Berkeley, CA: Flying Fish Press, 2005. First Edition, limited to 100 copies, each signed and numbered by the author / artist, Julie Chen. The book is printed letterpress using a combination of pressure plates, woodblocks, and photopolymer plates. It was assembled and bound at Flying Fish Press with assistance from Macy Chadwick. The book is a tablet that sits on its own easel, housed within the box holding the book. The tablet, covered in deep red silk, fastened with brass in each corner, has an opening 10-1/2 inches x 6-7/8 inches covered with plexi, through which is viewed the text. Along each vertical side of the box are wooden "arrows" each numbered in turquoise on an orange ground, reading 2-12, each representing a page. The box measures 14-7/8 inches x 8-1/4 inches. To view the pages, the reader must push up both the "arrows" marked "2" or "3" etc. The colophon is printed on the inside of the tray case holding the book, with the easel on the back. The box folds out on each side, to reveal images printed in green and yellow in a very organic abstract design. The name of the press is on the left fold-down, printed in back on a strip of tobacco-colored Japanese paper. On the right fold-down is text relating to the book in the form of six strips printed on the same tobacco-colored Japanese paper in black. The text reads
Page 1: In times of transition / there is an irresistible urge to look back / touch the wound again and again
Page 2: Try to pinpoint the precise moment of error / Admit to yourself that you knew you were making a mistake before you even began / Relive the pain of knowing you were wrong
Page 3: Turn events into a story that you can tell yourself and others / change the words ever so slightly with each telling / play up the drama / give the dialogue more dignity than it had at the time / omit shameful scenes of humiliation
Page 4: Leave out certain painful exchanges that play over and over in your mind / tell yourself that you are preserving the truth / even as you reinvent the details one by one / allow the story to replace your actual memories
and so on.
Each page alternates from an orange ground to a celadon ground. Each page is illustrated with abstract images, very organic in nature, as well as a partial view of a long, continuous visual timeline. The covers - right and left - fold open and there is an onlay image, 6-7/8 inches x 1-7/8 inches in shades of green on board with title and author printed in black on tobacco colored paper the same width of the image. The left cover has a cutout that fits over the onlay image on the right cover, acting as a fastener for the book.
Once again, Julie Chen has pushed the boundaries on the definition of a book and created a provocative meditation on time and space and how life interacts therein. Item #9536