Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What's in a Name?


"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

I have been doing folded books for several months now. Over that time, I've looked around for other examples of folded books on the Internet and have not found that many. My search terms have included "folded, books, book sculpture, folded pages, and upcycled books". The other day I found a site that included the term "altered book". My alarm bells went off.


I *know* what "altered" means in this day and age. It means you buy a whole bunch of off-the-shelf crud (in the scrapbook aisle) to paint, paste or otherwise "embellish" a found object to make it your own. I have to say I HATE the scrapbook craft of today. I hate that "scrapbook" has been turned into a verb. (I hate that "journal" has gone down the same road, too, but that is for another day...) What IS a scrapbook? It's a memory-reminder. It is the content that matters. Nowadays, people have been brainwashed into thinking it is the format and accessories that matter. I have scrapbooks, but they are filled with pictures that mark memories and events. They are not overwhelmed by layouts and embellishments. Pardon me, Layouts and Embellishments. Everybody's stuff looks the same. There is a minimum of content and a lot of decoration. Wasteful. Expensive. Mindless.

That goes for the altered books I saw in my search yesterday. My quest to find like-minded artmakers ended in despair as I saw the same old materials (scrapbooking-type) used in increasingly bizarre combinations (in the name of originality) to make a whole lot of nothing. Most altered books are colored in the same out-of-the-tube magenta, turquoise, lime, and yellow. Pasted with the same looking "vintage" color copy photos (with absolutely NO connection with the artmaker) - many with dunce caps - and embellished with cut-out words, glitter and rickrack. The problem is, this could be really neat! There are really original things you can do with books - think Su Blackwell, Nicholas Jones, Brian Dettmer and others. Someone else who is not as well-known, but I think is also on the track I'd like to pursue (is that the crux of the matter - what I like vs. what everyone else is doing? Neither is wrong? Pbbbbt!) is Karen J. Hatzigeorgiou. She actually does a bit of the stuff I hate, too. Go figure.



Rant over. I think what I'm trying to say, be original. Why the heck are you using a book as your foundational material? I am the last person to have a philosophy about art, so I can't ask "what are you trying to say" because that just leads people to spout obtuse mumbo-jumbo.

I do altered books, too, but it's not the way portrayed in the books you find in the store, using the materials bought at Michaels that EVERYONE uses because "that's what an altered book looks like." *sigh* I'm not where I want to be yet. I've only just begun on my journey, but I think that I'm on the road less traveled. And hopefully, that will make all the difference.

3 comments:

  1. That is some beautiful work, right there. It makes me want to try to find the books I used to carve up in college. Though I'd probably cringe at the attempt now, it was fun to alter the few books I had done. (some complete with peepholes) Keep on with the original artwork.

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  2. Okay, this is going to sound absolutely ridiculous, but... I love paper things, and I love what you have done from your pictures.. I am just not sure what you have done. I am not very familiar with altered books myself, and i can see why you would be annoyed by some other's expressions of "art",but can you explain what you do exactly? I found you over at my place called Days Ease Wordlets and Creativities. Thanks for following me. I hope you will enjoy coming and visiting often. :-) and, i look forward to exploring your works as well. :-)

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  3. This is several steps up from something my grandmother used to do. She would take a Reader's Digest magazine and on each page make a large diagonal fold on top and a small one on the bottom. When the folding was completed she wouls staple or glue the fron to the back, spray paint it green and voila, there is a tree decoration!

    But then, she would also save styrofoam meat containers from the grocery store, spray paint them, glue an old Christmas card in the middle and then slap some lace around the edges.

    Did I mention my family is very resourceful? LOL

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