What’s in a Book ? - isbn 978-1-894897-25-9

What’s in a book ? and anyways, why are books so magical ? I've some thoughts on the matter and may at this point share them.

A book is a containment system for knowledge. Whether it be a clay tablet, scroll, codex or electronic application; a book is a compartmental unit of specific information. The information contained may be of any level of importance, everything and anything; understanding modern plumbing, instructions for burning witches, recipes for delicious cakes and pies, poetry, history, nonfiction, and fairy tales. Irregardless of relevance, form or content, engaging with a book is an act of revelation. Open up the covers, and we are in, experiencing the word, entertained, and enlightened.

This wise stuff aside, the book in codex form has another, more inappropriate function. It can be used to conceal an object. This old chestnut... take a big book in hard covers, one seldom opened, commonly the Bible. Open the book and cut holes in the pages , until you have created enough usable space, to hide something important. Place your secret object in the book, close the covers, and place the book on a bookshelf. Excellent! you have successfully hidden the goods in a manner no one will ever suspect.

Now that I've given you the background information, this is what you are looking at. A book, a medal, my latest publication: The Robert Reid Medal, to be precise. The medal was commissioned by the Alcuin Society and named after Robert Reid, a pioneer in Canadian book design. Presented nationally, the Robert Reid Medal celebrates lifetime achievement in book creation. The design was carved by my hand then cast in bronze at the studio of my colleague Jess Sarber. After the medals were cast, each one was hand finished by me. This work was completed in an edition of 25 with 5 artists proofs.

Regarding the revelatory and concealing power of books, it seemed most fitting, to encase each medal in this manner. Within this context the medal becomes a dimensional illustration, and since I've taken to publication as an act of contemporary art, it would be reasonable to assign an ISBN to this project. The book itself consists of an essay written by Yosef Wosk, regarding the value of a life spent in creation. The typography was designed electronically, burned into polymer plates, then printed and bound at Black Stone Press. A purpose built and published work to simultaneously protect and reveal a lifetime of excellence.

photo credit: Peter Lattimer

robertchaplin (at) lightspeed (dot) ca
Copy Cats are Dirty Rats


Anonymous said...

All is forgiven!
The wait has been worth
our pain as we suffered
through your blogging dearth.

Your namesake creation
with ISBN
confirms your great talent.
There's rejoicing again!! :)

Heather said...

Wow, Rob, Beautiful!

You'll be so proud of me as I am currently in the process of getting something printed (& perhaps I shall even assign it an isbn)!!

Miss your class!

Robert Chaplin rca said...

if you are going to the expense of printing. You had better get an isbn, and file with the legal deposit of the national library. it is your social responsibility and your legal obligation as a publisher :)

Anonymous said...

I just found out come July you'll be inhabiting Parking Spot!!!
That's sweet!
What a treat!
Might come seeit :)
If there's time
We can rhyme...

Robert Chaplin rca said...

we can rhyme anytime
it isn't a crime

Anonymous said...

That's true.
How'd you
get so smart?

Word verification: driziness = what a Vancouverite feels after a solid week of rain.

Robert Chaplin rca said...


it's a beautiful word did you coin it yourself ?

Anonymous said...

It inspires, doesn't it? Glad you think so. Sadly, no credit to me beyond the invented definition - thank the automated word verification for coming up with such succulence. (But, should you ever use it in your writings, I'll caress the sweet secrecy of knowing it was born here.)

Robert Chaplin rca said...

I might try spelling it with two z's in order to keep the first i short.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely. Rolls off the tongue and eyes easier that way...