The Journey of an Accordion Book: A Creative and Critical Response

What makes an object a book–well as established by Borsuk, the essence of a book is defined as something beyond the object itself. Most simply, my book takes on a rectangular shape that is bound by a course yellow string that wraps around the off-white fabric cover on each of its sides. When titled from side to side, the reader encounters a definitively rough material that clings to the spine of each bend fastened between the outside hardcovers. When titled another way, the reader can see that the pages contained within this piece are prominent and three-dimensional. Upon opening this book, the reader is welcomed by a diverse array of colors and materials that signify an antique appearance. However, further examination allows the reader to recognize that this object is an accordion book. Borsuk provides a detailed account of the origins of the accordion book, which began in China during the eighth century, and describes how paper’s strength and malleability at the time led to the development of sutra-folded books (p. 36). This technique was then applied to scrolls which were folded back and forth in even widths to create an accordion.

In composing this object–which takes on the form of a book, I found that the purpose of my piece is quite far-reaching. Most simply, this book functions as a representation of the journey of life and my desire to travel the world. I like to think of this piece as unfinished and one of many volumes to come–because the journey of life never has a final destination, and I have so much left to explore. I find in inspiring how Borsuk states that books are fundamentally interactive reading devices who meanings are far from being fixed and arise at the moment of access (Borsuk 147).  

I chose the materials for my accordion book carefully as I wanted my book to illustrate a vintage theme. In composing my accordion book, I used scrapbooking materials and pieces of traveling remnants from some of my most favorite travel adventures. I wanted my book to embody a sense of comfort and familiarity. My book represents a kind of calming and creative conformity that surrounds my life and encompasses my personality.

I imagine the reader of my book to be open-minded, creative, and someone who can envision beyond the words stated on a page. The ideal reader of my book is someone who can interpret the language and style of my piece in a non-conforming way. My book reminds me of a pop-up book much like the one’s Borsuk describes in chapter 3 of The Book. Borsuk says that we see the book’s depth most readily in pop-up books, which unfold to fill each opening with material that pulls itself up off the page (Borsuk 149). My accordion book incorporates many three-dimensional characteristics that are intended to expand ‘off the page’. Moreover, I want my piece to be interpreted in many different ways and explored in many different respects. There is no singular key to understanding my composed accordion book; instead, it is meant to be an exploration of my life that is not “finished” and is intended to be calming and enjoyable. 

Work Cited

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

3 thoughts on “The Journey of an Accordion Book: A Creative and Critical Response”

  1. I like how you bring up the idea of pop-up book in relation to your accordion book. The three dimensional elements to your book make it even more interesting and add an extra element to the way the reader can experience it- touch. The way you stacked papers on top of each other adds a depth and richness to all of the content you were able to incorporate, causing the reader to look at each page for a longer time to really take it all in.

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  2. As a scrapbook about your travels, the content of your book really lives up to the expectations of your format. You left it open for a diversity of interpretations, while still keeping it contained to the idea of travel within the covers of your travel journal. The texture you added to the pages makes it seem like this book is from a different era, one we can only really enter from the outside.

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  3. You mention that you wanted to give your book a vintage vibe, and I just want to start off by saying you absolutely succeeded, it’s exceptionally gorgeous and makes me feel nostalgic, like I’m a tiny child flipping through my mom’s scrapbooks again. I absolutely love how much texture you’ve given your book; it really highlights how a book transcends beyond just the words on the pages, but can be understood through physical touch and interpretation.

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