Earth was the first altered book I made that didn’t consist of turning the text block into hundreds of folded shapes as I had in Universe. It is made from another in the Life Nature Library series titled The Earth. The outer case is a shiho chitsu (Japanese four sided case) with a ribbon closure.
Much of the original book contained information about the geology of the planet earth, so I was inspired to do something a little different.
The contents of the box were dictated by experience: my brother had worked as a field geologist, and I had worked as a draughtsman for Geological Survey of Canada (GSC), producing small maps and illustrations based on field notebooks. In the 1960s and early 70s, certain things seemed to be common to all field geologists: they always had a rock hammer, a field notebook, and boxes of slides. The slides were mostly pictures of rocks, frequently with something else (rock hammer, field notebook) included for scale. Sometimes there would also be a slide showing the camp cook, an important person in the life of a field geologist.
All the field notebooks I had worked with at GSC had been full of squashed insects, usually a combination including — but not limited to — black flies and mosquitoes. I decided to focus on the mosquitoes as they were the most common, and laser printed dead and squashed mosquitoes on every page of the notebook I created from the text pages of the original book.
I always felt sorry for the guys in the field when I went through the pages covered in squashed bugs, but there was one particular notebook that made me even sadder.
It was the field notebook of a two-man team of geologists working along the edge of Hudson’s Bay in the summer of 1970, and it contained some unusually personal diary entries. One of the geologists had kept the diary while they huddled on a rocky outcrop above their camp. They were stranded without shelter for several days, taking turns on watch while a polar bear ate all their food and slept in their campsite.
They were eventually rescued by helicopter, but it must have been a singularly memorable experience.