The intent of this project is to clarify the artist's work in topology and make a lengthy statement on her process (affectively an end as well as the means, in this case). In particular, Gordon uses the classical Proteus myth to metaphorically relate to the protean changes she effects in imagery. In the 1970's and 80's Bonnie Gordon traced the connections between a half-tone photograph and definitions found in Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged. The photograph, reportedly found in a Santa Monica, California junk shop, is of an "everyman" wearing a common shirt and tie. Every word used by Gordon, in connection with the photograph, was provided by the Merriam-Webster's dictionary. Gordon's project was to trace chance associations between the photograph and found words in order to "reveal or reify deep-rooted attitudes and experiences" that make our human bodies out of language. The project is enhanced (but also constrained) by three subjects besides the human figure: the color black, half-tone screen or pattern, and the action of stretching.
The Anatomy of Proteus
title note: subtitle: According to Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged [T.Shaw]
active: United States
Visual Studies Workshop Press
New York Council on the Arts
Provided support through an individual projects grant
publisher: Visual Studies Workshop Press
publication history: One edition printed and distributed by Visual Studies Workshop Press [T. Shaw]
language poetry (local)
themes: Protean shape shifting, language and the human body [T. Shaw]
artists' book (local)
related works: other titles by the author The Four Temperaments, 1974, and Anatomy of Image Maps, 1982 [T. Shaw]
community: press Visual Studies Workshop Press [T. Shaw]
manuscript type: mockups
location: other Press sheets and related ephemera exist in Visual Studies Workshop Press's production archive.
note: The artist has been working on this project for decades. Doubtless innumerable documents exist in her personal archive in Buffalo, NY pertaining to the book and project.