Conversations we don’t get to hear

by Jacob L. Snizik

For my critical response, I thought first to one of the zines I saw whenever we went to the museum. What I’ve written isn’t a zine, it’s more like a comic, but what I did take from the zine is to have non-human characters in my story.

When thinking of lines and points from Borsuk’s The Book, I found one by Stephane Mallarme. “Everything in the world exists in order to end up as a book”

In the zine I looked at, which I can’t really remembered the content of, there were a pair of little birds, talking to each other about something. The lock screen on my computer features the mountain range that runs through Patagonia in the south Argentina, a range that ends in the Tierra del Fuego, or the Land of Fire to the extreme south. ending with the ocean.

Two animals that live in the area are the Wandering Albatross, and the Magellanic Penguin. I used them as my protagonists and they explain to each other the environments that live in as you can see at the top. They are separate, while still inhabiting the same Argentinian ecosystem.

Is my object a book, I say yes. it has a front, back and contexts in the middle, and the only reason it isn’t bound is because it’s too small to run a staple through. The material I used was white gold card stock, since I didn’t want to use normal paper but I did want something light enough to be able to write and draw on with ease. If I had an even further abstract connection, the material and its feel in a way connect to the rough and wild setting I’m writing about.

The book itself is plain, and the blankness of the pencil I used makes the reader focus, I would imagine, on the dialogue on the paper. As far as an audience, I’m not sure who would be interested in this. Despite the likely assumption, I don’t mean for this to be a comment on our impact on the environment. I imagine it being like the animals in The Jungle Book, people are foreign to them, the penguin and the albatross live without man, and because of that, the holder of the land is completely lost to them. The main characters being animals, they speak very simply and plainly to each other. Their conversation is a series of explanations ending with a speculation about their world.

Again to quote Borsuk, but this time directly, “Artists’ books have taken myriad shapes over the years, so what follows are a series of examples that draw our attention to the specific affordances of the book to worth noting.” My book is a physical book, with two characters in a setting with a discussion that begins and ends. What this exercise in creation shows us all, is that the term “book” can be as loose or rigid as the author, designer, and publisher intends it to be.

3 thoughts on “Conversations we don’t get to hear”

  1. “If I have the air…and I have the sea…who owns the land?” At first glance, your book doesn’t catch my eye as much as some of the other projects. There are no bright colors, and you stuck with a fairly traditional style. However, I’m glad I read on in your pictures, because the story, while a little predictable at first, leaves readers with a very satisfying, thought-provoking ending! It’s almost like poetry…I actually think your whole story could work very successfully as a poem; it does also reflect on the style of zines we saw at the Carnegie. The simple pencil makes the reader focus on the words, as you suggested. A lot of us were very focused on having an “out-there” object, but you concentrated on the words and readers can certainly see the fruit of it! I could see this as an illustrated children’s book if you further developed it!


  2. I really like the story you have here! I chuckled a bit at the end. The simplicity and thought provoking nature of the story reminds me of a good Shel Silverstein book, such as “The Missing Piece.” Great work here! I used to make books like this all of the time when I was younger, so I really appreciate the style of the book here.


  3. I’m so interested in, among other things, the weight of the “ending” as a concept in this book. Tierra del Fuego is the ‘end of the earth,” and you seem to harness the folded book form, as it creates a space with a concrete beginning and end, to highlight the notion of “ending-ness.” Come to think of it, what is most characteristic of narratives are their beginnings and ends, their “once upon a time,” and their “THE END,” and I wonder how much of that has to do with the shape of the book and the ritual gestures of opening and closing it. I love how their conversation in the text itself engages these ideas.


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