by E. Rettberg
imagery: Toward the beginning, trees are photographed in such a way that they generate a sense of faux abstraction.
turnings: Several turnings feature similar images with only slight differences, contributing to a sense of development and immersion.
development: As the book goes on, more artificial interventions in the look of the woods come in, including clearly boxed-off frames.
The book attempts to convey Douglas's sense, to paraphrase her introduction, of "a Wild Wood within us." The blurring of mental and emotional experience with the experience of nature in the book contributes to the captivating beauty of these strange photographs.
by J. Drucker
graphical: Most of the pages are designed as full bleeds, but quite a few also have a frame on them in color that picks up the tone dominant in the photographic imagery,and then the frames bleed. The effect is to emphasize formally the immersive blurring the book treats thematically.
openings: Many openings are full spreads that join across the gutter. Usually this is a recipe for disaster, but in this case, the book has been so carefully collated and bound that the two parts of the photograph actually join perfectly (or close enough). Making the openings into full spreads increases the immersive experience, even in so small a format, since it surrounds the optical field in a single visual wrapper.
The changing moods and shifting spiritual landscape registered by alterations in texture, color, tone, and photographic imagery in this book are subtle and elegant. Small in scale, the piece is large in its ambitions and accomplishments. By working in a handheld format, Douglas creates a combination of intimacy and extension. THe book draws the viewer in by its attractive size and color, the wonderfully evocative mood of the cover, with its split between light and shadow, foreground blur and middleground focus. That split echoes the gutter of the interior, even as it reinforces the thematic dialogues structured into the book and its visual text (spirit/place, presence/absence, light/dark, near/far, etc.) A whole set of ariculate dichotomies are used throughout this book so that the pages and elements talk to each other and to the viewer through their associations. The field of references set up internally -- branches, treeforms, light and dark trunks, silhouettes vs. detailed study -- all enter into a consistent vocabulary of elements in play. The result is a subtle, shifting field of associations and refinements across the visual landscape of a book space that is conceptual and photographically observed at the same time. For all its observational detail, the imagery is never literal, and in part, this is the result of Douglas's attention to coloration, and the emotional inflection that the tones add to the imagery.A break in the development comes with attention to the specific species of (mainly) flowering plants. These are presented in a collage of border frames (comprised of up-close details of the flowers) and the site photographs they surround. These introduce a pause, didactic in the best sense, that calls upon us to observe something in particular within the experience as a whole. The book finishes with images of the middle distance, sunlit, and absorbing. In spite of the absence of text, this is not a mute book, but a highly articulate one, establishing a nuanced language of its own through photo-graphical means structured in a codex as a field of complex commentary and intertextual visual play.
edition type: editioned
place: Deuchar Mill, Yarrow, Scotland
edition size: unknown
horizontal: 4 5/8 inches closed
vertical: 6 3/8 inches closed
binding: hand sewn (local)
general description: A small, hardcover volume with bright green covers and a colorful slipcase.
format: codex (AAT)
cover: "Wild Wood" in reddish-orange type, superimposed on a picture of a blurry fern.
pagination: unpaginated 148 unnumbered pages
reception history: Search www for a list of links, including one to a talk about this project by the artist, and various other comments, brief or longer, about the work.