Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Michael5000 Bookarts Collection

We have a pretty good collection of book arts pieces here at Castle5000, and I am not ashamed to brag that we have the world's largest collection of the work of Mrs.5000. My own personal share of the collection is quite small, but has some good stuff in it.

My first introduction to the book arts was the Chinese New Year cards and small occasional pieces produced by time-to-time L&TM5K commenter Margaret. I still have these pieces, of course, but have unfortunately been too cheap so far to actually purchase anything from her.

As you might expect, I now have a number of pieces by Mrs.5000. I own, for instance, a handmade book from her small series called The Recombinant Alice. Each "page" of this book is a text from Alice and Wonderland set opposite the original engraving of the character that it describes.

However, each page is cut into thirds, and the whole is cleverly engineered so that, by flipping the little page-thirds, you can create weird new characters with weird new texts to describe them. It is like an elaborate game of "Exquisite Corpse," with the surreal setting of Alice and Wonderland serving as a natural jumping-off point into further absurdities.

The most elaborate Mrs.5000 piece in my personal collection is the box shown below. I don't know if it has a title; the question never occured to me until just now. It is typical of the Mrs.5000 ouvre, a mobile and intricately detailed three-dimensional space, chockablock with high-culture imagery, found objects, evocative snippets of text, mirrors, exposed mechanical objects, watercolor, technical images, and sudden surprising empty spaces that open up new views and perspectives. Made to be a Christmas gift for me, it is subtlely tailored to me and my interests, although you would have to know me awfully well to figure that out.

L&TM5K Blog Vice-Dork Fingerstothebone is a book artist and painter; we have one of her prints hanging in the living room, and I have framed several greeting-card prints of her paintings in order that I can enjoy her art with a minimum of financial benefit going to her. It's nothing personal, I'm just cheap.

I did, however, beg and wheedle until Mrs.5000 bought me one of Fingers' "Da(3)Pai(2)" playing card decks for a birthday present. These are a playable deck of cards that trace out the etymology of 52 words in written Chinese. They are way cool.

I note also that Fingers has created a "a mock fortune telling deck [of] 52 cards with 52 different vague answers to all the questions in life", but that it is not for sale. C'mon, Fingers. Everything's for sale....

Last on today's tour is my representative speciman of Pamela Paulrud's Book Stones, which I mentioned a few weeks ago. Paulrud presumably makes these by chopping up old, moribund, but still tightly-bound books and going after those suckers with a grinder or something. The resulting object looks fantastic displayed in a group along with actual river stones, as shown here, but is a thing of much coolness all by itself, as well. They are pretty, but also marvelously tactile.

I have not met Pamela Paulrud, and to my knowledge she does not read the L&TM5K, but I'm sure she is very nice just the same.


So, if you have a modest budget for acquiring distinctive, beautiful, and intellectually engaging works of art, you could certainly do worse than to patronize any of the above artists.

If you have a truly massive budget, please contact Mrs.5000 at your earliest convenience. Tell her michael5000 sent you!


gl. said...

you are sooooooo lucky! those are some awesome pieces. and i feel lucky that i've seen most of them. you are quite the patron of the arts!

margaret said...

aw gee Michael, thanks! blush blush

Anonymous said...

I wish I had an enormous budget! These are wonderful. I love that box and to tailor it to a specific person's interests is just . . . well that's love right there.

The playing cards are kick ass plain and simple and lovely. I have seen only one other book cut up the way Alice was here and it was fascinating.

I kind of wish that book stones held the entire contents of a book. It would make for a great fan fiction detail in a modification of Fahrenheit. They hid them as stones!

fingerstothebone said...

Why yes, M5K, everything has a price...but I'm sure you'll be too cheap!

(Just got back from San Juan Islands, what, 24 minutes ago, and I'm already checking your blog.)

Rebel said...

those books really are beautiful, amazing creations