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UAL Research Online

A Dictionary Project

Winston, Sam (2003) A Dictionary Project. [Art/Design Item]

Type of Research: Art/Design Item
Creators: Winston, Sam

The project involved the sculpting of a 21 volume Oxford English Dictionary. It is probably the largest bookwork of its kind, containing 80,000 folds in its construction. The project addresses the relationship between the book as object and the role of the reader. By rendering the text illegible, the work becomes a purely physical manifestation of what can be said in English.

Accompanying this is a typographic piece entitled ‘a dictionary story’ which also explores narrative and format but this time through written language. Combining concrete poetry and graphic design this work looks to address new ways of engaging with typography.

As readers, our relationship with text is often a linear experience of patiently following a narrative that has been set by the author. Typography is designed with that purpose in mind. The Modernist notion of typography as a ‘transparent’ conduit for the author’s meaning began to be challenged in the 1980’s and 1990’s by typographers using digital technology to blur, distress and layer type and to generally reduce its legibility. It is in this field that most of my work now takes place. The most comfortable term I have found for this is ‘duality of texts', by which I mean the exposing of the cognitive process we employ to understand language. This can be understood in the academic canon in such fields as semiotics and onomastics, but rarely is it explored visually in the applied arts.

The outcome of the project was to produce two artworks (an edition book and sculpture) that directly explore these issues. These were then placed in the fields that would be of most benefit – graphic design, artist’s books (contemporary art) and poetry. This was done through publication, exhibition and lectures.

Official Website: http://www.samwinston.com
Additional Information (Publicly available):

Typographic artist Sam Winston's experimental work blurs the boundaries between words and text. By turning words into images to disassociate their literal meanings and instead expose their artistic potential as purely visual tools, Winston's work challenges traditional ways of how we use language. His limited edition artist books are characterised by this playful approach to language, often fusing elements of children's fairytales and adult books, andfeaturing type, handwritten scribbles and crossed out sentences to form new meanings.

His work has been exhibited at diverse venues, from Colette in Paris to London's ICA, as well as in more traditional establishments such as The Courtauld Institute and The British Library; recent commissions include the Comme des Garcons' guerrilla store in Hong Kong and The New York Times.

His most recent project celebrates the reopening of the Saison Poetry Library on London's Southbank with an exhibition of new works entitled 'Volume'(2007/08) - including a sculpture made from the twenty-volume Complete Oxford English Dictionary; requiring approximately 80,000 folds, 'A Full Folded Dictionary' creates a 'a book within a book', folding each page in on on itself. The exhibition also features a series of images comprising each individual letter from Romeo and Juliet and an interactive project designed by graphic design studio A Practice For Everyday Life.

Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > Camberwell College of Arts
Date: 26 January 2003
Related Websites: http://www.samwinston.com/
Related Websites:
Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2009 11:51
Last Modified: 10 Sep 2010 14:31
Item ID: 973
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/973

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