxes we may experience during the perception of the quotidian. Illusionism underscores the uncanny response as we view an image that is persuasive in its spatial representation while maintaining the graphic material flatness of paper and ink. External light filters our perception of interior spaces and reiterates the architectural and perceptual threshold. My artist’s books emphasize visual narrative and the effect of image memory in constructing sequences.
Theme and Permutation is one of a series of artist’s books inspired by the experience of living in Corner Brook’s Townsite area on the west coast of the island of Newfoundland. Between 1924-34 the pulp mill built 150 homes to house the mill management and skilled labourers. Over a period of 10 years, I have photographed in six homes, all the same type-4 model as the one I live in. These homes vary in condition from close to original in design and décor to highly renovated. This project gave me the rare opportunity to record the evolution of interior aspects of these homes. It has been the context to explore the paradoxical phenomena of conformity and individualization that occurs in a company town. Having grown up in a suburban housing development, my earliest memories of home is that of living in a space that is reminiscent of my neighbors’. Each artist’s book explores a distinct facet of image memory, multiplicity, sequence and offers the viewer a visual equivalence of the uncanny.
Theme and Permutation is a response to the permutations and variations of the type-4 Townsite House. Digital tools were used to translate the original film source of eight different window images from five houses. The sixteen offset lithographic plates were custom printed in twenty-nine separate press runs. Each image is the result of a different combination of plates. The structure is a sewn pamphlet with translucent covers. The viewer enters the body of the book with a tritone image of a single Townsite window. As one moves into the piece, new window images appear and layer over each other. The images become darker and more heavily layered towards the mid-point. The center spread has an inkjet layer of two text blocks printed over the offset litho images. The text speaks of the history of the homes, the architectural permutations and economic shifts within the Townsite area. The ensuing pages continue to provide new combinations of window layers, gradually lightening in tonality and allowing the individual windows to become more distinct. A third text block provides a personal narrative. The piece concludes with a tritone image of one of the Townsite windows in original condition.