Saturday, August 24, 2013

Black Swans help launch a new altered book

I hope you'll join me as I start a new AB.

I realize I said I wasn't going to make another AB, but here I am, starting a new one, while several sit unfinished.  This one will be for various techniques or projects I want to try before I commit to more expensive substrates.

Here I've tested the sewn spine by pressing the pages backward in various places until the two covers met.  Next, I pulled out about 1/3 of the book pages.  All that was needed now, was a bit of inspiration.

The black swan caught my attention (and imagination) when I saw this swan image in a magazine.  I decided to make the background look like the black swan's wings in flight, since there is white underneath the black feathers.  Originally native to Australia, hunted to extinction in New Zealand, and coveted by some towns in Great Britain, these swans have an even deeper symbolism than their seemingly mythical beginnings.

As long ago as ancient Greek writings, black swans were assumed to not exist.  All "known" swans were white.  When discovered in Australia in 1697, the term Black Swan soon became well known, reaching England, where many pub owners named their English pubs "Black Swan."

And then there's the British saying "All his swans are turned to geese," which means a person's expectations were set too high.  Some poets and writers then turned that saying around to "All his geese are swans," which implies people place too much importance on their possessions.

Another myth, propagated by short sighted individuals, claims Black Swans are as dangerous and evil as black cats.  Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake adds credence to that myth, since the evil antagonist (Odile) is a black swan to the protagonist (Odette), a white swan.

Of course, what I think of when I hear the word "Black Swan" comes from my days as a scientist and statistician.  On a normal bell curve, the very ends of the curve are known as "outliers," or those extreme numbers (observations) that fall so far away from the center of the curve they are considered either random events, or measurement error.  If they are statistically improbable, they are sometimes usually called "Black Swans."  Examples of recent Black Swans include 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon that brought New York City and the airplane industry to their knees, the global financial crisis of 2008 that wreaked global havoc to the world's monetary system, and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2011 that took its toll on both human and many species lives dependent upon that body of water.

In 2007, Nassim NicholasTaleb wrote a book entitled The Black Swan.  Later that year in a New York Times article, he explained his concept of Black Swans:
What we call here a Black Swan (and capitalise it) is an event with the following three attributes. First, it is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility.  Second, it carries an extreme impact. Third, in spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable.
I now give you my interpretation of this anomaly known as Black Swans.  Materials used: magazine images, black paint, black lace.

I hope you enjoyed this because although this may look like a "normal" altered book, it is not going to be my normal themes and techniques.

23 thoughtful remarks:

voodoo vixen said...

Now this was all totally interesting but I am more excited at the fact that when I restart my altered book, i will have company on the journey!!

Anneliese said...

Thank you, Elisabeth, for this wonderful post. I love the sayings. I am always following you with interest.

dawn said...

WOW, you always impress me with your research and knowledge of so many things. There is something to learn in most of your posts. Loved reading this and especially seeing where your interests take you.

So excited about your new AB, can't wait to see what else you will do with it. Love the beginning of it, looks awesome!!

Have a great weekend!

Craftymoose Crafts said...

This is a really interesting post. I once visited a restaurant in Florida as a child, called The Kapok Tree, and remember vividly the black swans that inhabited their lake.

In a few weeks when I find more time (and start seeing more of your new altered book posts) I know I will be stepping down to the basement to pull out one from my hoard of sewn books to get started again, too!

I saw your comment on my blog--we worry (as parents) about the same thing, too; however after her navigating England by herself and the fact that she will still be living in a dorm, two short stops away from her job & classes...well, you have to let go a little sometimes.

Lisa Graham Art said...

Hello Elizabeth! You are always doing so many new things...your motivation is inspiring!

I love your clothesline post too. My mother has always said the same thing about the wonderful smell. It's too back clotheslines seem to be a thing of the past.

I did not know they had closed the bridge at the Keeper. There were several times though that I could not walk on the bike path because it was under water. The benches at The Hyatt were all under water too.

Have a great weekend!

elle said...

wow, no way I am tackling another new project but I was very impressed with the last altered book class you ran and I actually finished. This is really interesting and for sure I'll be following as I actually do have a few pages left in my technique book. ;)

Nan G said...

Whoa what an interesting post today! Learned some history and a bit more about you too. Look forward to seeing how this progresses. In fact, I'm going to take time tis morn and check out some of your other altered books. Enjoy the journey!

Divers and Sundry said...

i'm looking forward to seeing this process from the very beginning. how do you remove the pages? and do you remove random pages or do you count them off and take out every 3rd page or something?

i love the picture, and the "black swan" as outlier is a new concept to me. thx! :)

Monica said...

I continue to work on the AB started 10 years ago called friends. The delay is due to the angst following my incorporation of deceased friends.

Krisha said...

VERY interesting post Elizabeth.
I like the idea of having an altered book for trying different things. This is sometimes what I use my art journal for and now I can call those really unusual pages my Black Swans....LOL
Thanks or sharing, I do like your Black Swan pages.

Dianne said...

so interesting! I did not know any of the background on black swans...not even the mythology- so I found this quite informative. and it cracks me up that you are starting another project after swearing not to do another AB! I can sooo relate. I like the term "UFO." un finished objects. yes. I have a few of those... lovely start to your technique book!

Ann B said...

Afraid I only got through about half of your course Elizabeth but I haven't given up, just taken a break. Will be good to catch your inspiration again.
Sorry not to have returned your WOYWW visit this week, don't know where the time has gone. Promise to do better next week.
Ann B

Monique said...

Loved your explanation of black swans and the usage of is as a term.
I think they are gorgeous, but then again, that may be because I love black. Your page with the swan is gorgeous and I love the suggestion of the wings.
xx Monique

Janet said...

I shall look forward to watching the progress of this new AB. Making one is somehow very liberating and good for the soul!

Janet xx

Dawn said...

Whoop whoop, another one on the go Elizabeth, lol I don't blame you sweetie. I LOVE your swan spread, soooooo striking with the black background. What a wealth of information too, you really are a star you know. I have been lucky enough to see these amazing birds at Leeds Castle in Kent(UK), they are truly magnificent to behold.
Huge hugs x x x x

Rita said...

Interesting information and I love the way you started this altered book! Going to be fun to see what you do with it. Love the black swan, BTW. :)

Halle said...

Starting a new AB is totally fine!! That way you have lots of options when the creative bent strikes you.

Little Messy Missy said...

Very cool indeed!

Anonymous said...

Just back from a trip. Most marvelous start to this new book and always a lesson and so,e history to ponder on too! Xox

Denise Price said...

I learned a lot about black swans from your post! I knew almost nothing about them before.

It's interesting to see your process for your altered book. Glad I got to see the beginning of this one. I'm sure I'll enjoy watching this book develop. Thanks for sharing.

see you there! said...

I look forward to following along as you create your Black Swan altered book. I'm sure it will be interesting and provide us with lots of information and ideas for creating art.


BJ said...

And why not do another altered book! Love the black swan pages. BJ

~*~Patty S said...

Well you know you had me at SWAN ... so interesting to read your Black Swan post and learn some new things too E!
I must admit the first thing that always pops into my head when I hear BLACK SWAN is Jim Carey's over the top parody of the movie in his Saturday Night Live skit...that guy!!!
Already enjoying your newest altered book and excited to see more!
Stay cool my friend