Curated Artist Registry

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Joshua Caleb Weibley
brooklyn NY US
Updated: 2017-01-19 02:19:15


All of the materials in this profile were included in the exhibitions "Colophon" and "Cruft". These were accompanied by an edition whose front and back covers bore the following text written in the manner of a factitious colophon text:


'Edie Freedman designed the first covers of O’Reilly Media’s “Animal” books in 1986 using 19th-century engravings of animals from the Dover Pictorial Archive. Her format for the series pairing an animal, a color and a typeface with a program or programming language has remained remarkably consistent since the first title was published (only within the last few years shifting from the ITC Garamond font these words are set in to URW Typewriter). The series' iconic covers continue to complement O’Reilly’s distinctive approach to technical topics, breathing personality and life into potentially dry subjects, animating what is effectively Silicon Valley’s industry standard guide series.

Since the 19th-century a few animals documented by the Dover Pictorial Archive have become extinct or endangered. Similarly, some of the “Animal” books’ technological subjects have become obsolete (like the guide to Windows 98 or, more recently, the one to Windows XP). Accordingly not all of the books remain in print. Many have evolved in successive editions. If a machine could empathize with and relate itself to organic life, it might see in the printing cycles of these books or the extinctions of these animals on their covers metaphors for its own product lifecycle and that of the different languages running through it that are outlined in O'Reilly's series.

The “Animal” books are noteworthy for their substantial use of back page colophons including information about each cover’s animal alongside more traditional uses of the form.

In publishing, a colophon is a brief statement containing information about the publication of a book such as the place of publication, the publisher and the date of publication. Its name derives from the Greek κολοφών, or “summit” giving a colophon the metaphorical sense of a “crowning touch”. Among the "Animal" books' idiosyncratic hallmarks is their uncommonly robust use of back page colophons including information about the animals on their covers alongside more traditional uses of the form.

This colophon was written by Joshua Caleb Weibley in conjunction with the 2015 exhibition “Colophon” at Veronica, a project space in Seattle, WA nearby to the headquarters of the software company Microsoft and the eCommerce bookseller It was revised for the release of this publication in conjunction with a second exhibition in 2015, “Cruft”, at TRANSFER Gallery in Brooklyn, NY.

“Colophon” and “Cruft” included drawings of a climbing Frog, a Dodo, Dung Beetles, a European common Frog, a Groundhog, a Hare, a Harpy Eagle, a Hook-Lipped Rhinoceros, a Javanese Rhinoceros, a Long-Eared Bat, a Malayan Tapir, Owls, a Paradise Flycatcher, a Reinwardt’s Gliding Frog, Sea Turtles, Slender Lorises, a Tarsier, Victoria Crowned Pigeons and a Woodpecker alongside a drawing of the first edition of this colophon text.

These drawings were meticulously rendered by hand on letter paper—line by line as if by an erratic ink-jet printer—with a Westcott B-60 C-THRU 8ths graph ruler and countless Sakura Pigma Micron pens ranging in nib size from .2 to .5 millimeters. They were exhibited in frames made out of Solid Surface.

Solid Surface was invented in the 1960s and shares with the "Animal" books both an orientation toward antiquation and an analogy to the skeuomorphism of user interface design. Originally introduced alongside the DuPont corporation's other innovative "space age plastics", Solid Surface is now manufactured throughout the world for invisibly banal, chameleonically elastic commercial use. For instance: buying and "Animal" book from any chain store will likely bring the book to rest on a Solid Surface counter at the point of sale. Meanwhile online, "Add to cart" and "Proceed to checkout" serve virtually the same function and slip by just as quickly.'


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