If electronic media is a practical tool for conveying information, books are information sculpture. From now on, books will be judged by how well they awake this materiality, because the decision to create a book at all would be based on a definite choice of paper as a medium.
– Kenya Hara
This wonderful short video documents the work of Craig Jensen of Booklab II a limited edition book binding studio in San Marcos, Texas. I share this in part because of a shared love for book binding, but also because I identify with how Craig talks about the process of building a book. Taking book binding in collage helped me to understand that as an artist I love objects, object creation, material, and processes oriented work. This was true of ceramics and printmaking, but came home in bookbinding.
Craig describes it well:
I like the mechanical aspect of the production. I am really interested in designing systems for how to produce the books at the highest quality; and then i am also quite drawn to the manufacturing process. I really enjoy doing that and trying to make something in multiples that is the quantity that might have often been associated with the single.
Making these books may not result in world peace or end terrorism, but it matters to the people that buy it. It’s art, its a beautiful thing. Thank goodness human beings make art.
– Craig Jensen Booklab II
One of the reasons I love the work of Anselm Kiefer is the visceral response the work generates. Particularly his landscapes. Much of his work seems to be very enigmatic but the emotional and physical response is always there for me.
The first time I saw one of Anselm Kiefer’s painting in person was at SFMoMA. I sat before two of his monumental canvas works, Sulamith 1983 and Osiris und Isis (Osiris and Isis) 1985-1987. Painting is the wrong word to describe the works. They are sculptures on canvas. Sitting in front of Sulamith one could see the artist building his image, drawing a paintbrush or pallet knife through a thick amalgam of oil and straw. You could feel the space, the texture of its dank sooted walls. You could feel Kiefer. You didn’t necessarily need to know the context of his work (though you’re richer for it), his feels came through both in the imagery and process.
It is fascinating to see how he takes his approach to the medium of photography. These photographic landscapes and mix media work come out of a catalog collecting 33 of Kiefer’s book works entitled “Anselm Kiefer: Books 1969-1990“. Some taken by him and others appropriated, he manipulated the images over the progression of the book in a way that literally and figuratively draws your attention to deterioration. Deterioration in the surface of the images and the in unfolding landscape. Images of roads and fields turn dark and foreboding as smoke and fire consume the landscape. His processing similarly consumes the images till in the end your left with blackened final spread.
Olafur Eliasson’s Your House, is a limited-edition artist’s book with a laser-cut negative impression of his house in Copenhagen, Denmark. Each of the 454 pages is individually cut and corresponds to 2.2 cm of the actual house. As readers leaf through the pages, they slowly make their way through the rooms of the house from front to back, thus constructing a mental and physical narrative.
The Mexico – United States Border (East & West) are two accordion books (each 10 x 1000 inches) that examine the entire border through Google Maps satellite imagery: in the West from the Pacific coast’s urbanized area between San Diego and Tijuana, eastward to the Colorado River Delta and Sonoran Desert, through the Chihuahuan Desert, then following the course of the Rio Grande to the Gulf of Mexico in the East. The aerial images are stitched together and straightened along the borderline.