California native Julie Chen writes of her practice, “My work is heavily rooted in the idea of the book as a physical object and a time-based medium. I view reading as an intimate act in which the reader must be in close physical proximity to the book…and must interact with the book through manipulation of the book’s physical structure. I strive to present the reader/viewer with an object that challenges preconceived notions of what a book is…” Chen’s deep commitment to the reader’s self-directed engagement with the form and content of a book led her to establish Flying Fish Press, which specializes in the design and publication of limited-edition artists’ books that often include moveable book structures and three-dimensional formatting. “Often,” writes Chen, “the reader must engage in unexpected physical actions such and the unfolding or sliding of pages, the turning of a wheel, the tilting of a box in order to fully read/view a piece.” Cat’s Cradle’s carousel structure––five spreads, each with 3 layers of overlapping concertina folds––creates a three-dimensional spectacle of interlocking words and cuts that can be opened back on itself and tied together to create a star-shaped structure. The concept for the book was derived using “artist’s book ideation cards” created in collaboration with fellow book specialist Barbara Tetenbaum. Each card holds a distinct category of instruction for the content or physical form of a book, allowing for an infinite number of selections. The cards drawn for Cat’s Cradle included:
Color: Least Favorite
Layout: Across the Fold
Structure: Innovative Binding
Adjectives: Mysterious, Spiritual, Encyclopedic, Organic, Lyrical
Digitally printed on Mohawk Superfine paper with laser cut elements, Cat’s Cradle was printed in an edition of 50 copies.