Exercise 4

Collating and binding

This brief was split into three main stages. Firstly, I was asked to reflect upon and evaluate the images I created in the previous exercise and make any changes I felt were needed. Next, the brief told me to select and collate, choosing which pages to use and working out how the images would work as a whole. Finally, the brief asked me to bind the pages together, in any way I saw fit.

Step 1: Reflect, evaluate and rework

Are there any visual surprises or happy accidents?

In the previous exercise, I printed out my images and looked at them as a collection. It was really interesting and quite surprising to see how the colours changed from beginning to end (if the images are in placed order of the poem). The colours begin bright and change to duller, darker tones. Overall, the colours begin in the blues, with splashes of warmer colours, like orange and pink. They then transition to dark reds, purples, and greens. It is very telling as to the tone of the poem and the vocabulary I selected. I was surprised by the way my choices for the individual images had created this effect.

My use of typography was not overly pre-meditated – it was very instinctive. I played around with typefaces that I felt suited the theme and then experimented with how I could include them in the image. The use of negative space was a happy accident during the process – I think the first image I discovered this effect was the ‘tinned mirth’ page, but I ended up deciding to use it on the ‘look’ page. These discoveries throughout the creative process have resulted in pleasing images.

Which pages are successful?

My favourite page is probably the ‘look’ page. It uses lots of my own creations – like the eye and the foil telescope – and also photographs I collected. The way the colours work together looks dreamy; it definitely hits as a space or night sky-themed page, with those purples added for a spiritual quality. I deliberately changed tone, saturation, brightness, contrast and many other elements to ensure the images would work well together. I also really like the arrangement of the items to create the overall effect – the telescope pointing into the box of starry sky is really effective. My use of typography here is playful, using the negative space to create an ‘l’ for the work ‘look’. The typeface is smooth, sans-serif and futuristic, linking to the theme of looking at ‘our destiny’. I think everything comes together nicely.

The pages that are successful balance every element – they have a collaged effect but aren’t too busy or overcrowded. The ‘diamond blood’ page is very different from most of the others (the pattern of triangles does link it to the ‘discoverers’ page) but it is very impactful. The typeface choice puts the image in the context of Russia, and having the word ‘diamond’ inside the word ‘blood’ is playful. I tried to use lots of methods of conveying both words – I created the watercolour triangles to build a diamond. I used free imagery of diamonds and changed the hue, saturation, brightness etc. to make them fit with the ‘blood’ theme. Some of these looked like droplets so I had them ‘drip’ from the corners of the triangles. It all comes together to create something quite sinister, but very eye-catching and undoubtedly inspired by the phrase.

Which have not turned out as well as you had hoped?

I felt that the ‘discovers’ page looked a bit odd as the only landscape image (that was not over a fold in the previous exercise). I wonder if I could rework this to fit with the others better – I want them all to work as a whole.

Although I love the arrangement on the ‘record player’ image, it feels like it is lacking texture. There are lots of blocks of flat colour; it feels as if these need breaking up somehow. I read about halftones in the brief and have not yet looked at this. I think I’ll try finding out how to achieve this effect in Affinity and rework the image.

The ‘build bridges’ final image is also one that niggles me. I played around with it a lot when initially creating it and after going away and coming back to it, I’m still not happy. I think it’s the pink ‘bridges’ typography that bothers me. It feels like the colour doesn’t fit and distracts from the other imagery in the collage. I’m going to return and see if I can change this.

Overall, I am really proud of the work I created for the previous exercise. I think bringing different elements together worked well – even though each image is very different, they seem to all tie together in style and even palette to a certain extent. They are all surreal collages of seemingly random items, but there are some common threads that run through. Hopefully I can highlight this even further when I collate and bind.

Reworking

First, I created a portrait version of my ‘discoverers’ page so it would tie in better with the rest of the images. I think the text may have lost some of its impact – which is a shame as I really liked this part of the image – but I tried moving the hands and changing their size and orientation to compensate for this. Overall, it looks like a balanced image and definitely portrays the ‘discovery’ theme.

Next, I played with halftone effects on the ‘record player’ image. I decided to focus on the two rectangles at the bottom of the page, as there is more texture towards the top, and I like the flat block of blue in the middle to break this up.

I added a new live filter of halftone and experimented with different effects. I am really happy with how this has improved the image. It links to the texture of the speaker on the image in the top left and looks quite retro. The colours still fit with the image.

Finally, the bridges image took some adjusting. I tried lots of different techniques that I had used in other images, as well as changing colours, positions, and sizes. I changed the letters from uppercase to lowercase and back again several times! Eventually, after some playing, I managed to create a kind of extension of the bridge image with the word ‘bridge’ repeated, and used the colours in the image to inform the colour of the text. This worked much better than the original pink word slapped in the middle of the page. The bridge word adds to the bridge structure, strengthening this meaning, and is much more integrated into the arrangement.

Step 2: Select and collate

I knew I wanted to include my new reworked images as well as the others I had created previously. As I was working through this exercise, I kept noting down ideas about how to put all my pages together. I still had the concept of a matryoshka doll in my head – some way of collating and binding that would give the reader the experience of opening the book and finding something unexpected/something is revealed. I also knew I wanted my pages to be double-sided/back-to-back so that there were images on both sides of the page. My sketchbook pages show some of my ideas.

I decided to try out a miniature version of the interlocking accordion, because it seemed like this would be very different and provide unexpected results with the images being cut and combined. I printed two accordion strips – one focusing on the start of the poem, with natural, brighter images, and one focusing on the end of the poem, with darker, fiery images. I really liked the effect of cutting and combining the images – it seemed to work well with the collage-style nature of my images. The symbolism of ‘traditional/rural’ and ‘new/urban’ clashing (a Cubo-Futurism feature) was also a welcome element. This format provided different ways of viewing the images, linking to the unconventional narrative – the reader could fold the pages in different ways and peek behind certain screens. I liked the end result!

But I wanted to try something different and more complex. I was very intrigued by the Turkish map fold. Having watched a few tutorials, I practised the fold on a square piece of paper and a rectangular piece of paper. It was incredible to watch the page open up in this new way – I liked the way the page ‘revealed’ itself, almost like a pop-up book. Still unsure of exactly how I would bind these pages (I had a few ideas floating around), I decided to create A4 pages to print and fold.

I chose to place the images in the running order of the poem. It made sense to me because of the happy accident of the colours progressively changing from bright to dark, and also because I had created the images in this order – it felt like a journey through the task, as well as the poem, however unconventional the narrative was. I made the pages A4, but with a 3mm border so I could trim them down once printed (my home printer always adds a border anyway, so I wouldn’t have been able to print the images up to the edge of the page).

Looking back through the paper samples I collected, I found my Art Nouveau Textiles book of papers and inspiration struck! The original poetry book was printed on old wallpaper, and the papers in this book reminded me of wallpaper. Reading the details of the paper book, Art Nouveau was established in Europe at the turn of the 20th century and grew to have an international presence in the years leading up to the first world war (making it appropriate for the time period of the poem). The paper mentions lots of influences, including Paris, Celtic, Japanese, and Russian symbolism. I decided to print each of my eight pages on eight different pages of this wallpaper-style paper and fold them using the Turkish map fold.

I deliberately chose specific papers for each page, to try to match the colours or themes. The images progress so beautifully from bright blues to dark reds, so I wanted the wallpaper to fit this as much as possible. The paler patterns on the left match the left images from the start of the poem and the darker patterns on the right (that also include more red) match the images from the end of the poem.

I enjoyed the folding process. The main downside of folding the pages was the marks it made on the images, but it didn’t impact them too much. I liked the way the image opened up like a flower and encouraged me to look inside and delve in. They have playful, pop-up qualities, matching the fun, expressive nature of Cubo-Futurists.

Although the brief talks about adding other imagery or ephemera, my images already have a collage-like quality to them, so I decided to stick with what I had. My main experimentation was obviously focused around the printing, collating, and binding of the pages.

Step 3: Binding

Once I had my folded pages, I played around with ideas for binding. Any stitched bindings might have restricted the opening of my folded pages – I did consider sticking each folded page between two other pages and binding these, but then I felt I might lose the impact of the patterns of the wallpaper. I decided that gluing each page together would provide the most free and interesting experience for the reader. After trying it with a couple of practise map folds, I realised that the paper would have some flexibility and bounce around – almost like it was dancing!

I glued each folded page together and let this dry. I then outlined two ‘covers’ – thicker pieces of card to stabilise the front and back. After considering a few options, I chose to use my concrete poem for the covers (it felt appropriate as I had definitely used the poem as a big influence on my entire book design). I also had a bit of the red floral paper left to stick on the other side of the cover.

After gluing the covers to the pages, I let them dry. The final product is brilliant fun to read! It can be opened at multiple angles – the pages have that flexibility with no spine – which gives the whole experience a playful feel. It truly is like the pages are moving/dancing on their own. The pages reveal themselves as you open each one, like a pop-up book, but it’s also like you’re delving into the image. It’s like a flower opening up too – you’re peering inside each image. I’m delighted with the symbolism and the way it works with the context of the poem. The pages look like a mixture between old and new, which is exactly what I was hoping for. The videos below shows how the book behaves when it is opened.

I wonder if the covers could look more aged perhaps – the white is quite stark against everything else and so looks a bit out of place. Other than this, I’m delighted with the final book. It captures the playful nature of the poem and illustrates the clash of traditional and new in every page. Instead of a conventional stitched book, I decided to go for something with movement and something that would be very interactive for the reader. Since I’d been reminded of matryoshka dolls, the idea of opening something up to reveal something else had stuck with me, so this definitely steered my ideas towards a more inventive approach to binding the pages together.

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