Books As
Aesthetic Objects
A unique collection of contemporary
rare books The core of the original
gift to FAU in 1998

Sense 9

By Timothy C. Ely
1990

Artist book; sense 9; timothy c. ely, 1990(Click to view larger image)

Open Sense 9 by Timothy Ely, and you may wonder if you've discovered a rare artifact from some ancient civilization, one that communicated with a language long since dead. This private language that Ely has developed conveys a message that is beyond our reach, since we don't have the tools to crack the code. But the book definitely is scientific in nature: we can discern references to astronomy, and to physics, geometry and mathematics. There are maps plotting earth and sky, but overall, this is a familiar world that we do not understand.

The handwritten "text" is precise and delicate, as are the diagrams, all of which are rendered in pen and ink. Other elements in the book are handpainted or airbrushed, and there are collage elements scattered throughout. Even blank pages are not truly blank, but have a wash of paint, and the endsheets are handpainted, as well. The book is bound in painted boards in what Ely calls an Encrusted Binding, which incorporates found objects and various textures.

Sense 9 is a unique artists' book, though Ely also produces limited editions, many of which are held by the Jaffe Collection.