Imagines brings together four scores by composer Benjamin Dwyer, poems by Kimberly Campanello, commentary by New Dublin Press editor Jonathan Creasy and viola performance by Garth Knox. Dwyer’s score and Campanello’s poems were written in response to the enigmatic sheela-na-gig carvings found in Ireland. They traveled the country documenting what they found, making field recordings and drawings. The score features ‘extended techniques’ mastered by Garth Knox, one of the finest violists in the world for whom the piece was specifically composed. A recording of the full composition was made to coincide with the design of the book and the music is made available to anyone who purchased a copy of Imagines via digital download.
The goal of Imagines publisher was to create a book that was a seminal piece of musical documentation and one that pushed the boundary of traditional book design. A significant line from the original brief was ‘to create an object that is both useful and useless’ a book that when viewed as an individual piece was a printed archive of the project and work undertaken by the artists and at the same time serving a larger purpose when displayed as a series of objects. An edition that when viewed together in its entirety created a significant piece of art imbued with a function. When the complete set of books is laid out in sequence it forms the full composition of scores intersected with Campenello’s poetry. This in turn allows the violist to play directly from the piece.
With this concept informing the design of Imagines, the book was produced in a limited edition of 84 copies with each copy running to 168 pages. This allowed for four 32 page sections buffered by five 8 page sections which were thread sown in 8’s and 16’s to ensure the books lay as flat as possible when opened. Each score is preceded by project narrative and a specific poem that informs the following composition. We typeset the narrative and poetry using white ink on black uncoated paper (120gsm GFSmith Colourplan Ebony) and the compositions were printed on an ivory paper (120gsm GFSmith Mowhawk Superfine) using two spot pantones. This was a direct attempt to create a visual and physical separation between each composition. As a result of binding the book in these sections we achieved a unique side-on view of the book that visually forms a musical stave. Given the archival nature of the project, Imagines was case bound using grey linen with a metallic foil block on both the front and back.
A fundamental aspect of the project was to visually balance the content this being; the commentary, poetry and music. We looked to give each of these aspects their own distinct presence whilst tying them together with a visually holistic solution. All of the contributors produce their work in a very contemporary and modern way. The commentary is simplistic content about the project that can be viewed as independent statements either read in sequence or in no sequence at all. Kimberly’s style of poetry is highly visual and typographically considerate in the approach to its layout, with Benjamin’s compositional work being phenomenally detailed and distinctive in its style. Given such rich content we were highly considerate as to how we could bring a strong and relative graphic design element into the project.
We designed an original musical typeface for Imagines. Dwyer’s score was re-created using this typeface giving the project a unique identity. The typeface itself strips away all of the unnecessary ornamentation of traditional musical notation reducing each note to only the most significant lines and shapes. This process was completed in collaboration with the composer, with his approval sought on each note and close inspection of the final layout. The commentary and specifically the poetry were typeset using detailed typographic grid systems that relate directly to the score whilst allowing for Kimberly’s direct input into the poems final layout. The poetry and commentary was then typeset on the black paper in white ink to give it a further individual presence within the book.
The photography for Imagines was taken by the studio on the 31st of October 2014 on the island of Achill Co.Mayo. The compositional work and poetry which form the basis of the project were produced by Benjamin Dwyer and Kimberly Campanello whilst in residence at the Heinrich Boll cottage on Achill. Throughout the duration of the project both of the artists reiterated the significance of the island and its climates influence on the creation of their work. They spoke in detail about the unique colors, weather and light on the island that deeply influenced the mood of the piece. From a design point of view we wanted the photography to establish a sense of place from where the music and poetry were created without overpowering the book. We spent a weekend on Achill using the evenings to document the sweeping cloud formations that roll over the western most point of the island. That collection of images was then used throughout the book to punctuate the presence of silence within the musical compositions. Significant attention was paid to the colors evident in the environment around and on the island and we allowed these natural tones to inform the color choices for both the inks and materials used in the printing of the book.
Each of the books in the edition of 84 were displayed in sequence and used in the premiere performance of Imagines by Garth Knox and Kimberly Campanello at the Barrow River Arts Festival, 2015. This was the first and last time that the books were seen as a complete set forming one piece. The books went on sale immediately after the performance with copies being acquired by private collectors, institutions and notably the special collections archive in University College Dublin.
168pp with end papers. Thread sown and bound with hard back linen cover with head and tail bands, foil blocked front and back. Internal pages printed on GFSmith Colourplan ebony and mowhawk superfine. Printed on a HP digital indigo press using one special white and 2 spot PMS colours throughout.