“Dust Jacket Expressionism” Lecture by Buzz Spector

Photo of Buzz Spector
Photo courtesy of Sharde Knight

Artist Buzz Spector proved how objects’ beauty is a matter of perspective in his lecture on Wednesday March 11. Through this lecture, he highlighted the aesthetic value found in book dust jackets. In keeping with his motif of using books in his artwork, Spector showcased many of his pieces in which he stylistically incorporates elements of dust jackets into his works.

Frequently overlooked due to their commonplace appearance, Spector argued that the dust jacket is one of the most crucial parts of the book in selling the product. Every part of it, from the cover, to the plot blurb, the author’s biography and picture must be presented in a way that attracts readers and persuades them to purchase the book.

It is from these parts of dust jackets that Spector has comprised many of his recent pieces: clipping out photos of similarly posed authors from the actual jackets and arranging them into collages, or isolating the final line from various plot blurbs to compose original poetry. It’s a lengthy process, but Spector believes that it matters to find the proper colors and form from the jacket’s details, in addition to the language, when developing these literary artistic pieces.

“I tear stuff up or I stack things,” he stated, referring to his work method.

He exhibited this technique in a photographic presentation of his creations, which included sculptures of books literally stacked and fitted amongst each other to form larger shapes and three-dimensional figures. Other works were books with purposefully torn pages that Spector intended to “open like an ocean…in which every successive page would be a little bit longer than the page before it, so that you see the edge of every page in the book. The front cover would touch the back cover, and you would open it up and all those edges would be like ocean waves.”

Spector noted how this structure is symbolic of what we remember after reading a book: not much information from the very beginning, but gradually more and more as we get closer to the ending.

When asked why he classifies his pieces as performance art, Spector replied, “The ‘doing’ begins with being something other than one’s self. All performance starts with moving out from the ordinary conditions of being, and into some other state.”

“I’m destroying the book in the course of making my work, and proposing that the artifact has value of a different order than the value of the writing,” Spector continued, substantiating his works’ performing characteristics.

Spector received many of his supplies from libraries and has already visited Phillip’s Library and selected some books that he will very likely include in his future compositions.

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