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Thursday, November 16, 2017

100 Novel Art Project: Typing 100 Novels on 100 Pages in 10 Years

Tim Youd, a performance artist, is half way through his 100 Novels project in which he plans, over a 10-year period, to type 100 novels, each on a single sheet of paper.  Each novel will be typed on the same make/model typewriter in a location charged with literary significance specific to the subject novel.  For example, he typed William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury at Faulkner’s former home in Oxford, Mississippi, and Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms at Lake Maggiore in Switzerland where the novel’s protagonist crosses the lake in an escape to neutral territory.

Youd explains the process:  “Each novel is retyped on a single sheet of paper, backed by a second sheet, run repeatedly through the typewriter.  As the retyping progresses, the top sheet becomes saturated with ink, while the undersheet becomes embossed with indentation.  As the top sheet further distresses, ink bleeds through to the undersheet.  At the end of the performance, the two sheets are separated, and mounted side-by-side in a diptych.  This diptych serves as a formal relic, containing the repeated rectangle within the rectangle geometry present in two pages of an open book. The entire novel is present, but entirely illegible” (http://timyoud.com/100-novels.html). 

Youd claims that his ability to read in a deep and devoted way has improved.  He explains that, “The performance itself is a devotional and close reading of the novel (the reading is silent, the sound is the typewriter alone).  My endeavor is not merely to copy the book, it is to experience deep engagement with the book.  As I have come to understand the project, it is at its heart an effort to be a truly good reader every time I sit down, and to become a better reader as I continue to move through the entire 100 novel cycle.  Most people have had the out-of-body experience that occurs during the course of an engrossing read.  It is a transportation to a higher plane of consciousness, and I think may be equivalent to a religious ecstasy” (http://timyoud.com/100-novels.html). 

For some photos of the completed diptychs, go to http://timyoud.com/diptychs.html.  The http://timyoud.com/ site also has performance photos and a list of completed novels.