I almost believe that they’re real

Self-portrait in books

I’ve been intrigued by book spine stories for a while. I probably first saw them through LibraryThing’s contests (which they call bookpiles). Then recently, I was tagged in a wave of Facebook chain posts asking me to “list 10 books which have stuck with you.”

I saw the call for TDC 984 while I was at work. Looking over at my bookshelf, I saw my professional history – a paraprofessional job coding HTML, a transition into reference librarianship, a core text of instructional design, and all the while, a commitment to the broad liberal arts. So I played with different ways of arranging them in my window (it’s work, boss, honest) and snapped a picture with the Flickr app.

Rereading the instructions, it occurred to me that this is something like a Cubist exercise – it’s a picture of me, abstracted from 3 different angles at once. Obviously I didn’t achieve that with the visual style, but the realization helped me decide that I wanted to present different parts of myself more than I wanted to play with the poetic or narrative power of book titles.

The middle panel is just 3 things I like – cooking and storytelling, poetry, and broad humor. The shot is taken on the staircase in my home, largely because the exercise had reminded me of Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase (No. 2).

Backgrounds are important in these shots – out the window of my office, the staircase, the top panel, which is about my wife and myself, is on our porch. They contribute to the story as much as the titles do. I used the Flickr app’s preloaded filters to get the colors where I wanted them. It felt a bit like a cheat compared to actually understanding how to set color levels, but it’s a start.

I got frustrated trying to figure out how to arrange the three pictures in GIMP. The importance I’d ascribed to the backgrounds fought with the collage arrangements I imagined.  Ultimately I decided to go vertical on the grounds that a finished imperfect create beats a perfect one which never gets published.

I’m not entirely clear if it’s supposed to be read top-to-bottom or bottom-to-top… it hasn’t told me yet.

2 thoughts on “I almost believe that they’re real”

  1. I love it and specifically I really like the meaning you assign to the backgrounds… I never thought about that but of course the foreground takes meaning against a background. Really enjoyed your narrative about the artefact. Cheers!

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