Document Type


Passed with distinction


Publication Date

Spring 4-17-2015


Relative to other artistic media such as painting, photography, and sculpture (though the artist’s book can incorporate any one or more of these), the artist’s book is a new object. One scholar on artists’ books, Johanna Drucker, dates the current conception of the making of artists’ books to the postwar era. The discourse surrounding artists’ books is a frontier, and several agents are vying to determine how the artists’ book is defined and described.

Artists’ books resist traditional protocols of book classification. The metadata fields and elements of a MARC record, for example, do not apply to how a collector or user would classify or retrieve an artists’ book, largely because the presumed difference between the paratextual and textual elements of a more traditional book does not apply; both participate equally in the performance or meaning-making of the artists’ book. So how does one describe an artists’ book using the controlled vocabulary of a database, when the field of artists’ books is in the infant stages of what Michel Foucault calls discursive formation?

This poster will treat two databases that describe and classify artists’ books as important nodes of discursive formation. The agents acting upon these databases are the included books, the maker(s) of the database itself, and the perceived user(s) of the database. This poster will compare these agents across two databases to anticipate and articulate the discursive goals of each database as it attempts to shape the field of artists’ books by describing its objects.


Copyright © 2015 Andrea Kohashi.