CALL ME ISHMAEL
The largest of the five books alludes to the sense of sight: the most dominant sense used when reading. Each page is digitally printed and is visually dominated by a web of warped red lines that have been randomly generated via Processing. Arranged in a curtain-like composition, the lines obscure the text on each page, representing the veil that divides immediate reality with that of the book.
The words are cyan in color and are revealed through the lenses of red decoder glasses to imply that the reader must actively engage with the writing to fully comprehend it. The text itself is a curated assembly of well known opening lines from novels arranged into a new narrative. Opening lines are a reader’s first step into the world of the book and the act of putting on the decoder glasses to read the words parts the curtain and represents a willingness to enter that plane. The toy glasses additionally illustrate a lighthearted, childlike way of interacting with a tangible object and reject the solemnity sometimes present in the creation and content of artists’ books.
While there are only eight printed pages in the book, they are sandwiched between blank sheets in the middle of the text block to emphasize that to read a printed book is to commit wholly—e.g. be in the middle of—its tangible and ethereal offerings. The placement of first lines of stories in the center of a book is an additional way of furthering this idea. The book is bound in hand dyed cyan silk velvet and features a large red cellophane window on the cover that, when closed, reveals the title of the book, Call Me Ishmael; itself the opening line of Moby Dick.
. . .
The interior text reads:
If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.
Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.
I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.
Time is not a line but a dimension, like the dimensions of space.
A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.
I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story.
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.
When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home. There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.
We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.
A screaming comes across the sky. The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.
High, high above the North Pole, on the first day of 1969, two professors of English Literature approached each other at a combined velocity of 1200 miles per hour. Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting.
It was the day my grandmother exploded.
All this happened, more or less.
. . .
Digital prints on Mohawk Superfine, hand dyed silk velvet, cellophane.
+ 20 x 30 inches, closed