Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The journey begins -- Landscape prints

For whatever reason I see this journey beginning in China and working its way westward.  The interest in the Silk Road began as an Art History lecture program which begins in the ancient east and visits the places and innovations that mark the accomplishments in art and culture.  The route begins in Han China and the Great Wall and ends in Marco Polo's Italy.  The book I am making starts in the east but ends in Baghdad.
Why Baghdad?  This book is meant to 'replace' a book from the inventory of books which was lost in the car bombing of 2007, at the centuries old Al-Mutanabbi street.  http://www.library.fau.edu/depts/spc/JaffeCenter/collection/al-mutanabbi/index.php

How could I make a book that would represent such loss?

So I began, first with the landscapes.  Each  4' x6' image is printed on a lightweight archival paper, and I have chosen a different color paper for each scene.  Here is the Great Wall, winding its way through the rugged mountainous regions.  Made so that six horses could run abreast along its way, six became the number for which to base the elements of this book.

  So many interesting things about the cultures, arts and history, I had to narrow the scope.  So, in an attempt to make this more simple and keep me a little more focused I chose the original inspiration of this arduous journey; the Silk!

The cultivation of silk was a carefully guarded secret.  It's own story comes with a great deal of mystery, lore and misunderstandings.  The right moth, the right leaves, the right methods -- very complex and intreguing!

The next landscape is a depiction of the Dunhuang Caves.   .http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Dunhuang_Project  A great cashe of ancient manuscripts, printed books and textiles.
The next image is of the Taklamakan Desert.  A challenging place for any traveler as the name means something like 'you go in and you don't come out'!  Fair warning, but not impossible.  This desert is surrounded by mountains, a high desert with a severe climate.  I printed this on a sandy colored paper.

Next we will cross more mountainous regions and more high plateaus before we reach the rich valley of the Tigris River.

As I worked on the landscapes, our universal commonality, I thought of the loss of knowledge.  How would we travel without the information and experience of others who had tread this way themselves, or had long conversations that turned into stories and poems about their journey, about our journey as humankind.  What if we lost this information, what if we lost those subtle connections that synergy and understanding.
What about the silk, the knowledge, once so carefully guarded,what if it was lost as well.  Not knowing where to go and now our traveler is without a reason to venture forward.  This is the loss.  The connections, the knowledge, the personal insight and a way to share it all.  The people who spent their lives saturated with the beauty of books, that is the loss.  To show this loss, my book will not be fully descriptive or informative, but will have lettered insignia for each map, landscape and tiny secondary books.  These letters are meant to coordinate with a code book which will reveal the information.  Where could one find such a code book?

The journey continues.  Three more landscapes and six secondary books will complete the traveler's guide that this book could represent.

Would love to hear your comments.  Thank you for your interest and time.


  1. This is a excellent theme and concept. Love the prints so far. Also love the idea of code book(s) to reveal knowledge and mystery. Perhaps one would find code books in a cave-like container/vessel/book?? :)) Very nice work.

    Bette Wappner

    1. Thank you Bette, I love the idea of the code book being hidden, perhaps rescued or saved from disaster.

  2. Wow, what a great project. I love the prints, especially the Dunhuang Caves (which I had never heard of before, so thank you!). Will you incorporate some silk into the books somehow?

    1. Thank you so much! the Dunhuang Caves offer some real inspiration, the location is pretty amazing and the amount of art! such a wonderful discovery. I had thought of using some silk, perhaps stitching the roadway on the maps (love maps!) I have allowed it to have its way with me, I am delighted as to how this has evolved. Thanks again.