posted by: Josef Beery
The terrible tentacles of the World Wide Web pry into every corner of our lives and steal away those random bits of life that used to brighten our days. In an effort to archive some of these threatened treats before they are devoured by Wikipedia and the recycling center’s book bin, the VABC has just published the Atlas of Vanishing Knowledge.
Sharpening their wood gouges, rubbing their tired eyes, and polishing their chipped finger nails, these artists used the ancient technologies of wood and linoleum cut, “pronto plate” lithography, hand composition of loose metal type, and photopolymer platemaking to print the over 150 pages of this amazing work. Totaling over 200 separate press forms (over 15,000 hand-cranked impressions!), this volume instantly joins its brothers and sisters on the shelves of the special collections libraries of the world. [Some erudite artists speculate that it is only in these sacred sepulchers that the dusty tomes known as “books” will survive the digital revolution.]
This article serves as a random sampling of some of the pages of this millennial reference work. But make note, the very small edition published by these artists included a few books set aside for sale to the general public to support the continuing work of the Virginia Arts of the Book Center. [The Atlas will be revealed to the public for the first time on November 9 at the VABC's Raucous Auction. At this time a few copies will be auctioned off to collectors and connoisseurs.]
The Atlas covers the broad field of threatened human knowledge, one chapter being “The Axis of Secret Diseases.” This sensational guide to the sufferings of our mortal coil includes indexes of the most purulent and chancroid. Articles cover the “universal pain assessment tool” and the impaired sense of wonder brought on by sea lice, urinary incontinence, Munchausen’s syndrome, hemorrhoids, and halitosis.
Other chapters address the endangered “Signs of the Times.” The cautionary banners and placards which in one era prevented the multitude of accidents to which humans are so susceptible. Now with the invention of the personal digital device (PDD) in the form of smart phones, reading tablets, etc, there is no need to waste resources on signs which merely muddle the landscape. Necessary information is provided to the needy via GPS and 4G technology. The increased incidence of craned necks and distorted digits (especially thumbs) directs us back to the reference material in chapter one of this book.
The Atlas continues with a chapter examining the “Tousled Clichés,” proverbs that challenge and cancel each other, some which would otherwise experience extinction as digital communication through Facebook replaces the once-cherished opportunity to impress through the one-on-one encounter.
The moon, the adventures of love, and the records of the particularly odious invasive species, the starling are well documented. (Did you know Shakespeare was involved?)
The Atlas would be incomplete without its amazing compilation of the “Vernacular of Venery.” This study of the Britannic intersection of natural history and dictionary will enhance the reference shelves we had all become dependent on for diatribes such as this.
Finally, a close examination of “Imaginary Body Parts” (complete with detailed wood engravings by artist Laura Pharis) reveals the location of the more mysterious bits of the human anatomy. A complete examination of the bird brain, the craw, the hollow leg, the bottom of the heart (courtesy of the autopsy of the treacle-souled Thomas Kinkade) is provided.
Many other chapters fill out this volume which must be examined in person to be fully appreciated.
This reviewer hopes the academic alchemy of these VABC artists will continue in the future as our culture attempts to capture for all time the threatened knowledge of our fragile existence.
Filed under: Announcements on October 19th, 2012