Archive for October, 2007

My Little Body

In the poetic workshop with Redell Olsen at the Wellcome Collection, I mainly found three apparently very different objects in the exhibition “Medicine Man” that I felt could be related. I chose the 1) the Doctor’s signboard hung with human teeth (Chinese, acquired before 1936); 2) Lock of hair, said to be King George III’s (1760- 1820); 3) the tattoos on human skin (French, 1850-1900). They are implicitly related because all of them are the removable part of the human body.

Then, I wrote continuously for three minutes in response to each of them after looking at them carefully. I set to myself that I have to feel the exhibited items and write it continuously without thinking for three minutes and I have to group them into some kind of text format I think that would be suitable for each of them.

After that, I have to consider the words and phrases that I have collected as objects for my own gallery on the page. Actually, I have to make an arrangement of groups of words or phrases on a page. It is a bit like the typographic exercise or something like concrete poetry. In the end of the first little workshop, I have designed a page of visual texts.

Furthermore, the second little workshop started with choosing an object from the “Medicine Man” exhibition that suggests a potential book form to me. We were told to consider the book as a container of information: boxes, bottles, hinged objects, receptacles, jars, etc… At the same time, we had to produce a text that could be stored in this book form. That could be the text I wrote in the first workshop or found the existed materials/ texts from the exhibition, which might include titles, lists, names, vocabulary and descriptions. The further work is deciding how I will develop my text further in relation to the possible making of a book form that might be related or grow out of my interest in the original object.

In this second workshop, I chose the Acupuncture figure Papier-mâché (Japanese, acquired before 1963) to be the ideal book form as this is a human body that contains all the texts on the surface of the body. I want to make a book of a body. According to Taoist philosophy, the life force “chi” flows around the body. It is similar that the body texts flow around the body of book as well.

The above is the inspiration or starting point of making this “My Little Body”. I think that the human body is fragile and easily to be broken, so I would like to express the fragility of the human body in this book.

I can explain the concept of this book from “inside” to “outside”. Firstly, I have found the meaning and definition of different parts of the body first which as the content of the book. Then, I designed the layout with the consideration of the layering effects, visual expression of the text and the sequence of papers. The feeling of layering effect and accumulation of different rhythm of dancing typography in pages should be shown in this book.

In choosing the paper, I used the most fragile paper—the tissue paper to be the main part of the book body. That can both express the feeling of fragility and layering effect of the layout design.

After printing different parts of the body out on different sheet of papers, I tried to sew all these papers (body parts) together. I am like a doctor doing cosmetic surgery to sew/ combine different parts of the body together to form the human body. It is a real process to make the body of the book. These red threads could be treated as the blood vessels that circulate throughout the body. They can also be the hair of the book when you combine them together. I also made the pocket to contain this little fragile book, which is made of flock paper. This paper texture is a little bit similar to the human skin.

All the materials chosen and the layouts designed create the whole feeling of the inside and outside of the human body. It is also a little bit related to my main project of “2 sides”. I tried to test how to make a book of “oriental” or “Asian” style. The paper chosen, the binding ways, the Chinese titles, the feminine feeling… all of these show some kind of “Asian”.

Medicine Man

Loneliness in the West

Last Monday, Helen started the 3-day workshop with asking us to write two pieces of writings at the very first.

The first writing is about Helen asked us to write the book you want to make at that moment. This is something called “creative writing”. Helen said, “You can just let your mind goes wherever it wants and you can just write what you think. If your mind is thinking about the book, then you write about the book. If then your mind changes to think about your lunch last night, just also write them down.” What we need to do is just keep on writing. My first piece of writing is about my main MA project, which is about the cultural difference and mixture and make a book about this.

The second piece of writing is about a place. Helen just asked us to write about a place we remember in these several days. What I remember is the “bus stop”. On the Saturday before, I went to the Artist book Bookshop. After that, I was waiting for a bus at the bus stop there. Suddenly, when I’m waiting, I felt lonely. That is this small piece of writing is all about.

Then, we have to underline the words in these two pieces of writings. After that, we have to read the writings to your partner. Your partners did not need to jog notes and just speak out the words they remember from your passages. It is a reinterpretation of a story from a reader point of view. Book is like this. It is a container of something. The writer writes something and put it inside and closes it. Then, the reader open it and put another things inside, no matter what that is, and close it and then pass to others. It is just a cycle and the book will become richer and richer. Different people have different interpretation of story and books.

The whole workshop is about this. Helen asked us to use these 2 pieces of writings to make a book in this one and a half day. We have to present it in the coming Wednesday. She asked us to collect a variety of materials and papers in the following of the day. And we have tutorial on Tuesday.

After that, I was thinking that I could use the theme of loneliness to be my theme to make a book. This is a book about “lonely”. To me, if I have to use a color to symbolize “Loneliness”, I would use the color “black”. It is just like the dancer in the dark. You have no help. You are standing or sitting there without any help. No one can enter into your circle. You even can’t see your own finger. Black also owns that kind of feeling of heaviness. That is like the heavy stone in your heart.

Therefore, after the workshop, I just go to the college art shop and other art shops to buy different kinds of “black” papers (different luminosity of black and different texture of paper) and a black cloth directly. I also bought the tracing papers, which I want to test the images and effects on them. All the concept and imagination of making a book were in my mind. Then, I have to go to the bus stop to take the photos there. I sat on the opposite road in front of the bus stop. I sat there for about 20 minutes and took lots of photos of the bus stop which present the time and sequence of “waiting”.

Last Tuesday, I brought several testing of images and sketches to the tutorial with Helen. Helen is very helpful to give suggestions and her eyes are very sharp. And she can feel the mood immediately and then told me what is better and what is not. She suggested the things I could do to improve the works.

The whole concept of this book:

Explaining the transparent booklet in the front, it is expressing the time sequence when you are waiting the bus. It may just spend 10 or 20 minutes for waiting the bus, but the time is very slow when you are waiting alone. The time expands when it is in your mind. You can just sit there and think about yourself or talk with yourself. In contrast, the environment surrounding you moves very quickly. The cars, buses, motor cycles are moving very quickly. The time for the transportation is running very fast. I would like to make this contrast and process. The layering effect of the tracing paper can give a feeling and mood of changing, passing, and moving very slowly to very fast. I need that this mood. The photos are from clear and quite to blur and fast. I would like to combine all these images to express the feeling of time and loneliness. I also used a scanned book pages to wrap these small booklet because I think, “Waiting is lonely. Maybe reading and writing is lonely as well.” I like the blurred part in the middle of the pages as a transition to the images and also present that moody feeling.

Behind the small booklet, I used the silver paper as the cover because I think you can just think about yourself, talk to yourself and reflect yourself when you are waiting alone. This is just like holding this book and look at you inside the book.

Moreover, the whole book behind is in black. I’ve said before I consider “black” as the color of lonely. You are like the dancer in the dark. You can’t even see your fingers. You are standing or sitting there without any help. Black also owns that kind of feeling of heaviness. That is like the heavy stone in your heart. You can never throw it away.

But later, if you have that feeling of loneliness, you can hide it. The feeling will spread out from your mind to the other part of the body and even start affect others. Your feeling will influence others and they will also feel uncomfortable with this. Therefore, the black cloth is spreading out from the body of the book, from inside of the heart to outside of the body. It is what the black cloth’s function. Can you feel the black cloth?

{It’s amazing that I spent just 1.5 days to make this book. I really think that it’s a challenge for me. I only slept for 2 hours yesterday but I really enjoy making it.}


Structure Testing Dummy 01

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

This structure-testing dummy is called 2 sides.

I’m studying the cultural difference and combination of the east and the west. Binding of the book is one kind of difference in these two different book cultures. I would like to combine these two kinds of binding together.

The traditional books in these 2 cultures are very different. In the West, the book is very heavy with very heavy materials and paper. So, I combined 20 booklets to form this book and a hard cover is used. As this is a symbol of knowledge and wisdom, the book should be strong and heavy. And on the surface, the book is conservation and tradition but it’s different when you look inside. There are lots of small booklets inside this book. If you see the bigger pages outside as the mother, the small booklets will be sons. If you see the outlook as the traditional culture, the small booklets would be the sub-culture that is very funny, colorful, active, attractive and different. There are small boxes in the booklets; they symbolize “book as a container of knowledge”.

For the Asian parts, I choose to use very different materials and paper. I choose to use light and soft paper. The traditional Chinese books are very soft and light. It is easy to take in hand to read. I used the Asian binding and the oriental fold book format to make the part of the East. I choose to use a variety of write paper, as it is harmonious and peaceful. It is always the philosophy of the scholars in Asia.

If the Western part were strong and masculine, the Eastern part would be soft and feminine. They combined to form the whole world. The concertina/ oriental folded way of book format is used to be the transitional section linking the eastern part and western part together. The two sides can be far away, but they can also be close to each other. Putting this book as a circle form, a world that is divided into two parts. One is the East and one is the West.

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Hei Shing

書就是… A Book is…


A piece of paper reflects not only time but also space. Books are formed by binding papers together to become containers of words that serve as a reservoir as well as a spring of wisdom.

October 2007
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