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Keith Smith

BOOK  91, STRING BOOK Keith Smith (1982) 

Keith Smith's famous "String Book". It was included in a show called Treasures from the Special Collections of the Library of Congress. Hand die-cut, with string strung by Keith Smith, in an edition of 50 with an additional hors de commerce edition A through E. The text block and cover are Fabriano paper.

Keith Smith writes: "After we finished working on Patterned Apart for Spaceheater Editions, Philip asked to produce another book by me, in a rather different approach. Since I was making many ones-of-a-kind  imaged with no text or pictures, we decided upon a sequence created by thread piecing the pages of an otherwise blank book. Turning the pages creates sound, and several threads piercing pages varies the tension of turning pages. Viewed with a single light source there are cast shadows that vary in focus. I consider Book 91, A String Book, as a photographic book. When I took a copy of the book into Nathan Lyons’ classroom to show him and his students, he looked at his class and said, This is one of my favorite photographic sequences.” I do not know if his students understood or agreed, but I was honored by his remark."

Although not shown here that way, Keith intended the book to be viewed by a single 45 degree raking light source. This cast shadows of the thread and circles of light cast on subsequent pages, as Keith mentions above, are some of the fascinating features of this influential and canonic book. The last image in the slide show on the right shows a guide sheet that Keith Smith created at the time of publication to show the proper way to view the book. The sound of the thread going through the holes was an important part of the book for Smith. The book "self-rewinds" so that once one has gone through page to page from start to finish the book can be started again at the very beginning with the string in the proper position for another viewing.


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