Cloud Deck for Prospero
Cloud Deck for Prospero is conceived as a visual exploration of Shakespeare's cloud imagery, notions of the artist as a magician and reader of forms, and related themes of uncertainty, impermanency and chance.
This limited edition artist’s book uses a Jacob’s Ladder book structure to create a book of cards using letterpress on recycled/altered Encyclopedia Britannica pages (1910 edition, public domain). Complex surfaces of text and color were produced by dyeing paper, multiple press drops, erasure of text, digital transfer of scientific plates of the ten basic cloud types, and pressure prints with British manufactured reproductions of Tudor lace to trace cloud-like contours, line, and silhouette, all organized compositionally around a golden section grid. The back card linoblock prints reflect imagery adopted from British emblem book publications contemporaneous with Shakespeare’s writing.
Alluding to Renaissance Milanese tarocchi decks, the Cloud Deck presents a suit of ten cloud cards as a type of precious “magic” reference book imagined for the Milanese magus and deposed Duke, Prospero of The Tempest. This deck of ten cards is also conceived as a kind of visual string of ten “syllables” with a rhythmic unfolding enabled by a Jacob’s Ladder construction – an undulating poetic line. Ribbon used to connect the cards conveys iambic pentameter notation, a flash between of a crack of thunder, message, the lightning/current running between and connecting all the cards of the Cloud Deck – pointing to the artist’s role as both reader and creator/transmitter of signs.
Rhodri Lewis writes that Shakespeare "was drawn to the metaphorical potential of inconstant clouds" and that "in time he came to treat them as the emblem of a particular kind of mutability, one closely tied up with the transformative power of the poetic-artistic imagination.
Lewis, R. "Shakespeare's Clouds and the Image Made by Chance." Essays in Criticism 62.1 (2012): 1-24. Print.