Rearview Fridays: Double Spine Art Book

Another Friday, another long-ago project to share. About 11 years ago my friend Lindsay Zier-Vogel taught me how to make hardcover books. I’ve made a lot since. It’s surprisingly easy (to make small, carfty, arty books that is, I am definitely not a professional book binder!) and I’ve made diaries, recipe books, poetry books with kids, art books. Lindsay continues to makes gorgeous art/poetry books, you should check them out here.

One of my most ambitious was a book I made in 2005, it’s two books in one with a double spine. A zig-zag book! I was researching Achromatopsia, a condition of the eyes that my mom has where her eyes see in a spectrum of grey, black and white, no colour. I was curious about how her eyes work because it’s hard for me to imagine not seeing colour, and I was working towards a conceptual dance work about seeing in black and white literally and figuratively.

I had read Dr. Oliver Sacks’ book The Island of the Colourblind. I has also written some poems about the content I’d gathered. I’m not particularly a poet, not publically, but writing poems can be a great tool when distilling technical info and autobiographical narrative towards a work of art, in this case the choreography, costumes and soundscore I was working on. I had a bunch of favourite quotes and my modest poems and thought they should have a home, so I made them a book, quotes on one side, poems on the other.

Here are a couple of favourite quotes from Sacks’ book:

What, I wondered, would the world be like for those born totally colour-blind? Would they, perhaps, lacking any sense of something missing, have a world no less dense and vibrant than our own? Might they even have developed heightened perceptions of visual tone and texture and movement and depth, and live in a world of heightened reality – one that we can only glimpse echoes of in the work of the great black-and-white photographers?

He is intrigued by the range of words and images other people use about colour and was arrested by my use of the word ‘azure’. (‘Is it similar to cerulean?’) He wondered whether ‘indigo’ was, for me, a separate, seventh colour of the spectrum, neither blue nor violet but itself, in between. 

And a couple little ditties about my lovely mom:

Her eyes lack cones

(they say)

so she sees in texture

instead of colour,

a world where red is equal to black

and dusk reveals the neighbourhood.

Crayons were responsible for her early reading skills and the betrayal of her eyes. She learned to recognize their names through necessity: red, brown, blue, tangerine, aubergine – whatever that might be.

She generally steered clear of the exotic ones, to avoid being the lone pre-schooler who drew purple palaces sporting taupe moats and devastatingly beautiful green princesses.

She had been informed of the concrete facts by Miss Jamison 3 months into the school year: only dragons are green, dear and a moat is filled with blue water  just like the river, see?      

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