My new work, Specimens, is one of three pieces on show at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts as part of the 2016 Jerome Foundation Book Arts Fellowship. The opening for the exhibition is on November 11th, starting at 6 PM.
The pages will be displayed in sandwiched plexiglass frames, to allow light to pass through and permit the audience to see them floating in space – very much the way the paper looks and feels when handled.
Here’s my artist statement from the exhibition:
Specimens is the first of its kind: a book created with a new bio-paper medium made entirely from bacterial cellulose. Its pages were once alive.
The quality of this new paper, which I developed over the past seven years, is its unparalleled strength and transparency. Each sheet is grown in a vat and harvested after several weeks. After processing, many layers – five or more – are laid on top of one another with the text block carefully placed within. Then the entire stack is pressed. The act of pressing these sheets is what gives them their strength.
Trapped forever within the thin lamina of Specimens’ pages is the poetry of e.e. cummings. The challenge of retaining the poet’s complex typographic wordplay required a new approach for placing text. Drawing upon my fascination with Voronoi tessellations – the natural pattern of cell structures in all living things – I created custom software to generate a Voronoi framework that would hold the text in place. The text block was then laser-cut from Korean hanji.
You may also be interested to watch my 15 minute presentation from earlier this year, talking about my plans for the project and some of the science behind it. Some of the plans changed- many things were tried and discarded, as working with this medium at scale presented some new challenges. Overall I am very pleased with the results and look forward to sharing more photos of the installed work in the next week or two!