Denise Bookwalter and Frank Giampietro. Spandrel. No 8 of an edition of 50.
(Tallahassee. FL: Small Craft Advisory Press. 2011). Sam Fleming Southern Civilization Collection.
Vanderbilt University Special Collections
Art historians know the term "spandrel" as the curved areas that connect an arch to a dome which gave Medieval artists the opportunity to add a decorative element to the interior. In a church, this was often the figure of a saint, angel or donor. Biologists use the term to describe characteristics that did not evolve through natural selection, but, like the architectural term, were created by necessity. They are a by-product that was later adapted for other use. Denise Bookwalter and Frank Giampietro's book of the same term uses laser cut letters to move the reader from one poem at the front of the book to another at the end. Because the letters are not ink but rather cut into the page, it is the shadow of the subsequent pages that makes the "text" legible. As the reader progresses through the book, the text becomes gibberish, slowly transforming to a second poem. The final poem lacks the shadowy depth of the early pages, and so is difficult to read. Are the artists associating the bridging nature of the middle text to a spandrel? There is no right answer to this question, but the use of the laser to create a negative space creates a transformative art work that allows each viewer to find his or her own meaning in the book.