continuing identity experiments

I think we’re approaching something potentially awesome here: 

Or in Garamond:

Blocked out text (still in Elephant typeface and Garamond) with hexagons incorporated. I think the opacity is doing some really interesting things visually, and also alludes to the elusive nature of the meaning of the story.

 

 

 

 

visual identity for the project

I usually find it quite hard to begin with a cohesive visual identity for a project and not feel tied to a brand or identity that might no longer suit the project. Previous thoughts on title pages or brand are in this post.

More iterations on an identity for the book, thinking about a symbol that might work and a font selection that could be cohesive across the entire book.

Experimenting with hexagons and suggestions of the infinite through repetition.

 

 

I think this is my current favourite: suggestive hexagons with Didot font.

Thinking about how it might look in color, and in a more Faber & Faber style:

(too James Bond?)

Thoughts? Which is the strongest? What is working and failing miserably?

labyrinths: suggestions from others

My tutor sent me these links:

“Borges essays, while short, can be baroque affairs. They are the mark of a “delirious archivist,” as Umberto Eco called him, of a man who lives amidst legions of chattering books. He constructs his essays like a vast puzzle, piling quip upon quote, leading you ever deeper into a thicket of metaphors. Occasionally, they are almost formless, as if their writer has been so carried away by the force of his reading that he has forgotten the point he set out to make. Yet, a careful reading will always reveal the fragile thread between each idea, the links that made Borges not only a consummate reader and thinker but a peerless writer.” NANDINI RAMACHANDRAN

A friend reminded me of the labyrinths in Alice in Wonderland

And also the maze in the fourth Harry Potter book, The Goblet of Fire:

I also watched Bowie’s 1986 ‘The Labyrinth’ on Friday – which probably deserves more than a passing reference, but I’m a bit busy, as its assessment submission day for task 2 of 3.

With less than subtle references to Escher in creating an incomprehensible reality.. While I was on vimeo I also found this, a typographic treatment of a quote from the Borges story, The Aleph.

visual experimentation/iterations

experimenting with the intersection of light, architecture and the universe (constellations, as we make sense of the stars). I think my constellation lines are too thick and could be much finer.I’m loving the interplay of the map of streets and the list of extracted words from the text here. And the cute little constellation, lurking there, draco.

Different colouring – mostly derived from the original polaroid, but shifted a bit. Which iteration do you prefer? 

 

The suggestive power of hexagons: yes or no?

Image credits – All base photographs by me, architectural drawing and map of tokyo taken from books.

 

 

representing the universe

Nick Risinger is responsible for the Photopic Sky Survey, a huge photograph of the entire night sky, as we see it. 

You can zoom in and out off the image, around the galaxy, showing planets and constellations and a crazy amount of detail. Where you would expect to see black… there are hundreds of stars. 

Interestingly, as Louie Giglio points out, the Milky Way that we can see from Earth, is only a fraction of our universe. How does one even imagine such hugeness? 

 

The image is Creative Commons so I might use it in my final project. I’m fascinated by the image, and gentle but perspective shifting manipulations of it.

representing unimaginable things: Chris Jordan

Chris Jordan, an American artist/photographer uses interesting scalable photographs to represent the huge numbers of disposable items in his ‘Running the Numbers’ series on consumption and the statistics behind it. The photograph above represents the 1.4 million  paper bags used in American supermarkets every hour.

Below is ‘insatiable’ – “Depicts 48,000 plastic spoons, equal to the number of gallons of oil consumed around the world every second.” Chris’ work aims to represent ‘global phenomena’ on a scale that will challenge us and illuminate the things we otherwise couldn’t see – the unimaginable (Jordan, C. 2009).

I’m considering the methods he used and the effects he creates to see how I might also communicate what seems incomprehensible.

 

hexagons: why?

I suppose, dear blog reader, that you might be wondering why hexagons are so prevalent in The Library of Babel. I am still curious myself. They are the building blocks for the whole library, the construction of the universe. Perhaps because they tesselate endlessly, perhaps for no other reason than a random choice. The ‘galleries’ of the Library, containing all of the books in the universe, are hexagonal in shape:

“The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite and perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries, with vast air shafts between, surrounded by very low railings. From any of the hexagons one can see, interminably, the upper and lower floors. The distribution of the galleries is invariable. Twenty shelves, five long shelves per side, cover all the sides except two; their height, which is the distance from floor to ceiling, scarcely exceeds that of a normal bookcase. One of the free sides leads to a narrow hallway which opens onto another gallery, identical to the first and to all the rest. To the left and right of the hallway there are two very small closets. In the first, one may sleep standing up; in the other, satisfy one’s fecal necessities. Also through here passes a spiral stairway, which sinks abysmally and soars upwards to remote distances.”

-Jorge Luis Borges

Imagining what shape this library must take is quite mind boggling, and seemingly impossible, or unimaginable (hence the title of my project: the infinite unimaginable). Some however – architects, engineers, mathematicians (Hayes 2009), those unable to leave enigmas unexplored – have devoted time to figuring out the structure, and even, indeed, the air circulation and location of load bearing pillars!

 

Within the Library, there is talk of a “the books in the Crimson Hexagon: books whose format is smaller than usual, all-powerful, illustrated and magical…” Borges’ ‘universe library’ is interesting in its absolute confusion. I was musing yesterday on the title’s inclusion of ‘Babel’ and yet the fact is that the word cannot be found anywhere within the story… In another short story, Borges’ protagonist asks:

In a riddle whose answer is time, what word is prohibited?’

-The Garden of Forking Paths, Borges. JL

In a story about _____________ what word is prohibited? The library contains all the books and languages and stories about the whole universe – if anything can be said or imagined, it is and must be contained in the library. And yet there is a stark lack of literary content – no quotes from books save to point out the impervious nature of the letters (or orthographic symbols) contained within. The letters and books appear to obstruct meaning, rather than communicate it. (Is the story about Babel? language? stories?…). As Lisa Block de Behar points out, perhaps the significant literary lack of the library can be justified in a similar way. Borges seems more concerned with the architecture and structure of the library than the books it contains.

by Karl Kempf

The origin of the library is unknown, as is its creator, as is the purpose of the ‘librarians’ existence (Piper, P. 2001). How can the author speak of hope? Is this the allusion to the human condition, scattered at Babel and unable to understand the universe we live in, language obscuring rather than revealing “humanities basic mysteries – the origin of the Library and of time” (Borges, 1959).

References

Block de Behar, L. 2001, The Place of the Library, Latin American Literary Review, Jul-Dec 2001, 29:58,  pp. 55-72.

Hayes, B. Books-A-Million (‘The Unimaginable Mathematics of Borges’ Library of Babel’), American Scientist, 97:1, Jan-Feb 2009, p.78-79, book review.

Piper, P. 2001, ‘For Jorge Luis Borges, Paradise Was Not a Garden but a Library’, American Libraries, August 2001, pp.56-58.