Lifelines: A Creative/Critical Response

When making my accordion book, I wanted it to function both as a traditional book and as an artist book. It’s traditional in the way that the accordion folds form pages that can be flipped through the same way one would flip the pages of a textbook, it has a front and back cover, a title, and text and images that make up a story. However, it also functions as an artist book through the way that the content within it is “interrogated and integrated into the way the work makes meaning” (Borsuk 115). The form of the book allows it to be read in a variety of different ways, which can enhance of distract from the overall meaning of the piece. The artist book form serves as a reminder that books are not merely static outlets to share information from. Rather, they can be “a negotiation, a performance, [or] an event” that invites the reader in a way that reminds them of their role in its content (Borsuk 147).

[Top Image] The front side of my accordion book. [Botton Image] The back side of my accordion book. Both pictures taken by author.

The concept behind my book is to explore the themes of connection and relationship through those in my life that are part of my present as well as my past and future. These relationships are represented through a variety of lines, with mine being highlighted in red and the lines of those around me in black. Each line comes from an image of someone who is connected to me in some way: great grandparents, grandparents, parents, sister, cousins, old friends, new friends, and so on. In keeping with the color scheme of the older images of my grandparents and great grandparents I decided to reduce the saturation of the more modern images, which allows my lifeline to stand out more prominently. The redness of my line almost functions as a vein of blood inside the other entanglements evoking a sense of being alive.

A second angle of the book, showing another way it can be read. Photo by author

The content within the accordion book reflects the deeper desires that every person has for connection. Human beings are social creatures, and as such, we long to be close to those around us in some capacity. The themes present within my book seek to capture the chaotic knot of the ever-evolving relationships present within our lives. We are all connected to so many people around us, and the images and text of the book encourages those who read it to contemplate their own lifelines and the paths they have taken.

The form of the accordion book highlights the intimacy and sentiment of the content, which is best expressed when the book is fully expanded to reveal the continuous lifeline that stretches across the entire project, never breaking even when it continues onto the other side. These concepts are further realized by the language of the text which explores the relationship and intimacy the lines convey. Artists books such as my accordion book utilize all the book elements to convey meaning, forcing the reader to redefine their concept of the book. In the chapter “The New Art of Making Books,” Amaranth Borsuk discusses Ulises Carrion’s concept of the “bookwork” as “a conceptual approach to book making, and one that relies on the viewer’s interactions with the object to make meaning” (Borsuk 145). These kinds of artist books “separate the idea of the book from the object,” allowing for a richer interpretation of the content as a whole, which is what the strategic integration of content and form in my book aimed to accomplish (Borsuk 145).

Work Cited

Borsuk, Amaranth. The Book. Cambridge, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 2018. 

3 thoughts on “Lifelines: A Creative/Critical Response”

  1. I thought the choice to keep all of the photographs desaturated made for an evocative aesthetic– the black-and-white, the lack of colour reminds me of old photo albums. The pictures all seem to be from “way back when;” it’s comforting to see all these relations and their connections, yet a little sad to see them all in monochrome– in the past. They almost seem a little unreal.


  2. I really enjoyed how you made your accordion book function as a traditional book and as an artist book. In addition, I like that the form of your book allows it to be read in various ways, which absolutely enhances the overall meaning of the piece. The ways in which you explore the themes of connections and relationships through those close in your life that are a part of your present, in addition to your past and future-is beautifully constructed.


  3. I think the quote you used in the first paragraph about artist books — that they are a performance, a negotiation, an event — perfectly encapsulates how I feel as a reader engaging with your book. I think choosing to make the pictures follow the same monochromatic theme adds to this “event” that I engage with as a reader — it feels as though I’m witnessing the steps you’ve taken along the course of your life, like your red thread is a path on a map that stands out so starkly and beautifully against the desaturated images. Overall, I just think your book is really beautiful.


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