Book Plumbing

1967 London, England
Coauthors: Jeffrey Shaw, John Latham

Books were used extensively by John Latham in his artistic practice, and often controversially because of the processes of deconstruction that he used. Jeffrey Shaw’s expanded cinema installations and performances typically involved air structures and various material actions. Book Plumbing was a mixed-media installation they created together in the basement of Better Books in London.

They covered walls, ceiling and floor with encrustations of books and fragmented book materials, punctured by plastic tubing; injected with polyurethane foam, smoke and steam; and animated by jets of air from a swinging centrifugal blower.

One of the centerpieces of this installation was an expanded cinema performance using a Penguin-branded bookcase, in which the books on each shelf were embedded in opaque yellow jelly. The gradual and sequential inflation of plastic tubing forced each consecutive row of books and jelly to slide out of its shelf and then fall in an indecorous agglomeration onto the floor. During this process, film Continuous Sound and Image Moments (1967) was projected over the surface of the Penguin bookcase.

Exhibition Record

1967/04/01 - 04/22 : Better Books, London, United Kingdom

2012/11/03 - 2013/01/06 : Better Books: Art, Anarchy and Apostasy, ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany