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A Humument: A Treated Victorian Novel

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Overall: 4 out of 5. Worth it to at least look through, if not pour-over, but this comes with the caveat that you MUST know what you’re getting into.

Tom Phillips was genuinely learned in the best sense," Norman Rosenthal, a long-time Royal Academy colleague, said following Phillips's death. "He was a true polymath deeply versed in literature, music, and most of all of course in visual art and its practice through his own very personal touch. But also the most witty of individuals, aware of the ironic failings of all three of these endlessly wide worlds of culture, which yet he simultaneously always cherished and loved." TP: The cover picture serves to identify one edition from another. The most recent echoes the first and says that I am still forging on. The cover as it appears on the iPhone/iPad app is the best, taking advantage of a changing image. I sometimes imagine the whole book like that were there but world enough and time. Limited edition prints A Humument p6: The Man as Photograph and A Humument p.363 Twilight of the Planet (produced for The Guardian climate change auction), are exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition Imaginary Postcards, with Jonathan Williams (pub. Trigram Press), A Humument Volume VIII (Tetrad Press), Works/Texts to 1974 (pub. editions hansjorg mayer) Irma by AMM & Tom Phillips is released on CD by Matchless Recordings listen here on UBU web http://www.ubu.com/sound/phillips.htmlIn an interview in the Guardian the following year, he said: “I could have imagined doing a third, but that would have taken another 25. So I’d be a dribbling 105-year-old, or more likely dead, before I finished it. It was time to stop.”

Six of Hearts is released on Largo Records. The songs, written for and performed by Mary Weigold are based on Humument texts. This recording by The Composers Ensemble, conducted by John Woolrich To some, Phillips’s erasure art will appear a belated revisitation or, worse, a depoliticized rip-off of the familiar collagist, plagiarist and other foundist methods of modernism and/or a mere epiphenomenon of the much-celebrated cut-up method, write-through experiments, or what Kenneth Goldsmith recently theorized and promoted as “uncreative writing” (Goldsmith 2011). Others will regard it as an interventionist trend which seeks to rescue the critical and revolutionary potential of experimentalism from the aporias of postmodern pastiche and quotationism. Phillips received the Frances Williams Memorial Prize in 1983 for his illustration and new translation of Dante's Inferno. He also made a TV version of the Inferno with Peter Greenaway which won them jointly as directors the Italia prize. At Leiston Middle School in Suffolk students create an altered novel in the style of A Humument in response to a lecture by Tom Phillips CORTEXt: a survey of recent visual poetry Hermetic Gallery Milwaukee featuring A Humumentwith catalogueCover artwork for the album Tom Phillips Words & Music features fragments from A Humument. (edition hansjorg mayer) while in the publication, Tom Phillips Works Texts to 1974 (edition hansjorg mayer) Phillips writes extensively about A Humument and other Humument related projects, such as plans for the ballet The Quest for Grenvill. For nearly twenty years, I have collected the artistic, literary, and musical works of Tom Phillips, whom I have known as a friend and as his patron. To express succinctly my appreciation and description of his work, I utilise the word "Humumentism," one that I coined from Phillips's seminal, visual-poetic artist's book, A Humument. Although it might appear brash to ascribe an art form to an individual rather than a group of artists, I feel pressed to do so on several counts, not least because his multi-leveled creative accomplishments so discomfort the critical sector that interprets them. Phillips has always worked in parallel styles and themes, in sharp contrast to most successful artists, whose art is easily identified by a single style of the moment with changes, if ever, progressing serially over time. Human beings generally feel more at ease with an artist who has a single style and are put off by having to adjust to an artist whose style, thematic material, and medium all abruptly change. Humument treatment applied to cover design for Dark Star (EMI records): two more covers follow in 1999 A Humument p.361 Doing Italy, A Humument p.349 We Start Tomorrow and A Humument p.117 A Number Were Gay limited edition screenprints are exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition Academic paper I Find / I Found Myself / and / Nothing / More than That: Textuality, Visuality, and the Production of Subjectivity in Tom Phillips' A Humument" by James L. Maynard, The Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association Vol. 36, No. 1, Thinking Post-Identity (Spring), pp. 82-98, pub. Midwest Modern Language Association

Phillips has worked on this novel? poem? art piece? for 50 years. In 2017, the final version of the work will be published. It has been used as the basis of an opera (in 1969), a digital app, exhibitions, and several published versions. The book seems inexhaustible in its possibilities both for other art/poetry works and reading pleasure. Molly Schwartzburg contributes an essay, Tracing Traces: Variations on the Theme of the Palimpsest in Tom Phillips' A Humument, to the publication The Visual-Narrative Matrix, Southampton institute ed Graham Coulter-Smith Two series of gouache paintings The Quest for Irma and Ma Vlast incorporate fragments from A Humument

Essays

Like most projects that end up lasting half a lifetime, this started out as idle play at the fringe of my work and preoccupations. I had read an interview with William S. Burroughs ( Paris Review, 1965) and, as a result, had played with the 'cut up' technique, making my own variant (the columnedge poem) from current copies of the New Statesman. It seemed a good idea to push these devices into more ambitious service. Treatment and Transformation: Tom Phillips's A Humument. Thesis by Elizabeth Elsas. Pub. Harvard University A further Humument collage work Memory After Memory published as a limited edition print for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition In an age of uncertainty that does not cease to proclaim the death of the avant-garde and in which “suspicious readings” have become the norm, the refiguration (and disfiguration) of found texts has become an important part of experimental literary and artistic production since the 1960s (which, incidentally, is when the failure of the “historical”, self-critical avant-garde reached its apex, at least according to Peter Bürger’s controversial thesis, see Bürger 1984).

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