Recently scooped on LitCouture's "The Art of Everyday" topic, this "igloo" installation piece by Colombian artist Miler Lagos is worth highlighting twice! It is constructed entirely of books - but not just any books. Lagos salvaged these books from the library of a US Naval base and fittingly titled it "Home", as it is meant to represent: "Encompassing knowledge and mind adventure while the body remains under a comfortable, predator-free structure" (http://bit.ly/OhkmAw).
The structure is 9 feet tall and made without any kind of glue or paste. The books are placed strategically so that they rely on each other's natural properties to shape the igloo. The pages face outward, creating a predominantly white exterior that resembles an igloo, with blocks of color from the book bindings poking through. The spines, sharing the titles of the former library books, face inward, to be read and appreciated as a visual maze of knowledge.
Nearly half of the structure is notable, however, for not even being there. The rest of the igloo substitutes bricks for books - a work in progress held in the moment. Check out more mindblowing images of the book igloo here: http://bit.ly/OhkmAw.
LitCouture recently spotlighted artist Barbara of ExLibrisPurses on its Wearable Art topic; a link on her Etsy profile led us over to larking, her daughter Courtney's shop. Helping her mom with her handmade book purses helped jumpstart Courtney's own project: "The English teacher in me had a hard time seeing all of those "book insides" sitting in stacks in my mom's crafting room . . . so I decided to start putting them to good use in the form of jewelry and stationery. I love seeing beautiful old pages come to life in a new way!" she shares.
Her shop (and blog) is called larking, a name taken from one of her favorite poems, "Not Waving but Drowning" by Stevie Smith (http://bit.ly/NSTPKY). The literary theme continues on to her pieces: sets of blank cards and matching envelopes made from original patterned paper designs paired with sections of text from a variety of books such as Pride and Prejudice and To Kill a Mockingbird, and clothespins coated with lines from the first page of a vintage copy of Nancy Drew books. She also makes book jewelry, including pendants with lines and images from Sherlock Holmes and Little Women, and a Pride and Prejudice bangle bracelet. This last item, a custom order, is made from wood and decoupaged book pages and tells the story of Elizabeth's spat with Mr. Darcy during their dance at the ball at Netherfield. Courtney carefully selected and manipulated the text from a vintage copy of the novel so that most of the tale is still clearly legible (http://etsy.me/LBCdyr).
Courtney also actively blogs here: http://bit.ly/Mi0hbM, with a combination of personal anecdotes from a new mom's perspective and DIY arts-and-crafts tutorials.
If the poster-sized prints from our last scoop featuring NovelPosters only whet your appetite for literary home decor, you need not look further than Mr Perswall's "Communications" wallpaper line (http://www.mrperswall.co.uk/node/2640).
After all, "Tales hold power. They please, enchant, concern, teach, rouse memories, inspire, motivate, challenge. They help us to understand. They leave impressions upon our senses." So, why not project those impressions onto your surroundings, a constant reminder of the joy and wisodm gleaned from the pages of each book in our own personal libraries?
For reading aficionados, the only thing better than the bright and pleasantly full shelves of the "Library- Colourful knowledge" design (shown above) would be four walls of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. Devotees of classic literature may be drawn to "Writers - Thinking in ink" (http://bit.ly/LemZmy), which features the names of brilliant wordsmiths from Aristotle to Zola. "Hooked on stories" (http://bit.ly/LCWLoK) unfolds the pages of tales across the room.
All Mr Perswall wallpapers cost 27 euro per square meter and are fully customizable. You can also check out alternative literary wallpaper prints from Deborah Bowness (http://bit.ly/MED1ns) and Anthropologie (http://anthrpl.ge/NQ3MJ1).
In this brainpickings.org post, content curator Maria Popova highlights five outstanding visual design projects that have sprung from themes of classic literature. From the 552-day quest of retired high school English teacher Matt Kish to draw one illustration each day, using pages from recycled books and all possible drawing mediums, until he covered every single page of Herman Melville's "Moby Dick", to the comic collection "Hark! A Vagrant" by New Yorker cartoonist Kate Beaton that features witty and intelligent caricatures based on historical and literary characters and happenings (such as the one featured above), these meticulous projects are astounding in both content and commitment!
"At a time when classic book-binding is challenged by the advent of Kindles and computers, contemporary artists are finding ways to turn the age-old book into new works of design" (http://www.ucsdguardian.org/focus/item/25801-infocus-book-art). These new ways are currently on display at the San Diego Book Arts Fourth National Juried Exhibition, an event co-sponsored by University of California, San Diego's Mandeville Special Collections Library and held in UCSD's Geisel Library. From a field of over 200 books submitted electronically from artists nationwide, 60 were selected for their "creative typography and binding skills" to be part of this exhibition.
Book artists use a variety of unique forms, materials, colors, shapes, and textures - as well as compelling combinations of words and images - to physically embody the concepts of their narratives. These interpretations can take anywhere from a few months to several years, and the transformations entered into this years' exhibition include "making the iTouch into the future book, rolling up papers of the book into threads for knitting and forming beeswaxes into fortune cookies with narrative teabag tags." The exhibition opened on June 2 and will run through July 18, 2012.
In August 2009, novelist and writing instructor Caitlin O'Sullivan (http://caitlinosullivan.com/) moved away from home and picked up the habit of sending postcards to her family and friends, both near and far. She soon found that the little notes were a refreshing and welcome surprise on both the sending and receiving ends, and thus The Postcard Press was born.
Each month, subscribers ($20 gets you a year's worth of postcard prose and poetry, and individual issues are available for $2.50 each - http://the-postcard-press.com/get-the-postcard-press/) receive a 4-by-6-inch postcard featuring one poem or (very!) short story set to an artistically designed backdrop. The current summer special gets you 15 back issues, such as the featured "A Sign in Mexico" by Tony Press (January 2012), for just $1 each.
Submissions to the literary monthly - up to 10 lines of poetry or 100 words of prose - are accepted via email at email@example.com. The current themes for submissions are: "When dinosaurs walked the Earth" (submit by July 31, 2012) and "Late" (submit by September 30, 2012); up to three submissions per theme are accepted.
As O'Sullivan sums it up, "The Postcard Press is about surprise. It’s about laughter. It’s about literature that you read when you get the milk. It’s about being tangible in a digital world" (http://the-postcard-press.com/about/).
Artist Brian Dettmer reads books in a way that is likely different from your own -- a way that involves the use of an X-acto knife. A book sculptor, Dettmer's process begins with an ordinary book. He seals its edges and cuts into its surface with a variety of precise surgical tools, isolating particular words or images. He dissects the book, layer by layer, until its original form has been entirely transformed into something new: a three-dimensional piece of art that exposes its innermost elements for public display and admiration. What remains forms the art here, as Dettmer's process allows only for removal, and not for the addition or alteration of any content. As he explains on his website, "Images and ideas are revealed to expose alternate histories and memories. My work is a collaboration with the existing material and its past creators and the completed pieces expose new relationships of the book’s internal elements exactly where they have been since their original conception." Among various other exhibitions worldwide, Dettmer's altered books can currently be seen through 6/24/12 in New York at the Christopher Henry Gallery, as part of the "A Cut Above" exhibition.
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Christina Yu & Michelle Dimino's insight:
Today, masses around the world are reminded to contemplate their love lives. As St. Valentine spreads hallmarked hearts across the country, regardless of whether you are blissful or in pain, we at LitCouture would like to remind you of one great love that has never left your side and you have hopefully never forgotten, literature.
Before you buy that new romance novel and download it to your IPad, think about that love-worn book on your shelf about to fall apart because you have read it so often. Take the time to remember the good times you had and will surely have again. Take comfort in what you love and make a few more creases in its pages.
We at LitCouture leave you with a few literary love stories. But since there are two sides to every story, we have included a list of the worst lovers in literature for your viewing pleasure.
"When we meet up to talk poetry, he has to go back out to the car a second time to bring in his new "book." The thing is wrapped in a throw rug. It takes both of us to set it up, and it takes up a good portion of the table, standing up easel-like." Hm, doesn't sound like any poem I know. But yet that's how James Heflin of The Valley Advocate describes the most recent work of his friend, poet, artist, and editor Chris Janke in his "Art in Paradise" column.
It's called of the of of the of. Yes, you read that right (and you'll probably need to read it again). Rethinking and reconstructing the traditional form of a poem both literally and figuratively, Janke refers to it as an "art book". It is in fact a book of nine books, formatted into a linear board of illusory, transparent line drawings matched with seemingly unconnected text. At the bottom of the six-by-six-inch, marginless page, you'll find the parts that most resemble conventional poetry, without line breaks, a blur of unpunctuated, colliding words from the jargon of philosophers and neuroscientists. And that's just where you start.
Then you move on to the "interpretive" layers that respond to the words, with explanatory names tacked on: "big bang layer", "flight map layer", "map of spain layer", that are accompanied by visual elements that, though fragmented, form a larger whole in the full display of the nine books. In various, inexplicable ways these "Visual elements, too, come into play, subway maps and hybrid creations like a tracing of every occurrence of the word "of," with each "of" representing a high point in a topographical map," details Heflin. As the reader opens and interacts with the books, new interpretations reinvent the meaning of the text and the relationships between the transparent layering.
After an elusory attempt at determining how to publish of the of of the of, Janke set to work constructing 20 copies of his "book", two of which are currenly on display. His newer work somehow combines poetry based on place, and "a literal framing of portions of the environment via hanging plexiglass" and is set to be completed in 2013.
"What’s the best way to describe her work? You know abstract expressionism, right? Well, think of Kruger’s art as “extract expressionism.” She takes images from the mass media and pastes words over them, big, bold extracts of text—aphorisms, questions, slogans. Short machine-gun bursts of words that when isolated, and framed by Kruger’s gaze, linger in your mind, forcing you to think twice, thrice about clichés and catchphrases, introducing ironies into cultural idioms and the conventional wisdom they embed in our brains.
"A woman’s face in a mirror shattered by a bullet hole, a mirror on which the phrase “You are not yourself” is superimposed to destabilize us, at least momentarily. (Not myself! Who am I?) Her aphorisms range from the overtly political (Your body is a battleground) to the culturally acidic (Charisma is the perfume of your gods) to the challengingly metaphysical (Who do you think you are?)."
Yvette Hawkins enjoys working with repetitive elements, which is fortunate considering that she may have to repeat her folding, cutting, printing, and sewing processes with upwards of 1,000 books per piece of artwork.
UK-based Hawkins, like the other book artists LitCouture has featured on this topic, uses outdated or "forgotten" books for her work, including donations from individuals and secondhand bookshops that otherwise would have been discarded. She considers her work a form of breathing life back into these volumes - and bringing them back into the public eye. Much of her work is made for installation, in both traditional galleries and non-gallery spaces, like abandoned shops. Her work has a noticeably monochromatic color scheme and a clear focus on structure and form. The piece featured here is her 2010 installation "No Land in Particular", which shows Hawkins' skill at the manipulation of repetitive parts. (The type of cylindrical book sculptures used are also available at her Etsy store: http://etsy.me/M4EClZ.)
So, why paper? In an interview with Evangeline McMullen's Booklicious Blog (http://bit.ly/Mrduyq), Hawkins explains: "The thing I love about paper is the idea that something so fragile and one dimensional can become structured and sturdy just by folding it. I actually started folding books because I wanted to manipulate the way printed words can be seen." The act of seeing plays a large role in her work, as Hawkins experiments with a variety of engaging textures, like those in her piece "A Wishful Topography" (http://bit.ly/NSDAgT), an world map altered by intricate folds.
Hawkins is the lead artist of Book Apothecary, a traveling artist book museum showcasing handmade & handbound books made by established, emerging and young artists from the North East of England (http://on.fb.me/M6MPIr). She also maintains an active blog that often takes readers through her fascinating artistic process here: http://bit.ly/NPAx7R.
Literature buffs beware: NovelPoster products could be dangerous to your productivity. They openly own up to it on their website: "Words as art or a commentary on the breakdown of literature, NovelPosters are guaranteed to make you stand in front of your wall for hours, mouth agape" at their dynamic design and compelling concept. (I'll probably still purchase from them, anyway.)
NovelPosters are typesetting masterpieces . . . literary masterpieces, printed in their entireties, in classic black ink on porcelain white silk cover paper. That's right, the ENTIRE text of each work is printed on these couture posters, with exquisitely arranged, representative images formed in the negative space of the words, adding a vibrant flair to the display of words.
This is no easy feat considering the epic proportions of the books currently available: Alice in Wonderland; 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea; The Odyssey; Pride and Prejudice; The Wizard of Oz; and Huckleberry Finn. Popular pick The Great Gatsby is featured above, with the silhouette of Daisy Buchanan illuminated from within the full text of the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic.
"Initially, I was concerned about the limitations of the quilling technique and the material from which the work is constructed - paper & card - as it very much dictates what can and cannot be said within the boundaries of the chosen medium. However, this material limitation turned out to be a strength for me: there is the potential to contain thoughts and ideas in unique ways so that the medium can become a significant part of the message," remarks Russian-born and UK-based artist Yulia Brodskaya on the technique she has been perfecting over the past three years. Quilling is a process in which strips of paper are rolled, shaped, and glued onto a backdrop to form an intricate three-dimensional image. The work is extensive and requires meticulous attention not only to the arrangement of the paper itself, but to the effects light, elevation, and position will have on the viewer. Brodskaya uses these effects to her advantage, playing with the intensity and direction of light to enhance the versatility of the tone of her work's message.
With a background in innovative paper designs and typography and a client list that includes such major names as Neiman Marcus, Hermes, Starbucks, and Anthropologie, Brodskaya has also worked extensively in commercial papergraphics, creating words, logos, and advertisements for international companies. Her layered paper work was recently featured as the cover art for New York Times bestselling author Jonah Lehrer's book "I Imagine: How Creativity Works," which focuses on the intersections between science, society, and the creative spirit. Her paperwork portfolio is viewable on her website: http://www.artyulia.com/index.php/Illustration.
Today in Taipei, an art exhibition featuring over 160 of the world's rarest pop-up books opened in the National Museum of History. Its goal: to show viewers the artistic and instructional value of these books, each of which is hand-assembled and, as such, one-of-a-kind. As curator Michael Yang explains, "Pop-ups are not just ordinary books or children's books, but interactive visual art." The highlights of the exhibit include a book that opens to a 1.4-meter-long image of the Titanic, a 8.2-meter-long book that details the history of the Czech Republic (the longest pop-up in the world!) and a Taiwanese Hand Puppet theater.
Pop-up books date back 700 years, with their original purpose being educational - to visually represent mechanical and scientific concepts. In this vein, the National Museum of History has partnered with the United Daily News Group to donate children's books and pop-ups to rural Taiwanese children as part of the exhibition. Additionally, 1,000 elementary school children will be given the opportunity to attend for free, with workshops available to instruct teachers on ways to use pop-up books as tools for classroom instruction.
"Often I think of photography as being a documentation of a process and that the resulting image is a visual proof of that experience. After arranging different objects for many hours in a room I use the camera almost like a xerox machine to document that process. Of course I do all this for the resulting image that I have in mind; only there do all the elements of this experience come together and make sense. The process of getting there and seeing if my plan works out is often more interesting to me than the resulting final image, which freezes the entire adventure into a single frame. What is so wonderful about photography is that this single final frame can tell the story of that entire process again.
Photography does two things for me: it makes it possible to share and communicate a lot of my different interests, and it also drives me to have new experiences because it gives them a place and a purpose. Diane Arbus once said that photography was her excuse to get involved with the people she was interested in meeting and taking their photograph..."
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