The Assignment


Elisabeth Long
Chicago, IL
The Sign of the Owl Press

Title: Euclid’s Clinic and Day Spa

Number of Copies in Edition: 10
Size: 6x6x6 inches
Number of Pages: 10

Medium: Letterpress printed using hand-set type, polymer plates, magnesium plates, and linoleum cut.

Price: $350

To purchase, please contact Laura at 23 Sandy Gallery.

The Assignment

The assignment, for a Letterpress I class taught by Audrey Niffenegger, was entitled "The Imaginary Restaurant."  The rules included a set of required printing methods as well as a list of thematic elements that were to be included.

The imaginary restaurant was to have a maitre d', 2 diners, a waiter, plates and utensils, an a menu. We were encouraged to not take the theme and elements too literally, but rather to simply think of a restaurant as a place where one goes to enjoy being physically satiated and taken care of. Printing methods were to include at least 5 of the following: hand-set type, polymer plate, woodcut, magnesium plate, linoleum cut, and pressure printing.

Artist Statement

Two things came to mind when thinking about a place that brings one pleasure—one physical: a spa, and the other mental: Euclidean mathematics. I've always found reading Euclid brings about a great sense of calm—something about its integration of visual intuition and rational progression into a internally coherent and complete system.

So taking those two thoughts as a jumping off point, I conceived of a day spa for Euclidean figures. The geometric figures progress through the spa where they are first given a menu of treatments to choose from and a questionnaire to fill out, are then measured and defined, and finally given their 'therapies' drawn from Book I of Euclid's Elements.

The book uses humor to highlight the serious issues raised in Euclid's geometry: what constitutes equality, how does identity persist in the face of change, how can objects relate to one another, etc. The transposition of mathematical operations into human activities provides a metaphor for our own self-analytical concerns.

In keeping with its subject matter, the book takes the form of a cube (bridging the gap between the two-dimensional world of Euclid's Book I and the three-dimensional world of his subsequent volumes.) The sides are held together with metal rods so that it can act as a self-analyzing structure in which the cube can be opened up and transformed into its flat, two-dimensional, constituent parts.


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