Artist as Collectors of Info: let’s get personal – olivia ciummo

I was thinking about the differences between practices of artists in book collecting as to people who collect books for their rarity. I guess it is self-explanatory as to how and why a person would collect for the sake of collecting an object, pretty straightforward.  I guess the question I ask is it the same for artist?

With artist I found a distinct engagement in the way the collection is formed, the content and cataloging. A personal connection to the collection rather than a collection biased on accumulation of rare forms.  I’m not saying all that collectors outside of the realm of art have no connection to the content of their collection. Rather the idea of contrasting and comparing collecting objects for personal reference to collecting objects for sequential relevance due out of a system of capitalist (meaning money making) publishing.

I interviewed filmmaker, video maker and artist tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE to investigate the functions of his book collection. (please note the questions I ask) I also referenced Martha Rosler’s collection to look for similarities in these two artists’ trade of collecting books. This I contrast with book collectors of another kind. Such as noted in Baudrillard’s The System of Objects (I know we all love Baudrillard) page 93. He accounts a story told by Maurice Rheims (art collector and writer on art) about a bibliophile that dealt with unique and original copies of books, who one day learned about a second copy of a particular book. Leaning this he tracked down the location, bought the book burned it and had a lawyer draw up a legal document stating that his copy was now the ONLY copy. This is the contrast I speak of between artist that collect and collectors, though possibly extreme.  The notion of objectification and putting forth the effort of doing violent actions to identify the object as an object to be counted, collected or amassed.  This I think is absent form the story on Martha Rosler’s website ( and form the interview below with tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE. These artist have collected to do research, to understand knowledge and to use it to make art. Not to own an object.


When did you start being a book collector? Was it a particular book or subject that got you started?

The value of the books that I collect is based on their content & the significance of that content to me personally NOT on market value – which would usually be contrary to what I consider to be important.  It’s also based on how rare the content of the book is.

For example, I’m not as likely to buy a mass-market cookbook, even though the recipes might be useful, just because there’s no ‘need’ for my library to contain a book that’s likely to be found easily elsewhere.  The books I acquire are books I intend to READ or, at least, use as a reference work.  As such, I’m much more likely to look for rare music theory, politics, film history, science, literature, art, etc, books than I am for something as omnipresent as something by a popular horror writer, eg.  I won’t get a book just because it’s a 1st edition or some such, but I will look for publications that I think will be hard to find because they’re small editions, etc..

How you go about searching for books on the Internet? Do you still use methods of searching other than the Internet?

I’m almost constantly researching & looking for books that might be valuable sources for me to study.  EG: after we talked on the phone tonight, I started thinking that I should read that Iranian book of the so-called ‘terrorist’ confessions that I was lucky enough to pick up an English-language copy of in Australia.  That got me to thinking about Reza Baraheni, the author of “The Crowned Cannibals: Writings on Repression in Iran”.  Reza was an Iranian poet in exile in the USA who had been tortured under the Shah’s secret police, SAVAK.  I knew him in Baltimore & we both gave readings at a friend’s apartment one night in Baltimore in the late 1970s.  I decided that I should read his book 1st so I went online & ordered a copy of it (only $5.00 w/ shipping!).  That means I’ve now set in motion YET-ANOTHER research for myself.

How do you go about lending books out?

If someone that I know will benefit from or appreciate the book I will lend it out to them
(unless it’s TOO irreplaceable).  The lending process is ‘controlled’ by trust and memory. For example, if someone borrows a book it’s up to them to remember to return it.  If it’s been a long time and I see that the book is still missing I’ll harass them to return it.  If neither they nor I remember then it’s a loss. I don’t lend to people I don’t know.
My system isn’t that different from any other lending library except that it’s based more on trust & doesn’t have a bureaucracy.

How do you catalog each item?

Again, not THAT differently from any other library insofar as books are organized according to content rather than by, say, the cover’s color or some such.  The organizational categories are simply very common ones that I’m likely to remember such as Literature, Art, and Film, etc. But these categories aren’t necessarily the best for accuracy.  For example, Timothy Leary can be found under Drugs, though he might be more correctly filed under philosophy – I just put his books under drugs because I mostly associate him with expanded consciousness research that involves LSD, etc.

When did you start being a book collector? Was it a particular book or subject that got you started?

When I was a little kid my elementary school had a few book sales
& I got a copy of a book of limericks & illustrations by Edward Lear
called “A Book of Nonsense”.  I probably had other books before that
but that’s the one that really sticks in my mind as somehow ‘precious’
– ‘precious’ in the sense of seeming almost magically wonderful to me.

How you go about searching for books on the internet?

I rarely search for books on the internet.  If I did I’d have to use extreme critical limitations or it would be too expensive.

Do you still use methods of searching other than the internet?

I mainly look for books in used book stores, at library sales, yard sales,
that sort of thing.  Wherever they can be gotten cheapest or for free.

If you are especially eager to obtain a copy of a particular book, do you buy one in lesser condition if that is all that’s available?

Condition is of little importance except insofar as it effect readability.
I want all of its pages to be there..  that sort of thing.

Do you upgrade to a better copy when one becomes available?

Not usually.  I’d rather get a different book than repeat.

What other hobbies, interests, or recreation or arts, etc., do you enjoy?

I’m interested in almost everything EXCEPT sports.

What would you like to tell us, business or personal, about yourself?

electronically signed,


Amir-ul Kafirs

Some tenuous beginnings of P.N.T. (Perverse Number Theory):
(for all x)x = (for all x)x (Anything is Anything)
(A Double Negative As Not A Positive)
(A finite quantity represented as a set containing
an infinite quantity of its subdivisions
(such as its subdivision in terms of rational numbers)
does not equal the same finite quantity
represented as a set containing an infinite quantity
OF A DIFFERENT DEGREE of its subdivisions
(such as its subdivision in terms of irrational numbers).)
m + n does not equal n + m is isomorphic to x
the ceiling of x is greater than or equal to the ceiling of the ceiling of x
(Enough is Enough)
The Formula of the Origin of the H.M. (Hermaphrodite Mafia):
(S0+S0) = so&so (predicate: 1 + 1 = the free variable so-&-so)
interpretation 01: predicate:
The successor to zero plus the successor to zero
equals the free variable so-&-so.
interpretation 02: predicate:
Parents have produced a child
that transcends their fixed gender status.

Some tenuous beginnings of I.J.T. (Internal Jumbling Technique):
The biran of hdeas teird & selpt ’til its biarn was in a wreid sacpe.  It cvread the stlay crud on its berad & in its driay snak in the sitan of the bran & the bran aklie.

Work will make you Free Trade,

anonymous /
David A. Bannister / Luther Blissett / Monty Cantsin / Karen Eliot /
E.G.Head / id ntity / Tim Ore / Party Teen on Couch #2 /
RATical / Alan Smithee / SpRATacus / tANGO, aLPHA cHARLIE /
1/2 of “Who is like God?s”

For a highly abridged promotional lo-fi version of my “Book ‘Em” documentary:

For a copy of my book that references my 1st 9 books:

For info about the press that published the above:

Here’s a recent article I wrote about my friend Bruce Stater’s writing:,com_docman/task,doc_download/gid,32/+Staterment&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=5&gl=us

The video of my presentation at THE INFLUENCERS fest in Barcelona in 2004
can be accessed @:
wch surprises me because I was pretty unpopular there.

For 2 volumes of my “Piano Illiterature” on the Internet Archive:
Thanks to the ever-lovin’ Germaine Fodor for putting this on-line!!

the “Whoop Up @ the Funny Farm” audio track
from the “Luther Blissett – Open Pop Star” CD
can be downloaded from:

An outdated version or another of the venerable Seven by Nine Squares is available at:

A subset of the above concentrating on my writings being:

S.P.C.S.M.E.F. web-site: <;
or is it: <;

tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE action reports:
or is it: <;?

“History Begins Where Life Ends” can be read at:

WIdémoUTH tapes related text: <;
or: <;

Now available for download, Retrograde Release no. 28, February 2004:
PhonoStatic 27′ cassette
Description: <;
(direct download of 11 ogg vorbis file available on above link)
This includes my 8:20 sped-up piano piece entitled:
“It’s Not As Easy As You Might Think To Be A Pseudo-Virtuoso (#2)”

Downloads from CD release of Scrape Audio Magazine #1:
“Tone Fones Duet” & “Top Bottom”
are available at:


N.A.A.M.C.P.: <;
or is it: <;

I reckon that one of these yrs there’ll be link from here:
to the vaudeo I made about the Industrial Arts Co-Op’s Deerhead sculpture.

Mottos & Slogans:

“Anything is Anything”
“No More Punching-Bag Clowns!”
“Neoism Now! & Then!”;
“Kill Normality Before It Kills You!”
“The Revenge of the Impotent is to Try to Neuter the Fertile”
“Before You Decide Against Biting the Hand That Feeds You,
Ask Why It Has So Much Food in the First Place”
“WE are all UNEQUAL under the LAW & THAT is its PURPOSE!”
“USICIAN, Use Thyself!”


Mad Scientist / d composer / Sound Thinker / Thought Collector / As Been /
PIN-UP (Postal Interaction Network Underground Participant) /
Headless Deadbeat of the Pup tENT Cult /
booed usician / Low Classicist / H.D.J. (Hard Disc Jockey) /
Psychopathfinder / Jack-Off-Of-All-Trades / criminally sane /
Homonymphonemiac / Practicing PromoTextual /
Air Dresser /
Sprocket Scientist / headitor & earchivist / Explicator /
Sexorcist /
Professional Resister of Character Defamation /
Proponent of Classification-Resistant What-Have-Yous /
Princess of Dorkness’s Right Hand Man /
Human Attention-ExSpanDex Speculum /
Imp Activist /
SPLEENIUS / Cognitive Dissident

social associations:

nuclear brain physics surgery’s cool founder & graduate
Krononaut / Church of the SubGenius Santa / Neoast?! / Pregroperativist
talent scout for Olfactories Organized
S.S.S.B.ite (Secret Society for Strange Behaviour -ite)
(Anti-Secret Society for Strange Behaviour Asshole Son-of-a-Bitch)
member of the I.S.C.D.S. (International Stop Continental Drift Society)
1 time supporter of the ShiMo Underground
Ballooning One in the Fructiferous Society
founder & president of the N.A.A.M.C.P.
(National Association for the Advancement of Multi-Colored Peoples)
co-founder of the S.P.C.S.M.E.F.
(Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Sea Monkeys
by Experimental Filmmakers)
Borderline Kneelite in the KNEEHIGHS GANG
emphatic member of the No-No Class
Street Rat Liberation Front
Money Against Capitalism
What?! Collective

“Why, if we allow them to think for themselves there would be anarchy!”
– a fictitious quote from Daniel Webster

The PRESENT of Information Storage/Retrieval
lies in understanding how to decode-from/encode-in ANY medium
(such as the surface you’re reading this from)

File under DDC#040.002

One response to “Artist as Collectors of Info: let’s get personal – olivia ciummo

  1. There are some interesting links in the text you’ve offered. It’s not clear what the connection of those links are to the interview or your discussion of collecting though. I suppose we get a bit of a view of tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE’s collected works, so to speak, but it is quite scattered and many of the links are in fact broken. Somewhat intriguing however, are the appropriately loose associations with situationist international, Yawn, ART Strike, Monty Cantsin, SMILE magazine, etc.

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