now then what do you see here…..

I JUST finished these books. I’m rather proud with how they turned out, and it’s neat to think of them both as finished products/pieces of art but also still very much as experiments. I worked with some new material for my books (canvas and vellum) and i had to troubleshoot some math issues (added thickness due to canvas and binder board instead of book cloth and chipboard), so i feel there’s a sense of freshness to them that my other books haven’t had. I also feel like i pretty successfully troubleshooted my issues, perhaps in no the most graceful manner, but successfully nonetheless. They have kind of a raw (for lack of a better word) feel to them, which i think works with the piece; having the cases come out perfect i think would have been kind of against theme (or at least against the actually experience i’ve had with mental health issues). Had i gone with a patient file design, i think precision/perfection would have been a must (it would have been from the point of view of the doctor, which always comes to me as a rather detached/exact/static feeling). I feel like these books are from the point of view of the narrator of the poem (which may or may not be me), so the rough-around-the-edges looks feels authentic to me. It’s the voice of the man in the straight jacket, not the voice of the doctor observing him.

Anyway, onto the questions:

My original concept was much more cloud centered. Clouds would have been the main focus/theme of the work. But, once i centered “rorschach” as the poem that would serve exclusively as the text for this project, i realized that what was really going on thematically had very little to do with clouds. It was really about perceptions and expectations, and seeing things simply as they are (and appreciating them for what they are). I think the accordion fold really lent itself to the poem. I appreciate the feeling that the various levels of meaning in the poem are literally and visually represented by the different sections of the fold, which feel like levels since its vertically aligned. I also really appreciate the senes of inner expansion (or “it’s smaller on the outside [than it is on the inside]”). That’s a theme i’m been working with a lot recently, that the internal space is greater than what it “should be” based on external appearance (which harkens back to the perceptions/expectations idea). I also just enjoy things that unfold. I like the participation aspect of it.
The straight jacket case came later. I knew i needed more to the project than what i had, but it took some brainstorming with Meredith to really hone in on what more it needed. I wanted there to me more visual elements of the psychiatric/mental health undercurrents of the poem, so i decided on constructing a case for the books in the spirit of a straight jacket. I originally wanted to make the cases look as closely to a straight jacket as i could, but upon conceptualization, i realized i 1) didn’t have enough time to do that and 2) i didn’t have the right skill set to pull it off. So, i went with a more suggestive route: given the context of the poem and the canvas (which was a happy accident i stumbled upon), i think the cover gives just enough of an impression of a straight jacket that the reader can fill in the rest. Plus, i feel the brown bellyband adds another subtle hint to the nature of the cover (the straps of most straight jackets). But, i also like that the reader may not consciously get what the cover is until they read the poem. Intuitively, i think it will land much sooner than consciously, but then again, i think that’s generally how intuition works.
I really, really love that this book is a series of surprises. First, the bellyband covers up the straight jacket elements of the cover. Then, it japanese folding boxes open, revealing the copyright/colophon section and the artist bio….and a sliver of blue and white….which then UNFOLDS into a skyscape that you have to turn 90 degrees in order to read. I think the biggest thing this book has going for it is the fact that at each stage of interaction with it, it defies expectation.

On a construction level, two of the books don’t fit as snuggly together as i would like, but i feel like that’s a minor thing. They all work as they’re supposed to, but i probably shouldn’t have used each cover as a template for the next and just did them all individually. I was trying to save myself some time, and it resulted in something that feel a little short of my intention. But, now i’ll know for next time.
I’m also really surprised my printer printed so well on fairly thick watercolor paper. It’s looks amazing, which was probably the biggest happy accident of the entire process.
I feel like i’ve gained some insight on the versatility of the accordion fold. Of the forms we’ve used, i think it may be my favorite. It’s a deceptively simple form that probably got scoffed at a lot when it was younger and the other book forms asked it want it wanted to be when it grew up and it said something like, “A pro-cricket paleontologist-astrophysicist superspy.” I’m really curious now what else i can do with an accordion fold.

I mentioned the straight jacket visuals, so i’ll talk about the skyscape. I like the feeling of levity it gives the poem, which is one of the less-heavy things i’ve written (though, it may actually not be….). But, i love clouds, and i will use anything as an excuse to incorporate them into my work. Fortunately for this project, i didn’t have to go very far for said excuse. I enjoy that the image i used is just a section of a much, much larger scene; i feel like the image itself lends itself to suggesting more or greater space. Or, at the very least, that there is more going on that just what’s in frame.

The title of the piece is “rorschach”. As for why it’s titled that, 1) that’s the name of the poem i used and 2) just read the poem and it should be pretty apparent.

If i made the book again, i would probably make another mockup or two so i could be sure about the spacing issues i encountered. Other than that, i think i’d keep things pretty much the same.

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