Dark Matter Book Images

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    My MCBA mentorship is nearly over after a year-long series of workshops and mentoring on the book arts. Myself and the five other recipients have covered everything from what constitutes an artist book, various forms of bindings, multi-signature binding, silkscreen, lead typesetting, polymer plates for letterpress, letterpress printing, paper making, box construction and relief printing. It’s been a long, hard but utterly enjoyable ride and I’ll be sad to see it end. But it won’t of course, because the book arts is something that will stay with me. But I will miss the camaraderie of the other five recipients, Amanda, Caroline, Meryl, Rachel and Ben, although I’m sure I’ll be seeing many of them around MCBA in the future – I hope so.

    Our show opens on November 4th at the MCBA gallery in Minneapolis, and as well as the finished book, I’ll have the images framed and on the wall.

    DARK MATTER is published as part of the Minnesota Center for Book Arts/Jerome Foundation Mentorship Program Series III.

    Deep inside an idle iron mine, below the ancient hematite rock formations of northern Minnesota, a tiny elevator rattles to a halt on Level 27. Here among dozing bats and artificial lights, people wait. And wait. This is the unlikely site of the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search (CDMS II) lab, where scientists are looking for the tiny burst that will indicate evidence of dark matter, a product of the big bang believed to comprise 25% of the material in the universe. Observations of visible structures in space suggest that their own gravitational forces are not strong enough to account for their formation, suggesting some kind of missing mass is responsible. This missing mass is believed to be dark matter, so called because it does not emit or scatter light like ordinary matter.

    DARK MATTER is a conceptual investigation of the visual phenomenon of shadows inside the CDMS II lab and in the forest around the site. Since scientists don’t know what it is exactly, or if it even exists, these photographs imagine what this mysterious substance might look like if it were visible.

    • Twenty unbound but sequenced hand-pulled polymer photogravures.
    • Printed on Rives BFK with letterpress printed text pages set in Proxima Nova.
    • Title page, statement, colophon and plate index.
    • Single tray case in black Canapetta book cloth with hand made Cave paper.
    • Designed and produced entirely by the artist.
    • 14″ w x 15.5″ h.
    • Edition of 10 plus artist proofs.

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    Dark Matter Progress

    The book continues to make progress, albeit a little slower than I’d hoped, but the end is in sight with only seven weeks before we begin installing the show.

    After the first critique session my project kind of spun around 180°, so I lost some time and now I’m trying to catch up. All this means that for the best part of the summer I’ve been at the studio until really late every night editing, outputting digital negatives, making plates and printing the edition, but as Richard Wentworth, our landlord in London used to say, “crisis produces results”. Although I’d really like to think it hasn’t come to that yet.

    Each book in the edition of 10 will consist of an unbound suite of twenty sequenced hand-pulled photogravures, with letterpress text pages, all presented in a single-tray case. The images are 7″ x 7″ on 14″ x 15.5″ Rives BFK paper.

    I’m having the letterpress polymer plates made by Boxcar Press so next week I’ll be using one of the Vandercook presses at MCBA printing the title page, colophon, a preface to the project and a small quote to run some tests I have in mind. All change again…

    I’d originally thought of using a clamshell design for the case, but Regula Russelle, my fantastic mentor for this project, rightly felt that a single-tray case would be much more elegant. I’ve made a few test cases now, but I have several ideas still, one of which involves locally hand-made Cave paper. Also, local type designer Mark Simonson has a typeface that I think I might like to use, but more on that later…

    Drop Spine Boxes at MCBA

    I spent last Thursday and Friday at MCBA in a workshop with seven others making rounded drop-spine boxes with Jana Pullman. It was a good group of people and I had the privilege of having as a ‘paste partner’ Karen Hanmer, a book artist from Chicago who does some amazing work and who’s no stranger to MCBA.

    Fortunately, after two full days, I was really happy with the way mine turned out, but I think the next workshop I take will have to be on paring leather. The box measures approximately 8.5″ x 6.5″ x 1.5″.

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    Monoprints on the Vandercook

    This past Sunday we spent the day with Regula Russelle as part of our MCBA/Jerome programme. While the others worked with pressure prints, I experimented with monoprints on the Vandercook.

    I wanted a cosmos-like, Milky Way-style effect, so using four inks I initially tried to apply all inks to the Plexiglass and print with just one pass of the press. This only resulted in a heavily-inked dark square, too dark even for me. So I tried building it up in successive layers which worked much better. A light layer of black was applied first, followed by white, brown and red. This method gave me more control over where the inks were placed and the ability to build it up gradually.

    The images are only 3″ square, so very small, and were finally bound using drum leaf binding. As well as producing this small book, we also learnt 4-needle Japanese binding, which could be another possibility for my book, because this particular style lays perfectly flat.

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