Sunday, February 22, 2015

EX LIBRIS - a portfolio of photographs on printing

I have been assembling these photographs for several years with the idea of uniting them into a portfolio I am calling "Ex Libris" on the topic of the early book printing. Just recently the project has begun to coalesce into something resembling a coherent whole.

Most of the images were photographed wherever I found them, although recently I have been doing some specific still life setups on the theme. I am still not sure what printing process I will  use for the portfolio images. I am leaning towards a very limited edition of 9" x 9" or 10" x 10" gum bichromate prints as producing the most suitably somber, dark look I am seeking to achieve, although I am also considering larger 12" x 12" platinum prints, or even printing the images digitally -- so many decisions.

There is something nostalgically enticing in a very meditative way about the manual process of printing. I tried to capture this feeling in this series of images. Not all of these images will make the final cut to be included in the portfolio. I am still deciding among them and some others I have.

Decorative metal punches for the book cover.

Ancient manuscripts with vellum covers in the library of the Valldemossa monastery in Spain. Early printed books were sold without covers, as the owner was expected to have the book bound later. 

Detail of the hand of Leonardo Da Vinci holding a book,  from a statue in Florence.

A type setup for printing.

Found in a monastery in Valldemossa, Spain, the skull and book was to remind the monks of the ephemeral quality of life.

Four trays of Garamond fonts.

Detail of an old printing press with rollers and handle.

This open book with moving pages was photographed with the Fuji X-T1 and Zeiss Touit 50mm macro lens at an exposure of 1/5 second to blur the moving pages. 

A mix of individual metal fonts in varying small sizes.

Large wooden number fonts. 

I took this photo in obvious homage to Shakespeare's Macbeth:  "Out, out brief candle!"  It seemed to fit the series theme. series. 

"To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing."

Macbeth Act 5, scene 5, 19–28

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