On the 5th of November 1966 Tom Phillips CBE RA wanted to find an old book for threepence and alter every page with various techniques to create an entirely new work. Whilst hunting through a pile of books in a Peckham warehouse he chanced upon A Human Document (1892), a little known novel by W. H. Mallock. Phillips's treatment A Humument, is a contraction of the original title, its first reworking was printed privately in 1973, and now almost 50 years later he continues to revise and develop it.
In Gallery X at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition you will find, in three tiers, the first 48 pages of Mallock's original novel, Phillips's first version of A Humument and his final treatment of these same pages. The exhibit also includes a continuation of the second version of A Humument virtually entire, running in page order. A group of fine art print versions of 20 of the pages, Mallock's original A Human Document and Tom Phillips's most recent edition of A Humument are also on display.
The artist explains: "Like most projects that end up lasting a lifetime, this had its germ in idle play at what then seemed to be the fringe of my activities. A love of words, plus the related influences of William Burroughs and John Cage with their use of chance, had led me into casual experiments with partly obliterated texts. By the date of the encounter with Mallock I had already begun to toy with the idea of treating a book in the same fashion".
Tom Phillips Pages from A Humument with be on show from 23rd July to 29th August, at Flowers New York - Tom Phillips - Pages from A Humument