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Project Statement

by J. Drucker

A collaboration, conceived as an artists' project for Nexus Press, the book was overly constrained by the literal narrative structure. When compared to Emerging Sentience (2000) or Nova Reperta (1999), or even Cuba (2005), the book lacks visual and design richness. The idea of the book came to us in the National Air and Space Museum in DC. We were looking at images of the Mars lander and the photo caption included the phrase "Martian topography." Almost simultaneously we said aloud, "Martian TYpography." So the project began. We looked at the history of images of Mars and the corresponding evolution of conceptual understanding of that planet, its surface, character, identity. The history of imaginings and projections was intriguing, as were the images themselves. And of course, there was the divine work of Helene Smith, prodigy of Theodor Flournoy, about the planet Mars and the language of India...Much rich material was used to shape the book, and the images in its pages contain many scanned pieces. All the Mac/Apple, Photoshop, and Quark tools were new and novel. The production for this book took place in 1991, and our first system cost us nearly $8000 for a scanner, computer, monitor, and black and white printer. Brad's explorations of digital capabilities expanded the project, and gave it whatever beauty and design richness it has. The pages are nicely enough laid out otherwise, and the book has a neat, small format, but between the newness of our relationship and the difficulty of trying to make a shared vision cohere, the project remained, I think, more conventional than had either of us done it on our own. As a book about emerging sentience, that of the planet and its exchange with Jane, the scientist (played by an Art History grad student who shifted to medical school), the book has themes that come and go from various of my writings and, obviously, another of our later projects.

Otherspace: Martian Ty/opography

Johanna Drucker

title note: The pun in the title was reinforced by the orthography, a favorite technique. [J. Drucker]


Johanna Drucker

type: initiating


born: United States
active: United States
citizenship: United States

birth: 1952-05-30

Brad Freeman

type: initiating


active: United States
citizenship: United States

Publication Information

publisher: Nexus Press and Interplanetary Publications

conception: 1990-00-00
production: 1990-00-00:1992-00-00
publication: 1992-00-00

publication history: Published by Interplanetary Productions and Nexus Press. Interplanetary Productions is a joint venture of Druckwerk (Johanna Drucker) and Varicose (Brad Freeman). [A. Schutte]

Aesthetic Profile


artists' books (LCSH)

themes: Sentience, gender, ecological awareness, interplanetary communications. [J. Drucker]

content form:
narrative (local)
experimental text (local)

publication tradition:
artists' book (local)

inspiration: The caption to the photograph of the Martian rover in the Air and Space Museum in DC, "Martian topography." [J. Drucker]

related works: Emerging Sentience and, also, Narratology, Mind Massage, and Simulant Portrait -- the books of mine that address women, narrative, awareness, gender, and conventions, some with sci-fi themes, some with genre issues. [J. Drucker]

other influences: The images and texts from the history of astronomical observation of Mars. [J. Drucker]

community: press Nexus Press was the place the book was produced, printed, bound, and distributed. [J. Drucker]

note: Very much an artists' book, something which could not or would not find a publisher in a commercial venue. [J. Drucker]

Exhibition Information

exhibition history: As per complete works, see CV.

reception history: none to speak of.

Related Documents

manuscript type: mockups

location: artist's archive

note: Many extant, including design trials and variants.

manuscript type: texts

location: artist's archive

note: Many extant.

manuscript type: other

location: artist's archive

note: Source materials, research, images, and photos are all extant.

General Comments

An enormous amount of work to produce, the book wasn't quite successful. The costs for its production were never recouped. I believe the letterpress version of History of the/my Wor(l)d helped pay for this book. [J. Drucker]