“Most people remember leafing through the pages of an Encyclopedia with nostalgia, associating the experience of discovery with the physical act of turning a book page. To me, an encyclopedia brings back memories of school libraries, discovering exotic animals and far-away places. The Encyclopedia was a source of information, and a catalyst for curiosity and discovery. In 2012 I found a complete leather-bound set of the Encyclopedia Brittanica in mint condition in the landfill outside Aspen, CO. Unable to store 30 volumes, I rescued one book: #15, from P to R. I photographed each page of the 1183 pages with a 35mm camera and printed the negatives in the darkroom. Each 35mm frame was bound into a miniature book yielding 35 continuous books. The text in each page is readable from beginning to end. The pages were contact-printed in the darkroom to be legible, the droplets of an inkjet printer being too big to resolve the text at such small size. The books were randomly distributed, the last known location documented in a photograph. To find the books and read the text requires effort. The finder must be aware of their environment and curious about what is inside to discover a small world of knowledge. The books reward curiosity and exploration – a surprise gift for the wondrous. The viewer receives a crafted, precious object that must be activated for the gift to be complete.
As a CSArt artist, I propose to create a handmade book about extinct and fictitious animals. Inspired by Jorge Luis Borges’ ‘Book of Imaginary Beings’, the book would contain 10-15 entries with descriptions and images of real and unreal animals, paralleling history with folklore through beings that only exist through storytelling. Each book will have one unique page. Recipients will have the opportunity to search for their unique page and share it with each other during the distribution events. My intention is to use the distribution event as a place to share and comment on the pictures.”