julia mejnertsen

Filtering by Tag: photobook

how to flatten a mountain

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copenhagen, denmark

the project 'how to flatten a mountain' came about during the 10-day artist residency 'how to flatten a mountain' in enniscorthy, ireland (may 2016). 11 emerging photographers were invited by cowhouse studios and photoireland to investigate the irish countryside and the blackstairs mountain.

in my world, only God (or whatever you choose to call this force) can flatten a mountain, but in today's world, no doubt, man thinks he can. thus, the pictures take a humorist view on man's attempt to control nature. i use a mix of snapshots and still life photography, incorporating razzle dazzle camouflage, a kind of camouflage known from the battle ships in the first world war. this type of camouflage is not one of integrating with the surroundings but rather one of confusion.

my part of the project took form as a book, which will be exhibited at rathfarnham castle in dublin in july during photoireland festival. 

my participation in this residency was kindly supported by the danish arts foundation (statens kunstfond).

finishing up and shipping out

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copenhagen, denmark

the last month my life has revolved around finishing the 24 copies of my book 'tell me, how do you pronounce a hyphen?' it's been a lot of work, but fun, oh so much fun, at the same time. 

well, now they are finished and i've started shipping them out to all corners of the world - tokyo, melbourne, new york, brussels, siena, london and beyond. it's pretty cool to see my babies go find a new home. i hope they will be enjoyed out there.

a couple of facts about the materials used - all of which have come directly from japan. the book is inkjet printed on OK adonis rafu, 75 gram, color white from oji paper, the silver paper comes from takeo paper and the title page has been silk screened in japan by natsuki-san. the cover is made from 2 mm thick black card board. every book is hand glued with a spine that has its book binders spine mesh exposed, so that the pages behind the mesh are visible.

24 signed and numbered copies ladies and gentlemen. i'm keeping copy 24/24 for myself, as i expect it will be valuable one day :)

copies still available at the Tipi Photobook Shop

 

 

when the rains come (we will fear no more)

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copenhagen, denmark

dear all,

i've been neglecting you. i'm sorry!

after my last post in mid-october (!) i've returned to life in denmark. been busy with trying to figure out what to do next, but i have at the same time been working on a new project. well, new is perhaps an overstatement seeing that i've been working on it for 3-4 years, but it wasn't until recently that i realized that i needed to make it into a photobook.

hence, i signed up for an intensive 4.5 day bookmaking workshop with toscana photographic workshops (or tpw for short) taught by teun van der heijden and sandra van doelen of heijdens karwei. the workshop was limited to 4 participants, and seeing that there were two teachers and two assistents, it was pretty much a 1:1 situation. happy camper i was. the workshop took place in bologna in a room located in a private museum of sorts in the center of the city. we were surrounded by old italian paintings, which made for a beautiful bookmaking backdrop.

my project started off with the working title while we're waiting for the rain, but the book's final title is when the rains come (we will fear no more). first thing's first though, and the whole process started out with finding out exactly what is the story that i want to tell. i already knew that my story had the possibility to go in many directions, but i am not a photo journalist nor am i a reportage photographer, so going into the workshop i had a distinct feeling that i was looking towards a more poetic style (thanks to mette frandsen for helping me realize this). am i getting ahead of myself? - i think i am.

the story: my mother is a big game hunter; a passion that has evolved in later years, and the project “when the rains come (we will fear no more)” began, without being aware of it at the time, when she back in 2012 one day asked me, ‘do you want to go with me to zimbabwe to hunt?”

but what then is the focus of the story? - hunting, killing, my mum, girl power, poaching, animals, nature, africa? you see, many possibilities - and following all of them would make for a rather confused book. the project is not a project about big game hunting as such. it is above all a project about my mother and about finding oneself, about strong women challenging themselves and their boundaries, and about never stopping to grow as a person. i have seen my mother grow into a woman of tremendous format and courage, a person I can admire and see myself in. a real inspiration to me, being somebody, who still can’t figure out who I am or where I belong. i know that hunting is a sensitive subject, but my motive and story is not one of provocation, but one of love and admiration for strong women and role models. my point being, my mum is a strong woman, who has taught me to follow my passion. the second thing i wanted to make a point of with my story is the, from my point of view, misunderstood nature of hunting. people, who do not hunt, seem to think it is all about the kill. but it is so much more. it is just as much about becoming one with nature, understanding nature. what's the name of this plant? what's the name of this flower? what animal leaves this track? do you think those clouds indicate the rains will come soon? it is about passion, it's about challenging yourself, and it's about getting to know yourself, because when all material things are stripped away and your mental and physical boundaries are tested, you get to know yourself really well. and how do you put all of this love into a book of pictures? that's what teun helped me clarify during the workshop. a couple of pointers from teun on editing:

  • your editing depends on what your outcome is going to be - is it magazine, newspaper, exhibition, book?
  • a photobook is like a slow film (visual novel) - sequence, tension building, screen play
  • senses / form / feeling - 3d photobooks play with the senses
  • build narrative layers (this was an eye opener for me) - when you build layers into your book, you often get an extra layer for free. meaning that readers will deduce their own narrative layer, which you had not necessarily intended or thought of at the time your book was made. this for me is key, because i myself love the feeling of getting it, when reading a photobook. whether i actually get it or not doesn't matter in the end, as long as a book can conjure that feeling.
"the speed and rhythm of a photobook is faster than a textbook but slower than a film" - teun van der heijden

the process: first selection of images was made, sequencing. second selection of images was made, sequencing. indesign set up - size of book was decided (which can depend on publishing - see below). diary text was scanned and added as a graphic element, diary text was added in the back of the book. handwritten text with names of plants and flowers were added to pictures. french title page, title page, spine text (this is probably the most time consuming, complicated thing to do!!), and then of course one has to consider the number of signatures (=sections) the books needs. the size of the book and the number of signatures is where the maths come in. let's see:

a printing sheet in offset printing is normally 70x100 cm. that means you get 16 pages of 24x34cm (8 pages on recto, 8 pages on verso). then if you make your pages smaller within the size of 17x24cm), you can get 32 pages on one printing sheet. if your pages are even smaller than that, you get more pages on one printing sheet. hence, if you are to publish your book, it may be a good thing to keep in mind, as the price increases every time you have more printing sheets.

click on the image to see full size

however, i was not at this point going to a publisher to have it printed, but when you set up your files in indesign, you still have to be aware of your signatures, as they should be dividable with 8 for booklet printing purposes.

in the end, i came away with a first dummy of my book that i am very satisfied with. i love that it has a handmade, sort of rough feel to it. i hand-stitched the 7 signatures together (took me 2 hours) and then it was glued to make it more stable. lastly, the cover was added and the book was cut. you will understand the cover, when you look at the last picture in the book. i give all credit of this fantastic cover idea to teun :)

i hope you like it!

last of the best

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back in tokyo, japan

hi y'all.

it's been a while and i apologize. what has happened since last post over a month ago? many things. let's see...

  1. i had my exhibition 'highway 202 to karatsu' at studio kura.
  2. i left studio kura after a 2 month stay. what an amazing place, which i can highly recommend to anyone who need to get away from the hustle and bustle and stress of it all. i din't know i needed it, but i did. it was so relaxed that i managed to practice my headstand everyday... let's just say, i've gotten really good at standing on my head.
  3. my first ever attempt at a photobook 'tell me, how do you pronounce a hyphen?' was shortlisted for guatephoto 2015
  4. i travelled around japan for 2 weeks doing app. 3000 kms in train and visited nagasaki, kyoto, i had the biggest artistic experience in the chichu museum in naoshima, got drunk in takamatsu, hiked the ancient pilgrimage route kumano kodo through the kii mountains, sang karaoke in tokyo and rode the train 2.5 hours to kanazawa to see an art museum, which didn't live up to expectations (then went 2.5 hours back to tokyo on the same day). oh, i also had my second oyster ever in kanazawa - it was the biggest thing i ever saw, had to eat it in 3 bites and i didn't throw it up afterwards.. 

i have a hard time getting my head around having to leave japan in less than 2 weeks.. when i came back this summer for the second time this year, i didn't really have any expectations. actually, the whole thing didn't start out too well. it was scorching hot, and i was left to my own devices most of the time, but it just kept picking up and getting better and better. and poof, i'm head over heels in love with japan again. the high points of the last 2.5 months being the music festival sunset live in keya beach in itoshima, the harvest festival in a field close to the studio kura, riding my bike through the rice fields in the sun wind in hair in itoshima, being buried in hot sand in beppu, the kumano kodo hike, where we walked from takijiri-oji and 2 days later ended up in hongu after an 8 hour hike with no place to stay and finding the most amazing small vegan minshuku (called yamamizuki), which was just absolutely perfection, and lastly the amazing naoshima (the ferry ride and the chichu art museum in particular).

some pictures to illustrate the whole thing.


UPDATE on Tell me, how do you pronounce a hyphen?

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itoshima, fukuoka, japan

i'm included in an exhibition in tokyo in september at Reminders Photography Stronghold (RPS) along with the other participants, who joined the hand-made photobook workshop there in may. for that reason today i took some photographs of my latest - and best - dummy for the pr for the exhibition. 

if you're in tokyo, please find your way by RPS between september 5th-23rd and have a look, or follow RPS on facebook for updates. it is also through RPS that my finished hand-made photobook tell me, how do you pronounce a hyphen? will be sold, when it is (eventually) finished (expected early 2016). 

Tell me, how do you pronounce a hyphen?

  • Author and bookbinding: ©Julia Mejnertsen
  • Editorial coordination and Art direction: Jan Rosseel and Yumi Goto (in collaboration with Reminders Photography Stronghold 2015)
  • 83 pages
  • 65 pictures
  • app. A5 size 

tokyo series 'search for me in plain sight'

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tokyo, japan

a little more than one week into my residency and it is going great so far. i went location hunting last week in the middle of the night to find the best lit spots in tokyo. this week, i have my first round of shoots set up. just to recap i was anticipating several issue or potential problems i could experience with my photoshoots. however, there really has not been any so far.

  • no problem getting models - 3331 arts chiyoda sent out an open call for models on facebook and other social media, and it was answered. so many replied that they had to close it again within 10 minutes. what a wonderful surprise!
  • we've had no language problems - lana from 3331 is accompanying me on the shoots and translates for me, when needed.
  • no weather problems (yet) - i've been shooting monday and tuesday night this week, and there has been no rain. and now comes the tricky bit, because i wouldn't mind a rainy shot. so where's the bloody rain..

now i'm just hoping that the printing goes well, when the time comes. i still have a couple of shoots this week, but i think a have some good material thus far. 

on a personal note, i'm still floating on a cloud here. 

since my location scouting and shooting has been at night, i've had most days to do everyday things of course, but also just to hang out, read, drink coffee and do touristy things. i'm still in love with my new favorite coffee shop 'glitch', where they know me now, and we have a little chat, when i get my coffee. also i've taken up a habit of going to the family mart (convenience store), when i return home at dusk, before heading out to shoot later, hot and sweaty from the heat, getting a cold beer and sitting outside the store reading. it's a nice little square with green plants and cafés around, so jazz music is in the air. 

last week i went to the danish embassy to cast my vote for today's election. exciting although i'm not really a political person, the fact that danish women received the right to vote 100 years ago this year, convinced me to go. i've also been writing an article/guide to tokyo for the danish fashion magazine 'note', which i think will be featured in their august edition (if it is good enough). i'm still working on my book dummy on the side as well, so all in all time is still flying pretty fast. i really cannot believe that i go home in less than a month.

vote well now denmark, and talk soon.

p.s. please feel free to give me some feedback on my work below.

my corner coffee shop 'glitch'

my corner coffee shop 'glitch'

my new neighborhood jinbocho

my new neighborhood jinbocho

new neighborhood

new neighborhood

meiji jingu iris garden in bloom

meiji jingu iris garden in bloom

it's all in a name - choosing the title for my book

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tokyo, japan

i mentioned in a prior blog entry that i wanted to talk a little bit about my thoughts, as well as jan and yumi's input, on choosing a title for my book. back when the initial bookmaking discussion sessions started via skype with jan, before coming to japan, my book project had the working title 'gaijin' (which means foreigner in japanese). the reason being that i often feel like a foreigner in denmark in the sense of not really belonging. also, i thought the japanese characters for gaijin (外人) looked nifty. i was quickly told however that i should reconsider the title. i agreed to do that, although i didn't understand why initially. i still thought it was pretty catchy and would frame the story well.

when i came to tokyo however, i already had another title in mind. my new title came from the research i was told to do on the subject of expatriation / existential migration etc. i discovered another theoretical field called migratory aesthetics, where i took the new title from. the initial title 'gaijin', a word that has different meanings to foreigners and japanese people, and is japanese, thus incomprehensible to a lot of people in general, was thrown out.  the new title being 'Tell me, how do you pronounce a hyphen?'. On the first dummy i made, it was actually a little longer (Please tell me, how does one pronounce a hyphen anyway?). As you probably know a hyphen is a form of dash that is used to hold two words together, but also separate a word into two, when a line ends and a new begins. In danish the word is 'bindestreg', which more or less means a line that ties something together. i thought that that title worked well for my book, because it for one is symbolic of something being either held together or separated - if separated, it is done in order for a word to fit in on a line. it is a character merely used for appearances sake. so while you might think that the title is a little cryptic, you should really just take 2 minutes and carefully read and try to answer the question. think about what a hyphen is and what its usage is, and i think you have the answer and understand a little bit, what the book is about.

tell me or don't tell me

after having narrowed in on the title, we tried to hone in on the perfect form for the title. should it be one sentence, two sentences of even three? should i include the question mark or was it superfluous? should i take out the 'Tell me,'-part and just call it, 'How do you pronounce a hyphen?'

1) Tell me, how do you pronounce a hyphen?

2) Tell me,

    how do you pronounce a hyphen?

3) Tell me,

    how do you pronounce

    a hyphen? 

i decided on the second option. i think that 'Tell me,' is an important part of the title, as it makes it personal and more relatable - like a call out to the reader to help me find out. i also think that visually the second option looks best, and I could not think of any arguments for making three lines. So far, i have also decided on keeping the question mark, as leaving it out, would call for major questions as to why it is not there. At this stage i don't feel there are any good reasons to not include it. but i might not have thought it through all the way to the end yet, so it might change (but i don't think it will ;)).

these were just some of the thought-processes and discussions i've been through in the course of forming this book. as you might have noticed, every detail is thought through and nothing is left up to coincidence or chance. all of this contemplating about all the little details, have surprised me a little, but excited me at the same time. it is fun to do something wholeheartedly, where everything is considered, and you understand, why you choose one thing over the other. i am very happy that i now have a better understanding of the bookmaking process, it really appeals to the perfectionistic / detail-oriented side of me, and for once i have time to consider all the details and not rush, just because other things are demanding my attention. also, id i hadn't done this workshop, i would have made a photobook called 'gaijin', i am pretty happy that didn't happen.

finishing the workshop and my 6th, 7th AND 8th dummy

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before the last weekend of the workshop began, reminders photography stronghold were visited by the small french independent publishing house, chose commune. they were presenting their next project about the indian tale of ramayna, and it sounded tremendously exciting and was a very inspiring talk. i also got a chance to show them one of my earlier dummies during the evening, and while they didn't jump at the chance to publish it (but why?), they did have some valid feedback. they thought the black and white photographs worked well, there was a good flow, but the color images confused them a bit. they thought i should reconsider where and which color images to use, as it at times seemed a bit random, where they were placed. i noted their feedback and when jan came back for the last weekend's workshop, we also ended of throwing out more of the color images, as well as rearranging them slightly.

that was a couple of weeks ago, when we had the last weekend of the handmade photobook-making workshop. we were to finish up our dummies. that means more or less making as good a dummy as possible, before sunday evening. once again we had a very productive weekend, working from morning to night on our photobooks. the atmosphere in the gallery was fantastic and people worked long hours, getting coffee and icecream from the nearest 7-11 and going out for dinner. people were setting up their books in indesign, doing the last editing of images to include, and many of the participants at the workshop had also reached a stage, where their dummy needed binding. jan took us through a variation of binding methods - showing us some of the techniques explicitly, while others were presented in power point and through books already made. the techniques we were taught included saddle stitch binding, japanese stitch binding, and glue binding

as my book has japanese folded pages, it would be very complicated to do a stitch binding, so glue is really the best option for it. basically it comes down to keeping your pages very straight (you don't want to miss a page when putting on the glue), fasten the book, so the pages don't move and then apply the glue thinly - not a glue stick, but a cold glue. after the first layer of glue has been applied, you take some mesh fabric and apply it on the spine of the book, and put on another layer of glue. then you wait for it to dry and hope you've done well. the whole thing is not overly complicated, but it is difficult to get the pages 100% straight i have learned. although i tried my best the spine came out a little cooked, but i guess, like in any other field, practice makes perfect. my bound book dummy no. 7 is for instance already much better than no. 6 and no. 8 is better than no. 7. i have decided to leave the spine of my book exposed, hence the glued mesh is visible. you could also cover the spine with fabric or bookbinding tape, but i think that the naked spine speaks to the theme of the book. jan says that a meshed spine like that is unconventional, and that he likes it and so do i.

for the cover of my book, i decided on black thick 2 mm cardboard. this is attached to the book after the spine has been glued. the best way to do that is by glueing or using double-sided tape to stick the card board onto min. 200 g paper and then attach that thick paper - again with glue or double-sided tape - to the first page of the glued book. my book is app. A5 in size, but because some of the pages can unfold into A4-sized spreads, some of the pages stick out compared with the traditional japanese folded pages. with guidance from yumi, i have so far decided to let the pages that spread out into A4s not be covered by the black cardboard cover, so they essentially stick out from under the cover. this also makes sense for the story in the book, which is about not fitting in. again, nothing is done without reason. lastly, i want the cover to have a debossed hyphen on the front with glossy black finish. for now, i have settled with cutting out the hyphen in the cardboard, removing some of the layers of the cardboard to get the sunken effect and then inserting some black tape. i looks okay for the dummies. 

the 6th dummy i made during the final stretch of the workshop. it was my first manual glue binding, cover attachment and overall finish of the book, but the printing inside was not good, the paper was wrong and some of the images were even printed on copy paper, not the right sizes or placed wrong on the page. after the workshop finished i decided to do two more dummies that would be as close to the final version (for now) as possible. the title page of the book is a silver pager, which sort of has a mirror effect. i first tried to stamp the title and my name on the page. it almost worked. as long as i had the right ink (not all ink dries), but even the non drying ink was solved with spraying the page with hairspray, which makes it stick. all of this took a little bit of time, but while i was working on this, i decided to try and print the title page. that turned out to look even better than the stamp, so now all i had to do was print the title page. easy. no, not really. because the silver paper is coated with something to give it a shiny effect, it seems very few printers can print on it. the coating sort of melts and messes up the paper. i tried printing on different kinds of silver paper, i tried printing on different kinds of printers. different printing shops, but it only worked once. i got one decent looking title page. i still haven't solved this printing issue, but have been suggested to silk screen it. apparently it is really easy to do on your own..... perhaps, but when you've never done it before, everything is challenging. i'll get back to you on how that turns out.

last week i spent doing my latest two dummies, which have turned out okay. well enough to enter into competitions at least, so that's what's next for the photobook dummies for now. for the entire project i still need to figure out how to: deboss the hyphen on the cover as well as silk screen print the silver title page.

all in all the book making process so far has been phenomenal, but tiring at the same time. it is taking one step forward and two backwards with a lot of the creation. so far i'm (almost) satisfied with what i have, but it can get even better. and that is my aim.

over and out for now.