The book I unwrapped was called “Contemporary Artists in Camden” (CAiC) and had the feeling of an art book; something that would reveal something about the artists and their work.   The hard-backed book with embossed title looked like the sort of thing I have on a shelf at home, outlining the key moments and players in some important movement in art history.  However, closer inspection showed that it was merely a list of qualifications and exhibitions for each artist.  It turns out that my book was an exhibition catalogue for an exhibition of artists working in Camden in 1981 and presumably the reason it had such a seemingly over-the-top binding was because it was an important anniversary exhibition for the Trust that ran the Camden Arts Centre.  However, although they’d gone to a lot of trouble to make it look like an important hard-backed book, there obviously wasn’t money for colour reproductions and the pages were rather haphazardly “aligned” so that margins were inconsistent throughout; some pages were squint, the text was cramped and not easy to read, and I also found the odd typo.  Although some layout elements were quite charming and obviously deliberate, the whole thing felt like it had been put together in a rush and on a very tight budget which was at odds with the first impression of quality - it seemed to me that it was almost trying to be something ‘more’ than it really was.

 

In the Foreword to the book, there was a quotation from a film that says “Things….revolve around a name.” and I was frustrated by the fact that for all these artists in the book I had little more than a name to go on. There was really no other useful information, especially in regard to their working practice; the black and white illustrations were not great quality and didn’t really do justice to the pieces, some of which weren’t even in the exhibition. I wasn’t entirely sure what “use” the book was beyond being a list of contributors, and I wanted to know more about these artists and their work.

 

As a starting point to find out more about the artists in CAiC, I turned to Google and went on something of a wild goose chase involving typos and mistaken identities.  It was frustrating to realise that several of the artists were buried in the search engine because they shared the same name with other people; sports personalities for instance, or just a lot of people who were coming up because they were on Twitter or Facebook.  The tool that was supposed to help with my research was actually being a hindrance and obscuring the information that I was looking for.  This prompted the idea behind my new book; take the names of the artists and re-create their pages with the “wrong” people.

 

I chose Twitter as the source of my new “contributors” because it seems to me that social media is a new form of mass exhibitionism. It’s not only artists who can “exhibit” their work; we can all lay our innermost thoughts bare for public consumption.

 


'# Doppelgängers' borrows heavily from the original in terms of the layout of text because I wanted an element of mirroring; the new content should reflect the old, and I liked the rather odd layout of the original. I didn’t want to lose the original content but I did want it to appear “under” the Tweetists’ output because I’d had to dig around all that to find information on the artists. Using tracing paper for the Tweetist’s pages gave some transparency, just as the internet seems to make our lives transparent for all and it reinforced the idea of ‘layers’ of information. To keep everything I’d found in some semblance of order I’d created folders on my computer and as I was creating a kind of “dossier” on each person, I decided that the new book should have folders too.


In effect, I’d taken on the role of curator as I selected which Tweets to include and which of the Tweetist’s images from their feed to replicate in the book. Not every artist had a Twitter Namesake, and not every namesake had an interesting feed to select from so availability informed the initial selection process. I had also decided to create a “mash up” of the artists’ images with something from the Doppelgänger’s feed so there needed to be an image that had potential for that. These represent the confusion that I felt while searching the artists on Google and also offer the reader something to engage with - an element that was really missing from the original book.


Although I attempted to accurately replicate much of the layout of the original, I didn’t want my new book to be a complete facsimile. There was something not quite honest about the hard backed version and so I wanted to create something that reflected the budget instead of trying to dress it up as something else, which is why I opted for a wire spiral binding and paper covers. Although the new book borrows layout elements from the original, it’s really a response to the frustration I felt that the original didn’t give much away, the confusion I felt when trying to address that and the issue of identity in the days of social media.