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Project Statement

by T.Shaw

The intent of this project is to clarify the artist's work in topology and make a lengthy statement on her process (affectively an end as well as the means, in this case). In particular, Gordon uses the classical Proteus myth to metaphorically relate to the protean changes she effects in imagery. In the 1970's and 80's Bonnie Gordon traced the connections between a half-tone photograph and definitions found in Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged. The photograph, reportedly found in a Santa Monica, California junk shop, is of an "everyman" wearing a common shirt and tie. Every word used by Gordon, in connection with the photograph, was provided by the Merriam-Webster's dictionary. Gordon's project was to trace chance associations between the photograph and found words in order to "reveal or reify deep-rooted attitudes and experiences" that make our human bodies out of language. The project is enhanced (but also constrained) by three subjects besides the human figure: the color black, half-tone screen or pattern, and the action of stretching.

The Anatomy of Proteus

Bonnie Gordon

title note: subtitle: According to Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged [T.Shaw]


Bonnie Gordon

type: initiating


active: United States

publication: 1982-00-00

Visual Studies Workshop Press

type: initiating


New York Council on the Arts

type: other

Provided support through an individual projects grant

Publication Information

publisher: Visual Studies Workshop Press

production: 1982-00-00

publication history: One edition printed and distributed by Visual Studies Workshop Press [T. Shaw]

Aesthetic Profile

conceptual (AAT)
systemic (AAT)
language poetry (local)

puzzles (LCSH)
unknown Topology

themes: Protean shape shifting, language and the human body [T. Shaw]

content form:
Scientific Study

publication tradition:
artists' book (local)
process (local)

related works: other titles by the author The Four Temperaments, 1974, and Anatomy of Image Maps, 1982 [T. Shaw]

community: press Visual Studies Workshop Press [T. Shaw]

Related Documents

manuscript type: mockups

location: other Press sheets and related ephemera exist in Visual Studies Workshop Press's production archive.

note: The artist has been working on this project for decades. Doubtless innumerable documents exist in her personal archive in Buffalo, NY pertaining to the book and project.