Belfast, Maine: 2019. Unique artist's book, on Vinzani handmade paper, signed by the artist, Jan Owen, and dated on the colophon. Page size: 12-1/4 x 9-3/8 inches; 40pp. Bound by the artist: Coptic sewn binding; boards with burl and birch veneers, laminated onto Masonite; tan linen thread, front panel with label lettered "Homeo" in gold on black paper label followed by "Stasis" in black on white paper label; housed in black cloth over boards clamshell box, black and white label design repeated on spine and front panel; with printed text in hand-sewn cream wrappers laid in, signed by the artist, Jan Owen, on the colophon. Lettered in sumi ink and acrylic, it is painted, has Tyvek weavings, painted black pages alternating with the cream of Vinzani, and all pages (not French fold) are double, hand-sewn together with small stitches or crosses along the edges; geometric diagrams (the golden mean and Leonardo's Vitruvian Man for example which is later revisited as a digital creation) alternate with dense lettering which sometimes reads vertically and sometimes horizontally. In all cases the text is shaped into pleasing as well as challenging page designs. The textured Tyvek weavings are serious design elements in the pages of lettered texts, whether it is black Tyvek, white, or gold. The artist includes a definition of homeostasis as a tendency of stable equilibrium between independent elements - letters as they convey meaning through words as well words grouped into pleasing shapes. Included is Lawrence Ferlinghetti's prescient poem, "I Am Waiting" (1958) which could just as easily apply to the USA of today as that of 1958. Ms. Owen's artist statement explains that this book began with several sheets of old, burl veneer, the burls showing how the tree responded to stress or a fungus. She explains she started thinking about how our minds respond to stress, how we maintain equilibrium. She adds that she is "waiting for a rebirth of wonder." Who will synthesize AI and HOMEOSTASIS? She closes her texts with Emily Dickinson's "The brain is wider than the sky…" and adds she is waiting to see the brain and AI at work "and waiting for the poetry to be written."
With Emily Dickinson written in binary code as well as lettered, and Ferlinghetti lettered in white on black paper as well as black on white paper with geometric shapes floating over and under and around the text, the reader / viewer is caught up in the wonder of their words. This is a beautiful book and a provocative one, an artist's attempt to come to some sense of peace with the conflicting wills of the world. Item #11401