mixed media artist’s book with ladder, shelves, cobbler’s nails, and sound element
Hung on wall: 13 x 1 x 40″; Closed: 13 x 3.25 x 2.5″.
This project was in the works for many years, but didn’t take its final form as an interactive installation until 2018. Its production began during a summer residency at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts where the text was hand-set in metal type and printed on Asuka paper along with imagery that was also letterpress printed on the Vandercook press in the resident’s studio space. The imagery, printed from various relief and collagraph surfaces, represents an imagined slice of earth depicting an abstract representation of geological stratification. The text appears as if embedded within the different layers of earth, frozen in time within the various pockets of geological stratification. I worked to curve and bend the type in the bed of the press so that the text appears pushed and pulled around by geologic forces. The idea was to break the natural grid that printing from metal type normally follows. The writing is made up of my own specific memories from various years throughout my life…concise and unfiltered bits of recollection. The way the text and imagery are presented is intended as a metaphor for the body to reflect how our memories and experiences are embedded, not only in our minds, but in our physical bodies – the actual tissues, muscles, and nervous systems that seem to have a memory all their own. In fact, sometimes our minds let go of memories while our physical bodies retain them.
After the residency, I worked on the binding and structure back in my studio in Reno, NV. The book took shape into an accordion-type structure. I mounted the printed panels to archival board and adhered heavy, course sandpaper to the back sides with book cloth in the joints. I wanted to create a contrast in texture and a stone-like weight to the book – its pages when folded create a kind of stratification as well. The book lives inside a folding case with silver and gold metallic bookcloths being used to highlight organic materials pulled from the earth that are compressed and cured over time. A linen tie wraps around the book and its case – to give it the feel of a field artifact, wrapped for transportation, storage, and further study. In the finished installation the book, in its case, sits on the shelf like an artifact while an open version hangs next to it on the wall.
This is the second project in a series I have been working on titled The Active Reading Series. These works are meant to be experienced, and the artist’s books themselves are considered artifacts of that experience. The works are best shown as installations or video experiences of the work. The question being, do we digest or embody the contents of a book more thoroughly if we are engaged with it physically in some way? This series will hopefully address this question in a playful, but meaningful way. The first book in the series is meant to be read while walking, while Deposits is meant to be read while ascending and descending a short ladder. The installation also involves a sound element. On a shelf above there is a speaker with overlapping voices reading a text (which is different from the text in the book, see optional PDF). The voices layer themselves one over the other speaking of verbal deposits, silted stories, accumulation, compression, erosion, dispersion, verbal veins, and the passage of time. This sound element, played at a low level is meant to lure the reader/viewer up the ladder to engage with the work.