My fascination with books, language and communication is often based more on what is unsaid than said. Blank book pages become carriers of shadow, fleeting memories, peripheral presence. Yet the shadow is indexical to physical presence, another conundrum to define whether the shadow’s origin is threatening or benign. Comprehension is elusive at best.
These pieces began with photographing blank end pages from a volume of The History and Adventures of Joseph Andrews and his Friend Mr. Abraham Adams by Henry Fielding with wood-engravings by Derrick Harris, published in 1953 by the Folio Society of Westminster. I was originally drawn to collect the book because of the wood-engravings, but the opportunity of the blank page quickly became apparent.
In the Preface, the author describes the story of the book as a “comic romance” which is “a comic epic poem in prose…” He describes the vices found within as “accidental consequences of human frailty or foible…habitually existing in the mind.” I did not read this until after I made the images, but I find serendipity in the description that the vices are those that “exist in the mind,” an apt metaphor for the images that I have made. The series title, Habitual Mind is a nod to the source and this thought. The titles of the individual pieces are derived from the text in passages where the title character uses foreign words in an attempt to seduce a lover or impress an acquaintance.