07 June 2011

Whiteout-popup Quality of Life Report

Two months ago, I saw this post by Adam David (possibly NSFW) calling for blackout poem / "visual erasure" contributions. I thought it might be a good exercise for my popup buildings, as well as to maybe work out my love-hate relationship with the city while telling a story.

I missed the "Erase Erase" deadline, though, so I decided to just post the work here. Click on each thumbnail to enlarge (they're arranged in order from left to right, like a regular book; filenames are numbered if you're confused).

Just some notes, which you don't have to read.

It was harder than I thought, to pick something that was inexpensive even for Booksale (P45), had the right title, at first glance held the kinds of words I was seeking, and, most importantly, wouldn't feel like a huge loss once I started cutting out pages. Meghan Daum's "The Quality of Life Report" fit the bill more than anything else I saw (I ended up buying more than one book that day) because the blurb on the back made it sound like the kind of sweetly cheesy, "I'm Reed Fish"-type of story that I'd probably catch on Star Movies during off seasons.

This is probably blasphemy to any book-lover, but I didn't even read the book before cutting into it. The deadline was pretty close, and I haven't had a lot of time to read; the last thing I read, I finished last week but bought in late February. I did end up reading the cut pages, though, and I felt bad afterward. It did sound like an interesting and well-written story after all. So, if you ever read this, Ms. Daum, please accept my sincerest apologies, as well as a promise to buy your book if I ever see another copy in a local store. Your other book sounds interesting as well.

How I made it: I chose the words first, sliced out those pages, and sketched the buildings and skylines I wanted to put over/under them. The buildings themselves didn't take more than two or three hours to plot and cut for each spread, if you don't count the spreads discarded for wrong measurements or cuts. I used black crayon on the parts of the book page that would show up behind the buildings, then glued the pages onto the back while trying to get the words to line up with the windows before the glue* dried.

In the end, though, work and other things took up my time, and I finished the last spread just on Sunday. The photos and layout (if you can call it that) were done this morning after I woke up. I desaturated everything on my computer because my camera's white balance was acting funny.

The whole project was fun but also tiring in that I kept coming up against my own lack of imagination for these buildings. Now that I'm aware of it, though, I'll keep trying to come up with more interesting things in the future.

*Boring notes about glue: Elmer's white glue comes in the easiest bottle to work with, but God help you if your paper's not perfectly aligned when you stick it on; this stuff dries fast. Elmer's "school" blue glue gives you time to push the paper into place before it dries, but if you use too much, some parts of the paper will look permanently wet and dark. Locally made Sti-Kee (?) glue works the same way without the wet look, but the bottle is a pain to work with because some idiot thought a glue "spreader" next to the nozzle was a good idea, when really, it just gets in the way of everything. The glue's also so thick that it comes out of the bottle in globs instead of a neat line.


  1. Impressive, Kat. How long does it take you to finish making one?

  2. I am now a super fan! This is beautiful.

  3. @Lance: Thanks. :) It depends on how complicated the design is, but I'd say one to three hours to make all the measurements, cut, and then fold.

    @Tin: Thanks! :)

  4. Speaking of paper cuts, I remembered you when I chanced upon this blog: http://ollymosspapercuts.blogspot.com/