The Anthropocene is here, and I hope that is the message people walk away with when they see my work. For my artist’s book Deep Time, I decided that I would convey geologic time by making the reader think about how much time it might have taken to create every aspect of the book. In the process, perhaps they would be able to put geologic time in perspective.
Deep Time is letterpress printed on unbound sheets of kozo paper dyed with cloves and indigo. The imagery engraved in wood has been adapted from contour maps of the Himalayan range, and the cut shapes are the boundaries of the highest physical of our planet: the Tibetan Plateau, the Kanza’gyal mountain range, and the Andes Mountains. These three locations are the highest places on our planet that are shaped by erosion and sedimentation.
The book has been dyed with indigo and clove to reference water and soil and the ever-changing relationship between these two forces. We may not see this change actively taking place on a daily basis because the processes are so slow. But today, human actions are causing catastrophic changes to topography at a much faster rate.
I really wanted the processes I used to make the reader think about the time it took to make the book: dyeing the paper, engraving the fifteen unique woodblocks for the images that change on each page, hand-cutting the paper for the entire edition, and designing and making a box for each book. Endgrain wood takes a long time to carve into. I started working on dyeing the paper in 2017, and finished trimming the last book in 2021.
The thing most people come away with after handling this book is rising sea levels the world over. From people who make it to the end and read the colophon, I’ve often heard that they had no idea about the role erosion and sedimentation play in shaping our world, nor do they realize that landforms look very different when not divided by national boundaries. My hope is that we start to consider that we are part of the problem, and it is on us to change the outcome. The climate crisis is everyone’s problem. It does not belong to one or the other nation, but the whole planet.