Making the Book: Black Ice
When I went to Germany last winter, for the first time after more than 3 years, it was only natural to take my camera and use photography to connect to what I was feeling when re-visiting all these places I had rich memories tied to.
Acting out of intuition at first, I pretty soon knew what I wanted to say – my vision was clear and I worked every day on this Germany project I had on mind.
This book here is an initially unplanned side project, a sub chapter of this larger Germany project.
At the core, I was looking to capture the invisible bond of memories connected to these places of my past. Places that make me re-live certain events, painful and happy alike; and yet, memory doesn’t work like a video recorder. Memory changes upon re-living it. The harder you try to see and remember, the deeper you go, layer by layer, the more likely you are to re-write and change your past without even realizing it. Until you become convinced of it. Until you feel that you really experienced it. Crazy huh?
With this in mind, not articulated yet, though, I set out to take photos…
Back in Japan, I then spent a long time with these photographs, putting them on my wall, living with them while focusing on other things. I went into the incubation phase I mentioned before in “The Yin and Yang of Creativity.”
One of those other things I was focusing on is learning how to make proper books with my own hands. Materials, techniques, binding, gluing, folding… Using ancient manuscripts and modern textbooks as a guide. Fascinating stuff, and powerful. (And fun!) Sure, you could merely have your photos printed in a book and that’s it – as many people do -, and that’s fine, but a book can be so much more than that.
I realized pretty soon that the photos I put on my wall didn’t quite convey what I wanted to say; this didn’t work as I imagined it. At the same time, though, all kinds of ideas jumped into my mind how a book and its 3-dimensionality, as well as a rather unconventional way of printing, could be much more effective at expressing this… and so the first pebbles started rolling. They set others in motion, and a chain reaction started, that with lots of ups and downs (it was not so easy to figure printing on black paper out, haha) 6 months later cumulated into a little book: “White Snow on Black Ice”
This is not merely a photo book anymore. It is not what you imagine when you hear the word “photo book”. Instead, it’s an object that conveys an experience that would be impossible to convey in mere photographs, especially not on a screen. Some people will hate it because of the way the “photos” are represented, fleeting, hard to see. That’s fine, but they miss the point.
Compared to the other books that are in the pipeline right now, this is by far my most experimental and “impressionistic” one; the overall feeling and mood the book conveys is more important than the photos themselves.
Actually, as you already saw and know if you’re subscribing to my monthly newsletter, I already finished making the first “dummy” book. Since it is not the final book, I won’t show it publicly here on my blog, but it is almost identical to the finished book.
Is the final book perfect? Hell, no. Of course, with things like this you have to compromise on some points, and I’m sure I could spend another 6 months on improving minor details. Actually some troll is pulling me pretty hard right now to do just that… you know how it is to get lost in details. And of course, there is still so much more to learn – but isn’t there always?
There is a time for improving, and there is a time for shipping – and this baby is ready to see the light of the day now.
This video shows in a minute how I did the binding:
I could go on and on and on about the book thing in general, about the hours spent learning paper, gluing and binding, about this project in particular… For now, though, I’ll leave you with this here – the progress of making the first edition of “White Snow on Black Ice”.
Update (2014/8/3): The book is finished. See detailed photos of how it turned out on the new holger feroudj / store section.