Tutorial with Susan

Date: Tuesday 25 September 2007
Time: 3:00- 3:30pm
Venue: Gymnasium Studio

In my draft of the project proposal, I’m talking about the values of books in the East and the West. I think that there are some difference in the appearance of the books from the East and the West. The traditional Chinese books are lighter and the paper we use is very thin, light and soft which is just like the fur. That is very comfortable for us. On the contrary, the books in the West are heavier. The covers, the papers used are very hard and heavy. Susan says that the western books symbolized the meaning of knowledge and so there should be some kinds of weight of books. Actually, I don’t really know that why the traditional Chinese books are so light and soft. I really have to study further about the “symbol” of the books in the East & the West (in relation to ‘weight’).

Another point is that I have suggested a idea of using male and female to represent the two sides. Susan thinks that would be too much. I don’t need to reinforce that kinds of opposite words just like “east”, “west”, “male”, “female”, “feminine”, “masculine”, “powerful”, “weak” and so on. That is not helpful for me. They are not always contradicting! They can be go to mix together harmoniously and peacefully. Don’t make subjective as opposed to ‘objective’ approach!

It is better to let it natural and open. I can study and research lots of things and then come to a conclusion.

Practically, she suggested me to start exploring both the structures and binding of the books. Can I mix up the structures of the book with different styles? We’re just thinking that it would be wonderful to mix these things together to form a book with mixed cultures. Susan suggests the books of Keith Smith to me. I have already knew him before. I’ve read his books “Structure of the Visual Book” and “The text in the Book Format” before. Maybe I have to read that again in details and read his other books to get inspiration.

Another question Susan writes down is that ‘Are you finding the relationship between “book cultures”?’ there should be a relation between them. They should be affected and interacted with each other in some kinds of ways.

Reading? The reading methods or the habit of the readers should be considered and studied. Always, the Chinese and Japanese like to read vertically, but the western people like to read from left to right horizontally. The study can be included the reading in relation to book structure and reading materials.

After discussing about my draft, I’ve asked Susan a very serious and important question today. I studied “Visual Communication” in Hong Kong before. Before I study this course, I’m always thinking and wondering: “What is book arts? And what is book design?” “Is there any difference between these two terms?” “Do we have to distinguish them so clearly?”

Susan’s opinion is that there are really some differences between them. Book design is an activity that there are always someone such as the publisher or the author who will give you the project brief and you have to co-operate with them to complete a book. Designers always have to satisfy other’s wants or needs. There are usually lots of limitations and requirements for us. But book artists did the project brief ourselves and we complete the whole process and create our own book as an art piece. The book itself is already an art piece. We also have to consider the budget or publishing stuff that is our limitations. But, often, we can control the whole project ourselves and satisfy ourselves. All we need to do is to our emotional and artistic mind to work.

In my own opinion, I don’t think that we have to distinguish “book arts” and “book design” so clearly. I just want to keep them into an ambiguous situation. Always, the art movement affects the design movement and verse visa. I believe the saying that “Design is the extension of art to life”. This is very true for me and I want to use the practice in book arts to contribution to the society. Susan also agrees with that. She considers that separating these 2 things strongly is not helpful to strength the art world. You can see there are lots of combination of art and design in the exhibitions and museums. I think we really have to make use of the skills of art and design to create a better world.

At the end of this tutorial, I shared the exhibitions and museums I gone in the last weeks. And we talked about the books exhibition happily and I really enjoy the exhibitions Susan recommended before. Lastly, Susan suggests me to go to the Poetry Library to see the exhibition of Sam Winston who she said I would be interested. Susan, thanks!

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Contributor

Hei Shing
chanheishing@gmail.com

書就是… A Book is…


一片紙不但表現時間,也表現空間。而一片片的紙張組合起來的書就是一個高深的容器,盛滿文字,既能從中不斷汲取智慧,又能裝入無限的智慧。

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.

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