Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Check out this Dumpster Fire

Here's a binding that's new to me, the “staplebound reversed gatefold," and god damn is this thing a hot mess.

Here is the only instance I am aware of of this thing: American Origami. What you do is you make a pretty wide landscape format book, and bind it on the right edge (the wrong edge), and then fold the whole damned thing in half, left side over right.

Page layout is actually four pages per "spread" with the outer two forming one spread and the inner two forming a second "secret" spread.

It looks kinda like a proper portrait format book, but only the front half is accessible in the normal codex fashion. As you open each spread codex-style, you have the option to heave the recto side up, to reveal the folded-under secret spread that is tucked into the back half of the book. This thing makes clay tablets look handy. Jörg Colberg, in his review, admits that he could not bear to look at the whole thing. The hidden spreads simply defeated him.

Colberg probably should have unfolded the damned thing, and read it as-printed, as a big landscape book with four "pages" to the spread. It's what I would do, if I have to review the thing. Set some bricks or the collected works of Edward Tufte on it to help flatten out that stupid giant fold.

I admire the boldness of printing across the gutter in this thing, the gutter not even being bound but just a sort of floppy open gap.

It strikes me that the artist, Andres Gonzalez, was at least twice betrayed here. First he's been betrayed by a system that assured him that this sort of bland photography, unlovable photographs of nothing, is a good idea for serious projects like mass shootings. Second he was betrayed by a design team that clearly wanted to try something out. Yeah, I'm sure there's some sort of metaphor here, the Byzantine binding symbolizes something or other, but it also renders the book inaccessible.

When your reviewers say "I could not actually read the goddamned thing" you've got a problem and, to be blunt, the problem should have been obvious from the first dummy.

It might work for a zine, something thin, I think. Maybe. Why it's better than just regular gatefolds I cannot imagine, though.


  1. whuuuuhh.... I kinda need to buy one... I cannot fathom it.[stone seal]

    1. sooo... I bought it, and I got it... Colberg must be made of stone, or not-not-not grok the American experience, is all I can say. I managed to crack open three photos of banal suburban lawns and bushes and look at what we've folded away inside and then I said to myself "oooh...craaap..." and foolishly folded open six more and started to cry, and had to stop. [well, I looked at the end of the book too, and that's a vicious indictment if I ever saw one and so ended up I could not sleep. Dammit.] I could not read the goddamn thing for a different reason, I guess. [stone seal]

    2. So...it works? I am astonished! But, that's a good thing, I think.

  2. Yikes! As you say, I could see that working on a few pages, but... The common-sense view is that 64 pages is the outer limit for a saddle-stitched (stapled) booklet, so something like 8 sheets, or fewer, folded like this? Common sense is rarely a consideration, though, when "designers" escape their chains...