Monday, 23 November 2015

A Dock is not a Solid Thing

Is it a toy? A book?
Well, possibly both, possibly more. For me, it is an design of profound and simple engineering.

A Dock is Not a Solid Thing is a Jacob's Ladder format of two tone card (blue / white), ribbon and a steel fastener, comprising seven poems on docks, boat building, maritime trade and lighthouses. The binding, a delicate and ingenious design, conveys the movement of water and precarious nature of maritime industries. If you have played with a ladder before, you'll know just how absorbing flicking them one way and then another is...

At least I find it so. It reminds me of the magic wallet my dad had: a folded leather wallet bound with straps of elastic. He'd place a pound note under the side with two straps, close the book, open it and the note had miraculously moved to the side with one strap. Over and over he'd close and reopen the wallet, over and over the note moved.

What was it that held my wonder? I can't answer for my child self, but as an adult I love not completely understanding how the straps move - even after I've made thirty of these things. Unlike my dad's wallet this has five panels and if you hold them vertically, they make a slow collapse and silent laddering down, each flipping over the next. The panels are hinged and unhinged as they move downwards. Like the moving pound note, it relies on an optical illusion that begs for clarification but never reveals it.

I think I must have played with a wooden once as a child too. When I let the panels fall I can hear the clack of them, even though they are silent. It is like holding a shell to my ear