Saturday, November 03, 2007

Meditation Journal

I have been infatuated with the mobius strip (a band of paper with only one side and one edge) for quite some time. I made my first mobius strip book about two years ago during my green paper phase (using up leftovers from the Bush Book series). It was a dream journal and although conceptually interesting, it was structurally unsatisfying.

The thing about the mobius that makes it so irresistible is that it has no inside, no outside and no boundaries between verso and recto and these qualities make it challenging to bind as book pages, which is what I keep trying to do.

A year or so later I returned to mobius strips, determined to find a better way to bind them together as pages attached to a spine. I fell in love with this version of the mobius for the way it evokes vertebrae. Life circumstances were not amenable however, to the creation of a book of chunky three dimensional pages that cannot be closed. There was nowhere to keep it, no where to show it. Until now.

In anticipation of including a mobius book in my Domestic Pilgrimage exhibition, I first made a three page version, to ensure that it would work as well as I visualised. For the past few months that model has been hanging over my bed where, upon opening my eyes in the morning, the thrill of seeing its creamy curves, and anticipating the pleasure of eventually getting to make the real thing motivated me to get up and on with all other fifty things higher up the To Do list than the mobius book.

Friday, mobius finally surfaced as the next thing To Do. Sometimes books that I have spent months or years thinking about before I make them are nothing but disappointment and frustration. The mobius book surprised me with the ease with which it came into being exactly as I had visualised. Based on my earlier struggles with the three page model I thought the full size version might take two or three days to make, but it was done in less than a day. I hung it in the studio for a few minutes to take blurry camera phone photos and to see how it works vertically: something like a dinosaur spine.

It is a little bit taller than me, and a little slimmer (an idealised version of myself as a book). I also made a box to keep it clean and safe until the exhibition, and the box (made from windscreen packaging) resembles nothing so much as a very low-budget coffin. I didn't try lying in it, but I'm sure I would fit comfortably. However the book is so light that I can easily carry it in the box by myself. (I found the Styrofoam peanuts in a rubbish bag outside a shop the night before and decided to rescue them from their intended landfill fate).

I don't often make blank books- usually my inspiration starts with the text and the structure follows. I toyed with writing poems for this book and may yet make a future edition with text. (In fact I'm certain this is not the last mobius book I will make.) However, living with the three page model in my bedroom has made me appreciate it's pristine qualities: the shifting shadows of white on white, the echoing curves of thick creamy paper, the miraculous mystery of its mathematical qualities.

I have used it many times as a meditation focus, riding my breath up and down the snowy slopes, breathing in and out as one continuous loop. Hence this unique blank book is called Meditation Journal. Its future owner is welcome to use it as a book to record their meditative insights, to hang it in front of their meditation cushion or to enjoy it as a kinetic sculpture suspended from the ceiling, rotating gently in the slightest breeze.


E said...

This looks fascinating - almost like the DNA spirally thing.
Can't wait to see it up close and personal next week.
And yes, I have my best origami fingers on all nimbled and ready to fold

Lee Kottner said...

This is an incredibly beautiful structure, despite its impracticality. It makes perfect sense as a meditation journal, however. I may have to try one of these some time, to add to the collection of interesting things I have hanging over my bed. I didn't realize you could make multiply twisted mobius strips.