Design: Jonas Voegeli, Kerstin Landis,
Scott Vander Zee — Hubertus Design, Zürich
Printer: Eberl Print GmbH, Immenstadt
Publisher: Edition Patrick Frey, Zürich
With the gravitational force of a freshly copied doctoral thesis, this chunky block sticks to the desk, as thick as a pack of A4 paper—at least that is your spontaneous impression. If you follow up this red herring (it is actually art) there is still the chance that you will come to the right conclusion.
On hundreds of double pages, there are text quotations on the left-hand side and four pictures on the right-hand side. Each quote has been given a shelf mark. The artist is an obsessive collector of pictures and text, and his encyclopaedic compilation seems to be catalogued entirely at random. Towards the end of the collection, the objective, simple intervals in the text/image arrangement are disturbed only slightly, but decisively. The text and image pages are swapped around because the extensive index already begins while the image material continues to spread out—a subtle expansion of the reference structure. In the old days we went through the thick Brockhaus lexicon, going from word to word and illustration to illustration just out of boredom, and then we intertwined all the associations offered higgledy-piggledy through the volume in order to have traced the Gordian knot of world knowledge.
What seems like ridiculous time-wasting from the perspective of our hyperlinked digital universe turns this book into a comprehensible catapult for realisations: “There are two points that are far apart in the moment that an idea appears—not knowing how they should communicate with one another—and then, after sufficient transformations, all of a sudden they are next to each other …”
Ink Rubbing by Leng Bingchuan
Design: Zhou Chen
Printer: Shanghai Artron Art Co., Ltd.
Publisher: Dolphin Books
The white jacket bears an image whose reduction could hardly be greater: a long cut in the cardboard shows a flash of black. This extensive volume presents the works of the Chinese artist Leng Bingchuan. It contains artworks with maximum black/white contrasts: lines and areas that have been incised, scraped and scratched into deep black ink. The book design has taken this principle as its leitmotif. The double flap jacket exemplifies the dual-layer concept of the medium: on the outside white, on the inside black cardboard. The innerbook can be taken out of the jacket, with an open spine and visible binding; black on all six sides. The artist’s name has been engraved in Antiqua capitals into the bottom edge of the book, and so the lower edges of the pages demonstrate the graphic technique, as it were: enlarged cross-sectionsof the image carrier by way of example. The didactic enthusiasm becomes clear at this point in another detail; even the engraved name is crossed by a finely curved strip. The first pages—strong, black paper —are also incised with curved lines in different directions. A series of photographs on the pages at the back show how the master’s hand guides the cutter from the deep, dark background into the deep, dark ink. Last but not least, the artwork reproductions have been printed in an extremely luscious and even tone. The opulence, the vivid richness of a black area as seen in this printing is a rare experience.
Toshio Nakamura, Takeo Takahashi,
Tsuneo Sougawa, Hidenori Tomozoe
Encyclopedia of Modern Sport
Design: Shin Tanaka, Sozo Naito
Printer: Sokosha Printing Co., Ltd.
Publisher: TAISHUKAN Publishing Co., Ltd.
Encyclopedias are attractive because the condensed knowledge inside can be grasped with both hands. They also put fear into people, though— the fear of paper overladen with text, the fear of heavy books, the fear of a thousand pages.
This has been achieved by the book design: giving dynamic buoyancy not only to this majestic magnitude for functional reasons, but also to the topic of sport itself.
Bernardo P. Carvalho
Design: Pato Lógico
Printer: Printer Portuguesa
Publisher: Pato Lógico
The pictures in this children’s book by Bernardo P. Cavalho are neither paintings nor drawings. Or both, with little trouble taken over the brushwork. Often the distinctive strokes broaden to form large, connected areas which then regulate the entire composition of the images. The brushstrokes frequently become ragged around the edges and create virtual half-tones with picturesque qualities. The conspicuous element of the book as a whole is its colourfulness, its apparent restriction to two colours: blue and red. There is a third colour, black, due to carefully planned superimposition of blue and red shapes. The artist does not think of black as a colour into which he can dip his instrument, however— although he allows the paper white to become an independent colour as if by magic, in a kind of negative retouching. It is therefore all cleverer than it appears at first glance.
The story: Fisherman, dog and lifebuoy in a mini boat on a calm sea. Suddenly stops short. Roughest swell. Foaming wave crests. Threatening bulbous bow of huge cargo vessel. Man overboard. Tugging mermaids. Monster with tentacles and many mouths. Elegant yacht with bikini-clad ladies. The whole truth at the dockland pub bar—or a sailor’s yarn?! Yes, and the book? Technically it is a classical paperback. But the remarkable visual work is wholly oriented on the paper-based sheet medium, and so no difference can be made between looking at images and looking at books.
Benjamin Courtault, Paris (FR)
Design: Benjamin Courtault
Publisher: kunstanstifter verlag, Mannheim
Printer: NINO Druck GmbH, Neustadt a. d. Weinstraße
One day an accident happens that sends the protagonist in this story of an internet relationship away from his everyday routine and into real surroundings. Genuine special colours—always three in alternating combinations—produce rasterfree areas that create contrasting blends lying next to and on top of each other. There is no partiality towards a particular colour. This creates the peculiar camouflage effect.
The concept enables the pictures to achieve—independent of the number of published copies—the quality of original printed graphics. The compositions are construed as dioramas. Mostly structured in parallel perspectives, they gain spatial depth from an elevated viewpoint. With the inner tension of Japanese colour woodcuts, shapes spanning large areas and detailed structures are related to one another. The huge dynamics only unfold when you allow yourself to see them as still pictures. Then a shimmer appears, as if the pages themselves were energised. That seems to be the secret behind these traditionally crafted book illustrations.