Author: Martine Syms
Publisher: Primary Information (2020)
A new artist’s book by California-based artist Martine Syms (born 1988), Shame Space explores the possibilities of narrative and identity, collecting journal writings by the artist from 2015 to 2017 in which she attempts to capture her shadow self, alongside image stills from the video project Ugly Plymouths. The text entries form the voiceover of Mythiccbeing (pronounced “my thick being’), a “black, upwardly mobile, violent, solipsistic, sociopathic, gender-neutral femme” digital avatar who has iterated across several of Syms’ recent exhibitions. In Syms’ installations, Mythiccbeing manifests variously in video, audio and as an interactive chatbot that responds to the viewer’s communications with messages and animations. In Shame Space, the character’s autofictional, diaristic commentary is gathered into 15 chapters. Its design updates the Bible format with its A5 size, embossed leather-textured cover and gold edge painting. The Ugly Plymouths still-image selection was coded using a programming script, such that the design, like the chatbot’s SMS responses, is an exercise in machine automation.