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Books, Boxes, and
Representation of Information

How does representing information in a specific way blur the line between fact and fiction? My favorite example of this is Victorian era field guides. Due to many logistical factors, most science during this time was represented via illustrations. Photography was starting to show real promise, however, the technology of the time still required hefty equipment and lengthy exposure times making it difficult to use in the field. Specimens often were brought back to labs and studios, however, again technology presented hiccups with this as well. Travel took much longer in the 17th and 18th centuries than it does now. The issues with the technology at the hands of Victorian scientists are very obvious to us today in the context of accurately portraying animal and botanical specimens, especially animals. Proportions are distorted, patterns are exaggerated, etc. Despite all this, Victorians had no reason to believe any of this information was less accurate than they were seeing because of the context in which it was portrayed. Accredited individuals, most frequently being white men of privilege, were presenting illustrations in an academic context. Furthermore most Victorians had ever seen the specimens outside of their homeland, so they had no grounds in which to dispute this information.


Using this phenomena as a case study in the power of representing information to make it more or less convincing has become integral in the making of Uncommon Biologies of the Uncommon World. Using the field guide and textbook format of representing information has allowed me to build  fictional facts and figures in a convincing way. While much of the content for this future world is grounded in factual research thus making it sound real, presenting my data in a format that mimics that of something with academic standing only supports my efforts of making my work believable and seemingly factual.

food paper.jpg

Food Paper (paper making experimentations and nutrition and food systems research)

handmade clam shell box 

1 sheet cotton with purple rice inclusion

1 sheet carrot paper

Responding to Research

Some of the content in my book and box structures are merely me responding to research. Working in this fashion allows me to practice technical skills of making artists’ books, while also presenting my text and imagery in an intimate manner. Because my work is text and science heavy, I want my viewers to have the option of sitting down, holding my work and experiencing it in a personal manner at a pace that they can dictate. I want them to be able to have some control over how they digest the information in my work.

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