For as much as I love my Kindles, I admit they can’t do this trick. The painting on the foreedge remains hidden until the book is opened, and then it provides a sensory pleasure that goes beyond the words. This particular volume is Autumn, by Robert Mudie, and dates to 1937. The trick is far older than that; foreedge paintings go back to the tenth century, and the earliest known disappearing foreedge paintings to 1649.
To accomplish this early Easter egg, the book would have to be clamped into a slightly splayed position, painted, allowed to dry, and then gilted on the edge when closed. Not only that, but it would have to be painted with a medium that wouldn’t stick the pages together or damage them from moisture or solvents. Perhaps the artists among us have an idea. Watercolor in the hands of a master?
This is what an enhanced book looks like in print.
We’re all used to the idea of easter eggs in games, spots where something hidden and unexpected turns up. The trick is a lot older than we thought.
Now I have to go flip pages in every old book on my shelf, just to see if anything amazing lurks on the very edge of each sheet. I’m not really hopeful; not a lot of my library is that old. The technique dates back to around 1650, but I think we’re looking at nineteenth century examples here.
Some books even have one picture on the forward edge and another on the rear edge. In this instance, I will concede that a print book really does have it over an ebook, and that it’s not just about the words.
And I think I might have found it already if anything in my collection was as amazing as this:
Link to more information at the Meta Picture, and thanks to the Passive Voice for bringing it to my attention.
I have the greatest veneration for books: many of my most treasured possessions are books, and to this day making a note in a margin feels like a small sacrilege. So it comes as a great surprise how excited I can get over altered book art.
Some, like Alice in Wonderland and others by this artist team, are whimsical adaptations of the text into visual art. But I’ve never seen anything like the landscapes from Guy Laramee.
In his own words:
… I want to examine thinking, not only “what” we think, but “that” we think.
So I carve landscapes out of books and I paint romantic landscapes. Mountains of disused knowledge return to what they really are: mountains. They erode a bit more and they become hills. Then they flatten and become fields where apparently nothing is happening. Piles of obsolete encyclopedias return to that which does not need to say anything, that which simply IS…
And so a history of Japan can become a shrine on the side of Mt Fuji and I will not cry desecration; a text of metals and ores becomes a cavern and something new has come into the world.
See more here, and at Guy Laramee’s website.
Click to enlarge any of these pictures.
Drawing the reader into the book is every author’s goal, but I don’t think any of us thought of this method. Down a rabbit hole indeed!
Kelly Campbell re-imagined Alice in Wonderland, and while I don’t normally approve of tearing the pages, what she’s done here is so clever I’d go rummaging on my bookshelves for another victim.
Mounted in a shadow box, story becomes visual art. Check the details.
Apparently this project was born when the artist found a damaged book with illustrations too lovely to throw away.
She has other titles; see the rest at Etsy.