Tom Phillips, A Humument, 2005
A Humument is an art book created by Tom Phillips by painting, drawing, and collaging over all 290 pages of W. H. Mallock’s 1892 novel A Human Document. To produce this new work Phillips took words or parts of words and strung them together on the page to form new sentences and ideas. In doing this he created a mesh of the original text and his additions forcing the viewer to decipher what is real and what is altered. Phillips has said that his initial reasons for using Mallock’s book were serendipitous, as he purchased the book for a mere 3 pence at a used book shop in 1966. Phillips has said Mallock comes across in his book as a “snob and a racist,” but despite these offenses, Philipps says as a source for inspiration for his work “the book is a feast. I have never come across its equal in later and more conscious searches. Its vocabulary is rich and lush and its range of reference and allusion large.” The first complete version of A Humument appeared in 1973 and over the intervening years Phillips has continued to rework pages and has published four subsequent editions. All of the examples shown here are from the latest edition published in 2005.