by Emily Hunt
Tom Phillips first transformed A Human Document, a Victorian novel by W. H. Mallock (1892), into A Humument in 1970 and has since completed four volumes. Um Um: A Novel To Lips is an alteration of his 1st volume.
Flipping through the densely inked and painted pages, I was tempted to cover the majority of them with cool, quiet, thick white paint. I found pleasure in cleaning up each composition, whiting out excess noise in the images, and condensing the narrative to the point where some pages now display only a single word – or even a single letter – on which the reader can zero in. I used an Xacto knife to scratch away certain words, and I have collected the dust of this text in a cigarette carton. The second sentence of Um Um references the use of the knife: “Purple inside my um um operation, a sharp and swell tongue.” The remainder of this sentence extends the significance of the tongue, “softened a moment to eat a picture.”
Click here to view images of several pages and here to read a selection of the narrative.