Japanese graphic designer and architect Yusuke Oono (previously) released a trio of new laser-cut storybooks including depictions of ‘Jack in the Beanstalk’ and Mount Fuji. The books are comprised 40 images bound into a book that can be fanned out at 360° creating a narrative that can be explored from multiple angles. While these pieces seen here are one-off creations, Oono has several other folding books and lights available through Artechnica.
These fun little flip books made in Japan feature a number of unexpected designs that make use of negative space and secret “compartments” that are gradually revealed as you flip through the books. There are several books in the series published by Mou Hitotsu no Kenkyujo and you can pick them up on Amazon. Here’s the bug one. (via Travelry)
Freiburg, Kantons- und Universitätsbibliothek, MS L 34, 14th century
Another day, another collection of fascinating discoveries from medieval book historian Erik Kwakkel who previously introduced the internet to his observations on the history of doodles, color theory, and rare forms of bookbinding. Kwakkel has also been investigating how bookmakers found creative solutions around damaged parchment—thin membranes of cow and sheepskin used for printing books between the fifth and thirteenth centuries before the rise of paper. Parchment was extremely delicate and costly to manufacture well, so imperfections from animal hair follicles to small tears and texture anomalies were left for the poor scribes to contend with.
After witnessing their doodling artistry, it should come as no surprise that medieval scribes had a host of ideas to work around bad parchment, from webs of silk embroidery to cheeky illustrations, the blemishes were incorporated right into the physical texts. Although a different medium, the process is uncannily similar to the ancient Japanese process of repairing broken ceramics, Kintsugi, where fractures in pots or bowls are mended with precious metal, acknowledging the history of the imperfect object instead of discarding it.
Doodle by bored medieval school boy. A 15th-century doodle in the lower margin of a manuscript containing Juvenal’s Satires, a popular classical text used to teach young children about morals. Photo: Carpentras, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 368.
For the past few years, medieval book historian Erik Kwakkel has been poring over some of the world’s oldest books and manuscripts at Leiden University, The Netherlands, as part of his ongoing research on pen trials. Pen trials are small sketches, doodles, and practice strokes a medieval scribe would make while testing the ink flow of a pen or quill. They usually involve funny faces, letter strokes, random lines, or geometric shapes and generally appear in the back of the book where a few blank pages could be found. Kwakkel shares via email:
From a book historical perspective pen trials are interesting because a scribe tends to write them in his native hand. Sometimes, when they moved to a different writing culture (another country or religious house) they adapted their writing style accordingly when copying real text—books. The trials, however, are done in the style of the region they were trained in, meaning the individuals give some information about themselves away.
In some sense, these sketches are like fingerprints or signatures, little clues that reveal a bit about these long forgotten scribes who copied texts but who had no real opportunity to express themselves while working. Including additional sketches or even initials in these books was often forbidden.
While many of Kwakkel’s discoveries are standard pen trials, other doodles he finds relate to a human concept as universal as topics discussed in these 13th and 14th century books such as love, morals, or religion. Specifically: boredom. It seems the tedium of reading through a philosophy textbook or law manuscript dates back to the very invention of books. Some of these scribbles were even made hundreds of years after a book’s publication, suggesting no margin is sacred when monotony is concerned.
Medieval smiley face. Conches, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 7 (main text 13th century, doodle 14th or 15th century).
Doodle discovered in a 13th-century law manuscript (Amiens BM 347).
Students with pointy noses. Leiden, University Library, MS BPL 6 C (13th century).
Leiden, Universiteitsbibliotheek, BPL MS 111 I, 14th-century doodle.
Leiden UB VLQ 92
Medieval scribes tested their pens by writing short sentences and drawing doodles. The pen trials above are from Oxford, Bodleian Library, Lat. misc. c. 66 (15th century).
Lucky for us, Kwakkel has left a trail of ancient doodle discoveries all across the web on his Twitter account, his Tumblr, and on his recently established blog medievalbooks. His obsession with margin minutiae has lead to two scholarly publications and also caught the interest of NPR’s ‘How to Do Everything‘ who interviewed him last week. All images courtesy Erik Kwakkel, respective of noted libraries.
Jordan Robert Schwartz, Sean and Steph Mayo, Chris Maddison
Ekow Nimako, Tyler Halliwell
LEGO artist and author Mike Doyle (previously) just announced a macabre sequel to his wildly popular 2013 book, Beautiful LEGO, titled Beautiful LEGO 2: Dark. The new book examines the darker, disturbing side of brick building with 325 pages of LEGO creations organized into chapters like Creepy Crawlers, Evil Attunement, Dark Towers, Indulgences, Pits of Fire, and Riot Girls. In total, the book contains the collected work of 140 LEGO enthusiasts from around the world. It’s currently available for pre-order.
If you enjoyed Banksy’s wild romp through the streets of New York last year as part of his ‘Better Out than In’ residency, the entire 31 days is now meticulously documented in this new book from photographer Ray Mock. Available now from Carnage, Banksy in New York features over 120 photographs and illustrations organized day by day during the course of the artist’s New York escapade. Only 2,000 copies were printed and they’re selling quick. See more over on Brooklyn Street Art. (via Brooklyn Street Art)
Just published by Gingko Press, Paper Play is a new 256-page book exploring the use of paper in contemporary art and design. The book features no less than 82 designers and artists who use paper in sculptures, jewelry, street art, installations and everything else you can imagine. I started listing out all the artists we’ve featured here on the Colossal who are included in the book, but it got a bit unwieldy after a dozen. Pick it up here.