Events > Book Launch

17 Feb. 2007

Book launch for new publications from Parasitic Ventures Press

Parasitic Ventures Press
Daniel Cockburn, Daniel Olson, and Sandra Rechico
Herman Melville and Marcel Proust
2 pm - 5 pm

Art Metropole is pleased to help launch 5 new books published by Parasitic Ventures Press, please join us on Saturday February 17, 2007 between 2 and 5 pm. The new titles include:

Daniel Cockburn, Visible Vocals
2 perfectbound ‘letter-sized’ volumes, each 160 pages, with audio CD.

In March 2005, Daniel Cockburn presented a typing performance as his contribution to a night of performance art by video artists (Feats, might, curated by Alissa Firth-Eagland, presented by Fado and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art). This set of two books and one CD is a collaboration between Cockburn and the Press which attempts to replicate the performance in book form.

Herman Melville, Four percent of Moby Dick
1 perfectbound volume, 284 pages, 6×9 inch trim.

A critical edition of Moby Dick, as edited by the Press. This version of the text is particularly good at underscoring the various subtexts that interweave the main narrative.

Daniel Olson, Notes on the Book
Letterpress printed on fabriano ingres, a 16 page unbound book in case.

This book consists of a compilation of the indexing system used in Henry Petroski’s Book on the Bookshelf. In the process, each chapter is distilled to a single page. Letterpress printed at the Banff Centre in 2006.

Marcel Proust, All the Names of ‘In search of lost time’
2 perfectbound volumes, each 568 pages, 6×9 inch trim.

As with our Melville, this two volume critical edition keys in on the central themes in Proust’s In search of lost time. Please note: this English language edition is based upon the Scott-Moncrieff translation.

Sandra Rechico, whereabouts
1 perfectbound volume; 96 pages, 7.5 inch square trim.

Rechico has been working with ideas of navigation and mapping for over ten years. whereabouts is a series of documentary drawings which trace paths taken by the artist over the course of 2004. (Also available is a hand-bound, fine-press edition of the book in an edition of ten.)

Parasitic Ventures Press is devoted to artist books.

Using appropriate technologies, we foster projects which engage with contemporary social issues through critically engaged practices. Our books range from limited edition fine press editions, through to inexpensively produced print projects and internet distributed electronic documents.

The press has been variably active over the past fifteen years. Initially established in Montreal, the press has been located over a wide geographic range, including Saskatoon, Washington, Rochester, & Amsterdam. The press is currently located in Toronto, Ontario.

Parasitic Ventures Press would like to thank Art Metropole for their continued support, and the Toronto Arts Council and the Ontario Arts Council for help in seeing these books through to print.

Parasitic Ventures Press is a press interested in artists’ books.

By our definition, an artists’ book is a highly mutable form, which connotes a contextual framework within which a work is produced rather than as a particular physical form. As Johanna Drucker has stated, the two structural elements of a book are finitude and sequence. We agree.

Our interest is in artists’ books that extensively use text as a medium. We are intrigued by the possibilities inherent in the subversion of text, particularly when the source text is of the ‘found’ variety.

(Please see below for a list of things we are definitely not interested in.)

The press has been variably active over the past fifteen-some years. Initially established in Montreal, the press has been located over a wide geographic range, including Saskatoon, Washington, Rochester, & Amsterdam. The press is currently located in Toronto, Ontario. In the past, we primarily focussed on in-house productions, from handbound limited edition books to anonymous public-site interventions.

We have expanded the activities of the press to also produce work by other artists and collectives.

Using appropriate technologies, we hope to foster an increasing range of critically-engaged projects. We are primarily pursuing inexpensively produced print projects. For the right project, we might also be interested in producing extremely limited edition ‘fine’ books in collaboration with producers.

Daniel Cockburn, born in 1976, lives in Toronto, Canada. Since completing his film- and video production studies, he works as a video artist. In 2008 he shot his first full-length feature film, You Are Here. Up to the present, he has produced over twenty short films screened at festivals, galleries, and art collections around the world, and his works are repeatedly honored with awards.

Cockburn cites the Argentine writer Jorges Luis Borges as essentially influencing his reality-deconstructing stories. He too, presents his artistic figures as imprisoned in narrative leitmotifs that they themselves arrange. And ultimately, language plays an important role in Cockburn’s undertakings as well—namely the search for the great order. Whether a Wittgenstein quote or a fragment of Hollywood dialogue, whether inside or outside the frame, Cockburn’s texts are as obsessed with language as skeptical of it. They jump from the breakfast butter to discussing the universe and back again. His cascades of words devour themselves and create rhetorical spirals. In addition to content, what especially interests him is the rhythm of speech and singing. Most recently, his work increasingly deals with montages of text of the same meter. Cockburn is interested in rhythm as a possible ordering principle on every cinematic level. Rhythm is a component of time, and time is the determining dimension of the film medium. A film exists exclusively in the sequencing of images and never in the frozen image alone. All in all, Cockburn’s interest is directed at the essence of film, at the essence of conveyance.

He loves movies and consciously draws from their means. His musical background and training in traditional narrative filmmaking remain perceptible even in his experimental films. His works combine abstract investigation with narration, shifting as it were, back and forth through the borders between video art, film essays, and narration. With his film “You Are Here,” a work in progress, he tears down the border to narrative feature filmmaking again.

In the short film that Cockburn produced in 2002, Metronome (10’40”), he goes on another essay-like, cinema-manic as well as literary-philosophical journey through the course of a day. He explores mental patterns in life, language, rhythm, and movies. In the process, he subjects an entire day to the same rhythm: 144 beats per minute. This is the beat that the film’s protagonist unceasingly pounds out on his chest. The film’s voice-over part, recited in this staccato as well, is inspired by the Hollywood movie Fight Club —one of the many cinematic or written sources that Cockburn quotes and weaves into his network of associations. At the Media City 9 Festival, this film won the jury’s Best Canadian Work Award. In addition, at the Images Festival, together with The Other Shoe, this same film, completed in conjunction with a residency grant for Charles Street Video, received the Homebrew Award.

Cockburn’s short film Brother Tongue/Langue Fraternelle (15’ 48’’) parodies the obsession that an artist has with language: a filmmaker, portrayed by Cockburn himself, is giving an interview on his fascination with language when he literally runs out of words. The second, speechless half of the film consists of a long, camera zoom, which passes though the window and glides into a more or less abstract image. Though words are no longer spoken, the French subtitles continue, leaving the viewer with a typically “Cockburnian” paradox: the translation exists without anything to translate.

In Berlin, Daniel Coburn plans to continue his investigation of narration, speech, rhythm, and repetition in the form of two series of short films. In the Translators series, German and English texts with unalike meanings but identical meters become connected. In the second series, entitled Orderers, Cockburn plans to have what appear to be meaningless actions and sentences tossed together, and afterward, when shown again reassembled, to have their meaning revealed.

Herman Melville (August 1, 1819 – September 28, 1891) was an American writer most famous for his novel Moby Dick although the fame from the novel came posthumously. Melville did experience fame in his lifetime from Typee however, although in typical United States fashion, he first had to get the travelogue published overseas in London in 1846 before receiving wide acclaim stateside a year later for the sensational account of a tribe attributed to acts of cannibalism that had to be billed as a novel because few believed the truthfulness of his narrative. His books written directly after Typee were initially released by his publishers with the intent of drawing as much popular acclaim but soon it was discovered that Herman Melville was not out to titillate the masses with exoticisms but had some depth in his questioning of human existence. By the end of the 1850s, he was banished from popular fortune’s attention and by 1876 all of his books were out of print.

Herman Melville’s writing was greatly influenced from his travels at sea although it was the desire to “unfold” himself that drove him to a writing vocation. Melville’s seafaring began as a way to generate income as well as to distance himself from his gentlemanly upbringing. His father, Allan Melvill (Melville’s mother added the ‘e’ at the end of the family name after the senior Melville passed) was a successful importer of dry goods from France as well as a commission merchant. The Melvill’s were an established Boston family with many accreditations to the family’s upstanding citizenry, Herman Melville’s grandfather, Thomas Melvill for example, was a survivor of the Boston Tea Party (and subject of Oliver Wendell Holmes’ poem The Last Leaf since Thomas would not change his garb to reflect the changing times but was perennially dressed in revolutionary era dress). Melville’s mother’s side, the Gansevoorts, were also well known and established with military honors being bestowed upon at least one member, General Peter Gansevoort, for his participation in the Battle of Saratoga. It is in Melville’s story Pierre that his pride in a “double revolutionary descent” can be seen.

Herman Melville was afforded an education at the New York Male School although he also maintained a rich autodidact’s voraciousness steeping himself in anything he could read from anthropology to history to Shakespeare. At about twelve years of age, however, Melville’s father entered into bankruptcy due to the results of limiting overseas trading in the wake of the Battle of 1812. Soon after Allan Melvill passed away leaving the family destitute. Melville’s mother’s family was tied up in protecting their own inheritances and could not afford to support the family and Maria (his mother) was forced to depend on Allan’s younger brother, Thomas for support. Melville had continued support as he did what he could to help out his mother and seven brothers and sisters, he continued school, joined The Yong Men’s Association in Albany and worked as a schoolteacher beginning in 1837 while he began to feel our his chops as a writer. The family moved to Lansingburg, New York and it is here that young Herman Melville tried his hand at publishing some of his works under the pseudonym L.A.V.

Feeling the pressures of not only finances but wanderlust, Herman Melville enlisted with a merchant ship on its way to Liverpool as well as made some small travels on the Mississippi before finally finding his way onto the whaling ship Acushnet in 1841 that would provide the experiences detailed in most of Melville’s repertoire. He would come to desert the Acushnet on Nuku Hiva where his time spent with the Taipi natives would later be recounted in his first book, Typee, then jump aboard an Australian whaler where refusing to work would get him imprisoned in Tahiti, and then finally shipping off to Hawaii where he would become a sailor on the frigate United States in the U.S. Navy. In 1844 upon his return and retelling of the stories he had accumulated which garnered him support for publishing said stories, Melville began to work on his internal work of unfolding himself and the human experiences he had been witness to upon the seas and on dry land.

As mentioned previously, Typee was a hit although not immediately for upon submission to Harper and Brothers, a United States publishing house, the editors liked it because of its similarities to Robinson Crusoe but ultimately rejected it on the grounds that it had little value because there was no way that Herman Melville was recounting a true account. The narrative includes Melville’s experiences on Nuku Hiva and the time spent with the inhabitants of the island learning such distinctions as the one between savage and cannibal. This educational experience afforded Melville not only with the way of life of another group of people but also that values are not concrete and shift depending on the context of the society and culture. That meaning shifts along with these values and that no human is without the capacity for evil, regardless of lifestyle and seeming idyllic and peaceful contexts. Herman Melville was able to get Typee published in London and subsequently sold about 6,000 copies in the United States and abroad in two years and gained him acclaim as a promising writer.

Herman Melville’s following novels, Omoo in 1847 and Mardi and a Voyage Thither in 1849 were received with less enthusiasm due to the increasing emphasis not on the novelties and peculiarities of other peoples, but of the human condition as it applies across the board. With Moby Dick, Melville lost the public’s interest as the now famous novel sold only 3,000 in Melville’s entire lifetime. The characteristic interior Moby Dick was in part fueled by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s insistence that Melville make the story an allegory instead of a strict whaling adventure. Herman Melville and Hawthorne met at Arrowhead, Melville and his wife’s (Elizabeth Shaw who he married in 1847 and would have four children with) farm in Pittsfield, Berkshire Country, Massachusetts. Hawthorne was very taken with Melville’s ability to delve deep into the human psyche and find what lay there and was very supportive in Melville’s continual unfolding and searching out “the great Art of Telling the Truth” which was a phrase Melville used in writing about Hawthorne in his essay Hawthorne and His Mosses. Herman Melville writes: “For in this world of lies, Truth is forced to fly like a scared white doe in the woodlands; and only by cunning glimpses will she reveal herself, as in Shakespeare and other masters of the great Art of Telling the Truth, – even though it be covertly, and by snatches.”

The truth that Herman Melville tells in Moby Dick, a story of the search for the great white whale, is available to any and all. The allegory is of a man, Captain Ahab, and his quest find revenge against the whale that took his leg. Ahab involves his entire crew which is eventually brought to destruction as Ahab drowns, being pulled down by the whale leaving only the narrator (“Call me Ishmael”) to be rescued by a passing ship. The aim and claim of what this narrative is and does goes through shifts as the critical climate changes. Whether or not Ahab is a hero or a foreshadowing of dictators to arise out of industrialized nations struggling with a capitalism/socialism/communism machine, this can be read in myriad of ways to unfold the plight of the Pequod.

Herman Melville continued to write in the face of his decline of fame and continued to produce incredible stories and novels including the highly regarded short stories Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street, Benito Cereno, the novel The Confidence Man, and the posthumously published Billy Budd. Melville did a lecture tour after traveling Europe and the Holy Land in 1857 but still his impact on contemporaries remained in remission. Elizabeth and himself relocated in 1863 to New York City where he spent the remaining years of his life working at a customs house and writing poetry that is still being recognized for its merits including the long poem Clarel (completely ignored in his time). He died in obscurity in 1891 and is buried with his wife in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.

Born in California to Canadian parents in 1955, Daniel Olson completed degrees in mathematics and architecture before obtaining a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1986 from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design Halifax) and a Master of Fine Arts in 1995 from York University (Toronto). Olson’s work, which includes sculpture, multiples, installation, photography, performance, audio, video and artist’s books, has been exhibited widely, including shows at the Contemporary Art Gallery (Vancouver), the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (Québec), Galerie Optica (Montreal), and the Canadian Cultural Centre (Paris). Olson has published numerous artist’s books and multiples, most of which have been available at Art Metropole in Toronto, where he is also represented by Birch Libralato. Since 2001 Olson has been living and working in Montreal. Solo exhibitions include Twenty Minutes’ Sleep, Contemporary Art Gallery (Vancouver, 2005); Other Conditions, Modern Fuel (Kingston, 2005); Unknown Seventies Artists, Galerie TPW (Toronto, 2005); and I’m Not There (1955), Goethe Institute (Dublin, 2004). Olson has exhibited in group exhibitions such as Aural Cultures, Walter Philips Gallery (Banff, Alberta, 2005); Frottements: Objets et surfaces sonores, Musee national des beaux arts de Quebec, (Quebec, 2004); In Light (video projections by eight artists), Art Gallery of Ontario, (Toronto, 2004); and Promise, Contemporary Art Gallery (Vancouver,2001).

Sandra Rechico is a Toronto artist whose drawings and installations investigate urban space. Her work has been exhibited across Canada and abroad. Her exhibitions have been featured in numerous publications and she has participated in a number of international residencies. She has also co-curated WADE a city-wide art event in Toronto’s wading pools with Christie Pearson. Rechico is an Assistant Professor at the University of Guelph.