I’ve been slow to blog about this piece, which was conceived several years ago, with the edition completed in 2010 under the Ravenpress imprint. It seems to me that the only way to manage saying all there is to say about Theia Mania is to write first about the project concept and origins. I’ll write about the design and fabrication of the components in another post.
Theia Mania is a multi-layered project, fed by inspiration and experiences rooted in my childhood. The working title of the early stages was Magnetic Attraction. It began with the intention to create a book with text, imagery, sound and smell. I wanted to generate content from a broader point of view than my own, so used contributions from friends and strangers alike, along with what drives much of my studio work; a longing to become familiar with experiences outside my own.
Theia Mania was a term used by ancient Greeks to describe the cauldron of emotions rooted in eros, romantic love, a passionate longing and desire. The phrase translates to divine madness or madness of the Gods. This project was inspired by and presents stories of contemporary connections in both audio and written form, including the story of my parents’ meeting, marrying and raising a family.
Unsure of what the final form would be, my longtime collaborative partner, Heidi Zednik, and I invited those who had felt the prick of one of these darts or arrows to tell their story. The request was very broad; we asked those who had ever been dumbstruck by the gaze or attention of another to participate. Whether or not the connection was mutual, whether it lasted merely moments or evolved into a long-term connection, we were interested in that first current of connection and the awareness that something momentous was taking place.
Of the dozens who expressed interest, only 12 individuals completed the process. Their stories were collected as audio files and are the basis for both the text and audio portions of this piece. Some called my home phone and told their story to a machine (which lent some interesting pops and beeps to the recording), others met either Heidi or I in person and we recorded their story on a digital recorder, some created their own digital recording and transmitted it to me electronically, and one anonymous individual sent an email with the request that I read it if it were chosen for selection. Although outside the original parameters for the project, I did include this story.
The stories were transcribed and edited by Heidi. The edited text versions are presented as poems, each coupled with photographs selected for this project. The audio tracks were used as the basis for a musical composition, written and performed by sound producer Scott Waknin with guest saxophonist Bill Janssen. Also on the CD are two full-length narratives; the story of my parents (mentioned above) and the story of Emily and Brit, whose story I heard when Emily visited my gallery to buy gifts for Brit. In neither case was it possible to record their versions so I wrote the narratives and had each read and recorded (Wayne Gilbert and Mare Travathan performed the readings).
The piece includes a woven binding structure based on a Claire van Vliet design, a small recipe book made with a piano hinge, a sachet of herbs with a love potion recipe, an accordion book in a round aluminum tin and an audio compact disk & wrapper. All are contained in a rectangular aluminum hinged tin that is held closed with a handprinted sleeve. Page imaging includes laser etching, color laser prints, color inkjet prints, black and white laser prints, paste papers, laser printed metal foil and relief printing. The main text is woven with tinted tyvek.
There are 35 signed and numbered copies of the entire set. An additional set of compact discs was created and gifted to each contributor. Those who contributed stories were also given an unbound copy of their story page.
You can watch a video about the piece on you tube.