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David Paton


David is currently Senior lecture and Head of the Department of Visual Art of the University of Johannesburg. He received a B.A.F.A. majoring in Printmaking with a distinction in History of Art at the University of the Witwatersrand in 1984. He has also received a Higher Diploma in Education (postgraduate), a M.A.F.A. at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2001 and a Cert. H.E. Man P&DM from the University of the Witwatersrand in 2008. David teaches Studio Practice at undergraduate levels, and is also involved with supervising Master students. He has curated and held various exhibitions all over South Africa as well as in New York. David shows a fond interest in artists’ books, and has co-edited and co-authored various publications, and written a number of published articles on the topic.


Title Speaking in Tongues: Speaking Digitally / Digitally Speaking
Medium Mixed media
Dimensions 156mm high x 111mm wide (closed), Various dimentions possible (open)
Edition Unique
Price -


The book is a small concertina-fold book with 175 pages of laser-printed images divided into two chapters: The first, Speaking Digitally, comprises an animated series of my youngest son Liam’s subtly moving hands while gaming online.

The second chapter, Digitally Speaking, is an animated series of my mother Shirley’s dynamically moving hands while conducting a conversation with the artist. The book is designed for multiple openings and multiple ways of negotiating the narrative: it can be paged through, page by page; or it can be opened in such a way as to allow both chapters to be paged through simultaneously. It is possible to open the book in its entirery so that every page is visible - very unbook-like.

The concertina-fold structure hints at being a possible flipbook, given its small size, facilitating the ability of the pages to be flipped so as to pass like the video. But its structure hinders the successful flipping of the pages in order to replicate the video which can be projected ahead of it. Being difficult to handle, it refuses to keep a stable form – a book with a mind of its own is an idea that appeals to me. The many still drawings of my son’s hands for the animation section of the video are locked onto a double-page spread and given a duration which they cannot receive in the video. Likewise, the long contemplative sections of the video (my mother’s hands) are reduced to a manageable size which can be haptically and quickly manipulated: a book of active hands held in the hands and manipulated at another pace seemed like an interesting idea. By avoiding a spine, the hands pass across the gutter without visual and structural interruption. The title refers to the faith I need to make art in a space and time which actively fights against this very activity as well as the faith I have in a visual language which does not communicate conventionally. My mother, who speaks in tongues, and who has probably read more books than most, might like this idea, while the idea of ‘the passing of time’ vs. psychological duration is, of course, Henri Bergson’s.