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Matt Runkle ~ Oregon

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Artist's statement: "I'm a writer who engages with visual and tactile practices in the service of narrative. I'm drawn to hybrid genres, to junk, to the book as a form, and to the space between text and image."

Casino Baby
By Matt Runkle and AB Gorham
Reno, Nevada: AB Gorham and Matt Runkle, 2019. Edition of 50.

6" x 6" closed; 16" x 16" open. Single-sheet folded structure. Written, designed, and letterpress printed from photopolymer plates in 2019 in Reno, Nevada, by two transplants to the city, Matt Runkle and AB Gorham. Letterpress printed using photopolymer plates in four colors on Kitakata. Housed in a folded cardstock enclosure.

AB Gorham: "’Casino Baby!’ takes place at the meeting of desert and mountains, inside a labyrinthine casino where house and player are in conversation. What patterns emerge from the carpet, the manipulated air, the onslaught of sounds made by machines?”

Matt Runkle: “We were both transplants to Reno, Nevada, when we started our process, and we separately wandered the landscape of the rapidly changing city and made sketches of its casino culture, its distinct high-desert ecosystem, and signs of the cultural and environmental shifts happening under the onslaught of tech and developer interests. All the while, we also tracked the less terrestrial forces at work around us—the daemonic, otherworldly beings weaving their way throughout the unique locale.

“We then took these sketches and used them to compose a series of patterns, inspired by casino carpets, whose motifs are designed to create a hypnotic, inward pull for casino-goers. We took these patterns and broke them down at points, subverting the force of their repetition, before printing our composition on one side of this single-sheet structure.

“On the reverse, we printed the results of an iambic-pentametric writing collaboration in which Gorham assumed the voice of a casino patron and Runkle the voice of the house. These were then interspersed with onomatopoeic slot-machine sounds before being composed in a Copperplate Gothic zigzag that bounces off the diagonal lines of the structure's folds.”

Casino Baby book
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By Matt Runkle
Iowa City: Matt Runkle, 2015. Edition of 25.

6 x 9"; 90 pages. Letterpress and laser printed. Non-typographic images drawn and collaged, then reproduced using laser printing or letterpress printing from photopolymer plates. Flat spine binding in full cloth. In white dustjacket with titles and author on spine. Numbered and signed by the artist.

Matt Runkle: "'Catholics' is an artist book, a limited-edition memoir that makes use of illustration, collage, and letterpress-printed typography to explore the psychic cathedral built by my Catholic traditionalist upbringing. Beginning with an anti-clerical quip by Tallulah Bankhead, the book takes on a range of subjects including Catholic-Masonic tensions, the fervency of converts, the legacy of the Legion of Decency, and the spiritual significance of revelatory shrouds. In 'Catholics', the sacred and profane, the humorous and tragic, the zine and literary fine-press all end up as strange bedfellows in desperate need of confession.

"The book's eight prose sections are both anecdotal and informational. Their design is a nod to twentieth-century trade publications — books, but also periodicals. In these sections, magazines and newspapers recur as central objects, and the tell-all nature of the book’s subject matter often feels worthy of the scandal sheets. Because of this, I’ve drawn inspiration from the designers, compositors, and printers who once worked to produce mass-market ephemera. …

"Also included at intervals, always on the recto, is a series of seven communion wafers/solar crosses. Printed with heavy impression from photopolymer plates, these images are surrounded by Bruce Rogers–inspired frames printed from metal typographic ornaments that alchemically shift throughout the course of the book. The wafers/solar crosses animate their own narrative, a transmuting framework that comments on the book’s other threads. …

"The book’s three illustrated saints—portrayed by Joan Crawford and Tallulah Bankhead—are directly referenced in the prose sections, as are the objects surrounding them. Their layout is inspired by the quincunx, a sacred formation where one central image is surrounded by four smaller objects at each corner. In Renaissance art, these four objects often represent aspects of the fourfold world: humors, elements, seasons, gospels, or some other system of correspondences. …

"Three eulogiae — portfolios in the spirit of acheiropoieta (icons generated miraculously rather than by human hand) — rely heavily on collage. Sixth-century pilgrims to sacred sites in Europe carried away tiny clay or glass ampullae that contained traces of dirt, oil, or water found at the visited shrine. Diagrammatic images of the location were also rendered on the exteriors of these souvenirs, called eulogiae. Each eulogia in 'Catholics' attempts to conjure remembered space in a similar way: handwritten text and collaged images function as both architecture and performance."

Catholics book
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Page last update: 04.09.2024



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