Monday, 13 April 2020

Medieval Slinky

In 2017 I started to work on a book for an exhibition/competition ‘Redesigning  the Medieval Book’ run by the Bodleian Library. Too much bending over a too low table meant my back gave up and although most of the pages were painted and printed it wasn’t finished.  In these days of lockdown I thought this was an opportunity to get it done.
When I started I thought about different types of medieval books and their purpose. I was especially interested in almanacs, other folded, easily portable books and those which contained volvelles and diagrams. In the Lancashire Archives there is a Vade Mecum, a small book with fold out pages full of reference materials that would be carried by a physician. The archivist referred to it as a medieval physician’s iPad.

I decided to create the equivalent of a medieval tablet with sections that reference all the things that people do on their devices and phones. I wanted my book to be a container of fragmented knowledge echoing how we use the internet to flick quickly from one link to another.
 I also wanted it to make clear reference to the source of inspiration, the medieval book, in a way that isn’t a direct copy. And I wanted it to have a tactile and visual appeal which reflects our modern understanding of the original

The different ‘books’ within the structure represent some of the different uses that we have for our our Smartphone and tablets. The ‘books’ in this ‘device’ consist of literature, games, music, maps, medicine and science. There is also a section for writing notes and a locked section for banking and personal stuff.
 To reflect the way in which we surf the web and hop from app to app they have been assembled in such a way that they cannot be accessed in a logical sequential manner. There isn’t a right way up or a designated back and front. To read from one end of the structure to the other it has to be turned over and over to access the next ‘book’.

This is continued within the ‘books’ themselves. They reflect the way in which we collect and store data, in some cases almost randomly or, when researching, ‘just in case’. The information is not organised, is not from the same source and is different in scale and colour. Because the whole book does not have a right way up the pages are not on the same alignment.
The ‘information’ within the books is based on historical sources dating from c. 650 – c.1500. But the materials used are modern; acrylic paint and varnish, polyester thread, oil based printing ink and laser printed printing plates.

The book boards are made from recycled palette wood (thanks to Tony Balmer for planning, cutting and drilling).
It measures 7cm x 7cm x 27 cm and when handling it it feels less like a tablet and more like a slinky.

1 comment:

  1. o,how lovely ! Great idea to use this palette wood !


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