by Johanna Drucker
Prove before Laying is a book about the constraints and limits of language as a system (within the rules of grammar and syntax and orthography). The limit of a single font of type is the finitude of the letters – the actual number of "e's" or "a's", while the limits of what can be stated are constrained by conventions. The initial phrase of the title derives from the foundry label on new type advising the printer to proof the font before setting it. "Figuring the word" refers to the process of drawing into focus a text latent within the letterpress font in a statement about aesthetics, language, and thought. Accompanying this is a second text, printed from polymer plates, which addresses the history of writing as technology, mythology, and cultural form.
The book is printed letterpress in red and black, on Rives Lightweight, in an edition of 40 copies, case-bound in boards printed by the artist/author.