The metamorphosis book, also referred to as the “harlequinade,” was a simple movable book format that first appeared in the mid 1600′s. Later in the 1770′s, inexpensive harlequinades were printed in England featuring the adventures of a harlequin character popularized in pantomime theater plays at that time. The books featured a full-page image overlayed with two half-page pictures that lined up with the image underneath. By turning up and down the half-page flaps, four versions of the illustration would appear and the storyline would be advanced. Werner Nekes has created a delightful little YouTube video of these books in action. Today we are inundated with moving images of all types, so it’s often hard for us to image how exciting this simple device must have been in a time when “movies” did not exist.
December 2, 2012
May 19, 2012
We thought this pop-up book by young designer Daisy Lew was worth noting for its unusual structure, combining a host of little pop-up blocks to create larger images of New York City icons: the Big Apple, a yellow taxi, the Chrysler Building and the Statue of Liberty. From one angle the pop-ups look like a city of multi-level skyscrapers, and from above you get the whole view. Check out the book on her web site at www.daisylew.com/popup.html
March 20, 2012
Traditionally, the book has been both a container of information and a physical object. With the advent of digital technology that has changed, and today some books exist only in electronic form. But physical books are still part of our world, and some artists are using them as raw material for their own expressive pieces in the fields of art and architecture. The weburbanist site has mounted a small show of twelve artists’ bookworks at various scales. We love the idea of buildings made of books, while the smaller-scale sculptural pieces are also both jarring and thought provoking. Visit the show for more images of the works by clicking here.
February 3, 2012
For all of you aspiring physicists out there, here’s an intriguing introduction to the workings of CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, located between Switzerland and France. Not many get to actually see the collider, so to help people understand how it works, scientist Emma Sanders and paper engineer Anton Radevsky collaborated to create this exact-scale model in pop-up book form. The book describes how the Atlas Experiment is trying to uncover the origins of our universe by smashing protons together at very high speeds. It took 15 years to build the actual collider, but you can build your own paper version into the book in just a few minutes, as shown in this short YouTube video. Thanks to Bryant Holsenbeck for sending us this link.
December 8, 2011
Can’t live without the Hogwarts’ wizardry in your Harry Potter books ? How about wearing it? Ravenna Osgood, a young, hip designer in New Mexico, has been winning prizes for her fashions in Santa Fe’s Recycled Arts Festival for years. This time around she’s concocted a wearable book, literally, crafting her dress from J.K. Rowling’s now-classic texts. She’s proven herself a fashion magician with found materials ranging from coffee bags to credit cards. For more pictures of Ravenna and the Recycled Arts event, go to http://recyclesantafe.org/2009winners.htm
October 28, 2011
Brooklyn artist Ariana Page Russel has turned her medical condition into an art form. She has dermatographic urticaria that causes her skin to become raised and inflamed when scratched, rubbed, or stroked. The inflammation is painless and lasts about 30 minutes. It’s just enough time to allow the artist to photograph herself after she’s finished her skin drawing. She exhibits the photographs, and also makes collage designs and wallpaper from the photos. Apparently she can control the pink or red hues in her designs by the pressure she exerts on her skin. For more on Ariana, visit her web site, http://www.arianapagerussell.com/
October 15, 2011
After serving his two terms as U.S. President, Thomas Jefferson retired to Monticello, his home outside of Charlottesville, Virginia, and began work on constructing his own “Bible,” a collage of clippings from other Bibles in English, Greek, Latin, and French. Jefferson was most interested in the moral teachings of Jesus, and assembled the clippings from the Four Gospels of the New Testament in chronological order, creating a sort of “scrapbook” of Jesus’s life and philosophy. He glued the cut pieces onto loose pages in four columns for easy comparison. The pages were later bound into a book that was titled The Life And Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, now known as the Jefferson Bible.
A few months ago we visited the conservation lab at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, where the Bible was being restored by conservator Janice Stagnitto Ellis. The book’s binding was cracked and damaged, and the pages fragile. It’s been a year of difficult work for Janice and her staff. Because the book is so stiff and delicate, it can only be partially opened, and many of the repairs were accomplished with tweezers.
It was a thrill to see Jefferson’s finished book, and we also enjoyed seeing one of the Bibles from which verses were extracted because it looked so much like an artist’s book with all the missing cutouts.
With the conservation mission accomplished, the Jefferson Bible will be on display at the NMAH’s Albert H. Small Documents Gallery, starting in November. For more information, visit the SI Newsdesk.
April 23, 2011
Angelika Oeckl’s artwork is small—REALLY SMALL. She specializes in creating miniatures, and recently took on the challenge of creating the world’s smallest pop-up book. Starting with a reproduction copy of Franz Bonn’s 1878 German pop-up Theater Bilderbuch, she disassembled it and scanned the parts and pages into her computer to resize them. “It turned out to be much more difficult than I thought,” she says. “I had to redo it several times. Parts didn’t line up or the scene didn’t fold flat.” She finally succeeded, and she thinks this is the smallest pop-up book around—smaller than Ann Vanture’s mini reproduction of Lothar Meggendorfer’s International Circus which measures 22 mm by 21 mm.
To see more images of Angelika’s mini book, go to her Picasa Album.
April 17, 2011
The line between books, electronics, theater and animation is becoming thinner these days with the rapid development of digital readers. We’ve seen several great apps that attempt to capture the feel of a pop-up book, although the experience is not the same as the actual paper versions. Here’s another approach in which film and pop-ups retain their distinctive qualities, yet the two are joined in a beautiful, surreal way. Created by Davy and Kristen McGuire during an artist’s residency at Kuenstlerdorf Schoeppingen in Germany, this large-scale pop-up book serves as the stage set for a story told through behind-the-page video projections. Inspired by Russian fairytales, the story is of a young boy enticed into the realm of an ice princess who wants him to warm her heart. Click here to watch the video.
To read more about this project, visit their web site at http://www.theicebook.com/Behind_the_Scenes.html
March 16, 2011
We were first drawn to Isaac Salazar’s work with this intriguing photo in which message and medium are so wonderfully intertwined, although the irony, of course, is that folding the book’s pages makes it unreadable as is. Salazar has no training as an artist, but found his creative calling through a craft project in which old Reader’s Digest magazines were folded into Christmas trees. He wondered if other forms were possible, and obviously they are. Salazar leads a double life: an accountant by day and origami/altered book artist in his free time. Here’s a link to his Flickr bookworks gallery.
Thanks to the Typestack blog for bringing these works to our attention. If you are a typophile, check out their site: www.typestack.com