Teeth and Things

Flowerfold book, digital print on archival paper
Edition of 25

I made this little book as part of an ongoing collaboration with Tom Lee. Tom writes essays about body parts which I am turn into illustrated books – the first essays on Feet and Teeth were published as Analogue Bodies Vol. 1. As a challenge to myself, I decided to illustrate Tom’s essays using only images from the public domain – free to reuse because the copyright has lapsed or the copyright holder has released the images under Creative Commons licenses. As I browsed for images, I noticed how many things look like teeth: mushrooms, corn kernels, root vegetables, gem stones, pomegranates. I started to digitally collage teeth and things that look like them. I make things as a way of thinking through what I’m working on at the time – I wasn’t intending to do anything with these collages, I made them because it amused me to do so.

At the time, I was also teaching a publication design class and one in-class exercise I set the students was to make a flower-fold book. It struck me that the flower-fold format resembles a mouth: how better to present a series of images about teeth than through a mouthy format? I’m using the book form to tell a story that you read with your hands as well as your eyes. Once you’ve read (or looked at) all the pages, a visual story is revealed that is greater than the sum of its parts. You can look at photographs of this book, but it’s not the same as experiencing it in your hands – there’s no sense of how small it is, and you lose the experience of each page gaping open to reveal a new collection of toothy-looking things.

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