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Gavin Wade and James Langdon are putting the finishing touches to a new publication with Book Works that's brimming with ideas for a new approach to artistic practice—but to bring the project to life, they need your help…

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“Upcycle this book. Rewrite it as a manifesto. Steal and take and copy and change this book. Upcycle these twenty-six texts just as I have upcycled so many other texts and responded to many sets of existing conditions. Or unlike I have.”

When artist Gavin Wade approached Book Works last year with a proposal for a new book, designed by James Langdon, exploring his practice of ‘upcycling’, they were keen to get on board. “We’ve done a number of projects with with Gavin at Eastside Projects—the first part of the touring exhibition Again, A Time Machine started there,” explains Gavin Everall, Book Works’ Editor & Marketing Manager. “With James, we have worked on books with Katrina Palmer, Francesco Pedraglio, Holly Pester, as well as the Again, A Time Machine publication. So conversations and shared interests date back quite a few years, and it seemed logical that Gavin would approach us to publish this project. It combines a number of elements that we’re interested in publishing—experimental writing by artists, curatorial ideas, experimental design etc—as well as the experience of working together.”

The team had a stumbling block to overcome, however. With Book Works’ publications programme already full, they needed to come up with a means of funding the book in order to bring the project to fruition. Like an increasing number of designers and publishers, they turned to Kickstarter to launch a crowdfunding campaign, with the aim of attracting enough backers to secure the cash. “We had previously done one successful Kickstarter-based crowdfunded book,” Everall explains, “and thought that this had the elements that would make this source of funding work: lots of personal contacts, and interest, with ideas crossing over a number of areas.”

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Cover design for Upcycle this Book

The book brings together a selection of artworks by Wade, many in the form of manifestoes, stories and statements, along with interviews, discussions, and proposals. It also features a series of drawings by Wade of an A-Z alphabet of display structures, adapted from the artist and architect Frederick Kiesler’s ‘L-Type’ and ‘T-Type’ Display Unit’s of 1924 and Adolf Krischanitz’s ‘Secession Mobile Wall System’ of 1986—an example of his upcycling ethos in action. 

Langdon's design for the book uses square-span, a typographic structure proposed by Herbert Bayer in his seminal essay On Typography. “Bayer proposed square-span as an alternative to conventional orthographies arranged in sentences and paragraphs,” Langdon explains. “In square-span words are grouped spatially, with small stacks of words organised according to their meaning in the text.”


Given that the content for Upcycle this Book included several manifestos, mission statements and short texts, this approach to layout struck a chord. “It seems appropriate to Gavin's writing for a number of reasons,” says Langdon. “His interest in historical remakes and continuities, and his admiration of Bayer are obvious, but there is also a tendency in his writing towards simple structures and short, direct expressions. (Bayer wrote that ‘text written in logical, short thought groups lends itself best’ to his system.)

Prose like:
‘To be human is to exhibit. To be great at exhibiting is to be an artist. To be an artist is a choice. How to be an artist is a choice.’
is ideal. For a text like this, and others in the book, square-span is more responsive than conventional sentences and paragraphs.”

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A spread from Upcycle this Book showing the square-span layout.

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One of Juneau Projects’ bird drawings which feature in the book.

To complete the project and bring the book to life, Book Works are currently crowdfunding the project on Kickstarter, in a campaign ending on Sunday 5 March—backers' rewards include copies of the book at a special reduced rate as well as prints, editions, and workshops with either Wade or Langdon. To view the campaign and help make the book happen, visit the campaign page over on Kickstarter here.

Upcycle this book by Gavin Wade is co-published by Book Works and Stroom den Haag and distributed by Book Works. Edited by Gavin Everall and James Langdon, in an edition of 1000 copies.

130mm x 190mm, 360pp, two colours throughout with a soft cover. Printed on Munken Print White designed by James Langdon, with an introduction by David Burrows and drawings by Juneau Projects.