This book is a triptych opening to a sewn codex within the subject’s torso. It is a structure of display and intimacy. The scale is large and unfolding and the details are numerous and intricate, accurate and outlandish. The instruments on the outer panels are from the 19th- and 20th-century scientific catalogs. The rest of the images are drawings the artist made and transferred into photopolymer plate for letterpress. The scientific panels explore the miracle of our physicality and are sequenced beginning with atoms, moving to cells, and to genetic structure. The interior codex tells the story of the artist’s anatomical model and investigates the permeable borderline between material and immaterial in our bodies and life.
from the Colophon: “This book has been on my mind for quite some time. The project galvanized in the 3rd arrondissement of Paris at the Musée des Arts et Métiers where outlandish & ingenious works of science and industry are displayed. In the deep and meandering stacks of UC Berkeley’s Doe Library, I found late 19th-century and early 20th-century laboratory catalogs from Geneva, Berlin, London, and San Francisco; the scientific instruments are culled from these treasures.
Casey Gardner: “The subject of the book is an anatomical model as the source of inspiration to explore the science and mystery of life. I was living in a small Colorado town when I came across a female anatomical model in a scientific catalog. So beguiling was she with her 14 dissected parts that I eventually ordered her.
“That was nearly two decades ago and she has traveled with me from state to state, bookshelf to bookshelf. I’ve watched her in her various incarnations: breastplate and organs intact, or utterly exposed, viscera in disarray. She maintains a peculiar sangfroid, an enviable serenity as if she holds some transcendent secret despite her openness and accessibility.
“Making books is a means for me to explore something about the world and myself. I began by reading about her organs and how the body works; biology soon led to physics and I found myself catapulted into the cosmos. This book is about that journey and what I discovered.”
Abecedarian: This is a work that succeeds on every level: the text, both humorous and pithy, is engaging, the craft and material selection superb, the design and layout a balance of image, information and space.
The presentation is such that one is informed, enticed and amused before even getting to the ‘insides’ of the work – a corporeal codex, the inside story.
We read that the work was inspired by Torso Woman, a genuine anatomical model of serene evisceration. Mounted on the interior central panel, appropriately placed on a brush worked depiction of an armless, legless female, who does, however, have a head), wearing a stoic (or is it serene?) expression is an organically shaped book that includes overlapping shapes reminiscent of the human anatomy books of the fifties.
On the exterior of the central panel is a diagram depicting “How to approach something”, as well as Gardner’s dedication to many inspiring teachers, one in particular who made ‘learning an immense fantastical tale.’