Paris is called the City of Lights... La Ville-Lumière. In the 1800's it was one of the first cities in the world to install gas street lights. Fifty-six thousand gas lamps lit the streets of Paris in 1860! At that time, that was more than anywhere in the world.
Still, the landscape of Paris is only the backdrop of the illumination of this beautiful city... Dating back to the late 17th-century, Paris has had a great part in the cultural change known as the Age of Enlightenment. It was during a stay in Paris in 1622 that Rene Decartes (founder of analytical geometry) wrote his first essay on method: Regulae ad Directionem Ingenii (Rules for the Direction of the Mind). The most famous Parisian of the Enlightened Age was probably Voltaire, the writer, philosopher, and historian. An entire set of volumes could be written on the brilliant Voltaire... who's real name was François-Marie Arouet. Actually, an entire volume could be written on his pen names... Voltaire was said to have used over 175 pen names!
Paris can be just as mercurial. The history books, novels, whispered back room intrigues, and center stage flamboyance tell its captivating story over and over again in a thousand different voices. This week's book-of-the-week, Gates of Paris is based on the impression of all those voices... whispered to this Paris visitor... standing on the Pont des Arts on a warm September night a decade ago.
|a road map of the City of Lights...|
The book is fabricated with the swinging hinge structure, developed by Hedi Kyle and based on an accordion folded spine. The book materials consist of vintage maps from a 1954 Michelin® Tour Guide of Paris, a monoprint on Mohawk® cover paper, French® paper, pastepaper, silk brocade book cloth, and photographs taken off the pedestrian bridge, Pont des Arts, in Paris...
|a row of gates swing back and forth...|
When viewed from the front side, the swinging panels depict sections of a map of central Paris. The streets... angular yet sinuous, seem to switch back and forth in a prism of light and form, just as the book panels' swinging alters the view of the pages. The map serves as backdrop for the short poem, Gates of Paris, which was letterpress printed on the Pearl press. Black ink and a flowery font, Crayonette, were used. These relate to the ornate ironwork of the mid to late 1800's when Paris was rebuilt by Napoleon III and his Prefect of the Seine Department, Georges-Eugène Haussmann... who put in all those gas street lamps.
|pastepaper and monoprint... of a rich and vibrant Paris|
|the photograph.... a night on the Pont des Arts|
|the River Seine cuts through and bridges lace it's span|
This is the poem...
Sprawled across the
Pont des Arts
Sipping red wine
and gazing at the stars
Across the rooftops
the Eiffel Tower
twinkles in the night
And the gates
Open your mind
|a silk brocade...|
|the lights off the bridge...|
Gates of Paris, continues the theme of France... but really, the ideas and impressions can be applied to any place one finds fascinating.