Events > Book Launch

02 Oct. 2004

The Outline of History

Daniel Olson

An artist book as reference tool that takes the form of a reconstituted index from the original Outline of History by H. G. Wells. This epic exercise in name dropping comes in at over 1200 pages. The book is published in a signed and numbered edition of 100 copies and sells for $100.00.

The artist says: The Outline of History, the second in my series of reconstituted index books, is an artist’s book project taking as its point of departure H.G. Wells’ popular classic of the same name. First published in 1920, Wells’ book purports to tell “the whole story of man” in a single, “intensely readable” volume. Like its predecessor Sixties Vogue (2000) – based on the index of Vogue in the Sixties – the text of any given page of The Outline of History consists of all the index entries from the corresponding page in the original book. Stripped of Wells’ narrative and interpretive content, the reconstituted index version reads as little more than an epic exercise in name dropping, but it manages nevertheless to carry something of the gravity and import of the original.

Like most of my artist’s books ñ there are approximately fifty self-published titles including The Book of Daniel (1992), The Good Book (1994), The Value of Pi to One Million Digits (1998), The Whole Wide World (2000), and Que sais-je? (2002) The Outline of History is essentially a found text, a conceptually-based exercise in the discovery, selection, and re-presentation of existing information.

Daniel Olson completed degrees in mathematics and architecture before receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (1986) and a Master of Fine Arts from York University (1995). Usually beginning with found sounds, objects, texts, or images, Olson is generally concerned not so much with adding new things to the world, but with rearranging existing ones. His work – which includes installation, performance, video, audio, sculpture, photography, multiples and artist’s books – has been seen and heard in and outside of galleries since 1986. Olson lives and works in Montreal.

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).