Caroline Bergvall & Nick Thurston

Price £1.50+pp
ISBN 9780955309298
Year 2009
Pages 16
stapled; softback
Illustration text only
Dimensions 105 x 74 mm

With its simple and precise composition this pocketbook layers the tension between the technical history and the socio-metaphorical extension of the ‘cliché’.

Firmin Didot’s (1764-1836) innovation of stereoplate printing revolutionised type-setting, and the method became synonymous with the dabbing sound of the matrix hitting molten metal to cast the die, onomatopoeically rendered in his native French as ‘cliché’. Just as Scotsman William Ged’s (1699-1749) ill-fated experiments with casting regularly used blocks of moveable type into single metal slugs earlier in the eighteenth century had founded the idea of stereotyping, as a technical printer’s term, the conceptual extension of the cliché and stereotype as social metaphors followed the idea of repeated, solidly pre-set phrases. The pejorative modern connotations of being reductive, ill-representative and over-used are now embedded in both the two words themselves and the idea of using predetermining identifications. THE DIE IS CAST is professionally offset litho printed on the cheapest recycled paper. With one staple, one fold, the equivalent paper of one A4 sheet, and one determinedly grey ink this pocketbook inverts the logic and format of the codex publication to overlay the shapes, sounds and metaphors of common English clichés about clichés.

Launched at ‘Miss Read’, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, 4-6 Sptember, 2009.


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