Paw Pad Path
Gracia Haby & Louise Jennison
Paw Pad Path
12 page, unique state, concertina artists' book, archival pigment print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag 308gsm, with covers mounted on black-trimmed board, housed in a linen Solander box with inlaid drawing on Fabriano Artistico 640gsm traditional white hot-press paper
Printed by Arten
Our long, folded snake of an artists' book, Paw Pad Path, was prompted by and shaped through chewing over, questioning, and confusing what it might feel like to be an animal, compiled and collaged from paintings which sometimes threw us off the scent. The space between our understanding of the world and how a fox (in a painting) sees the world is vast, but this is what we were thinking, dreaming, scratching, sniffing, living as we worked on this piece.
For us, walking through the white spore film of a painted landscape began with the visual yet for many animals their umwelt does not hinge upon this sense; it is olfactory or auditory, it is beyond our comprehension. Whether cantering, tunnelling, or sleeping on the wing, they have a larger sensory palette than we can imagine. We drew upon fragments found in digital archives, and constructed a forest leaf by wing from historical works out-of-copyright, and in a celebration of limitation, a porous pixel boundary emerged on the screen. Animals, commonly shown through a visual, human sense, revealed their forms. In a dense, if cultivated, wilderness, lifted from a painting, suspended as a cut-out: what is it like to be a guanaco or a fox? Using a painted palette younger than (humankinds) experience and buried within, pulling time from centuries past, a moveable orchestra on the monitor appeared, connecting not to cerebral memories but those of marrow.
Paw Pad Path pays no adherence to printed page peaks, and as such, the fox can travel the entire length of the book, the land, sniffing and hearing an impossible mix of flora and unexpected fauna. Originally painted from human awe, this is another animal entirely. This is the perception of another (artist) looking at a fox. Or is it? Scratching the surface, mixing up the scene, comprised from no less than 167 layers, we found that as Matsuo Basho (松尾 芭蕉, 1644–1694) wrote about the monkey, year by year, the animals’ mask reveals the animal. True, to the core, no matter which way spliced. Our (human) understanding is at the beginning, but this much is unvarnished: an animal is an animal is an animal.
Paw Pad Path was selected for the 2018 Libris Awards: Australian Artists' Book Prize exhibition at Artspace Mackay. The exhibition opened on Saturday the 26th of May and runs until Sunday the 19th of August, 2018.