[ Schäpers, Veronika ] Grünbein, Durs. 26°57,3'N, 142°16,8'E. Tokyo: Veronika Schäpers. 2007.
Designed and created by book artist Veronika Schäpers, this book features three poems by the German writer Durs Grünbein with a Japanese translation by Yuji Nawata. The title of the book refers to the coordinates at which Japanese biologist Tsunemi Kubodera took the first photographs of a living giant squid, the Architeuthis, in the ocean in 2004. The poems – “Architeuthis,” “Sous les Mers,” and “Remora” – consider the giant squid and other deep-sea creatures.
After visiting Kubodera at the National Museum of Science in Tokyo in 2006, Schäpers decided to illustrate these poems by drawing on scientific data provided by the biologist as well as on nautical charts leading to the discovery of the giant squid. After printing gradients of blue, grey, and black on extremely thin 50-year-old toshaban-genshi paper, the artist folded each sheet at the fore edge and placed, within each of these enclosures, a printed sheet containing the scientific data and details from the nautical charts. She then cut away part of the wrapping sheet to reveal the print material in horizon-like strips that vary in location from page to page. The thin, translucent paper and the layout of the pages create a dynamic interplay of transparency and opaqueness that mimics the darkness of the mysterious underwater environment in which the Architeuthis lives.
The gradients on the toshaban-genshi paper were printed from vinyl mats, while the text of the poems was set in Adobe Garamond for the German and Hiragino Mincho for the Japanese. The book was letterpress printed using polymer plates. In an echo of the title, 26°57,3'N, 142°16,8'E, and of the centuries-old human technology that guided the explorers to their discovery, all the periods in the poems are replaced with degree marks and all the commas with minute marks.
This volume is bound in flexible covers made of transparent vellum, allowing the reader to see the pages inside, and scuffed by the artist to represent whitecaps on the sea. The front and back covers each have a magnetic strip at the fore edge to act as a closure. The book is protected by a two-piece box made of heavy, semi-transparent acrylic. The box is wrapped in a black felt enclosure that is held together with a black elastic band.
This book was created in an edition of 36 copies numbered with Arabic numerals and 8 copies numbered with Roman numerals. This copy is signed and numbered VII by the artist and the poet at the colophon.
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