Book Launch: Fair Use (notes from spam) by Graham Parker

Now based in New York (having lived in Manchester for many years), for much of the last decade Graham Parker has been making artworks with and about spam — the despised white noise haunting the information age. In Fair Use, his first book, Parker offers us a selection of his “notes from spam”— essays, projects and fragments from his growing archive of research and writings on this most contemporary phenomenon and its historical analogues.

Presented as five short books in a slipcase, each section of Fair Use starts from a different site and time on earth, presented in separate, non-linear accounts that leap centuries and continents to invite the reader to discover and filter unexpected connections and continuity.

Beautifully illustrated with Graham Parker’s artworks, as well as maps, photos and ‘found’ e-mails, the fragmented structure of Fair Use offers no reliable starting point for the reader, but, in the spirit of its subject, repeatedly resets them to experience another claim, from another space and time — with the abundant footnotes sometimes deliberately serving as much to disorientate as inform. Neither wholly artist’s monologue or critical commentary, Fair Use is happy to pass as either from moment to moment, changing modes as elusively as its protagonists, yet speaking in a single, playful voice through each incarnation. The result is a dizzying and complex tracing of a delinquent urge through several paradigms of human communication — a poetic and humorous reading of the con and the global trash and vanities it travels through.

Manchester figures prominently in Fair Use. The essay Petrol Liar is ostensibly about an encounter with a con artist on the street outside Cornerhouse, but quickly mutates into a condensed cultural history of the city and the claims made on its behalf at different moments (claims with their own ‘generous’ relationship with the truth). And Parker credits his time in Manchester and the key projects he made there, for his ongoing working methodology of abstracting from digital data and archives to map back onto the physical locations and relationships that generated that data. Now he returns to the city to launch this exciting project that brings the life of Manchester together with stories from New York, Lagos, Cheyenne and Catalonia. We hope you will join us.

Signed copies of the book will be available for purchase on the evening.