Monday, October 26, 2009

How to Be an Explorer of the World by Keri Smith

How to Be an Explorer of the World: Portable Art Life Museum is filled with suggested activities for artists and everyday explorers of the world. Based on the idea that artists are essentially collectors, many of the activities include the gathering of items and then documenting the results or findings. Smith challenges the reader to set aside any preconceived notions or expectations and look at the world in many different ways.

I just knew I was going to like this book when I read the following on the back of the book:
To whoever has just picked up this book. If you find that you are unable to use your imagination, you should put this book back immediately. It is not for you. In this book you will be repeatedly asked to... suspend your disbelief, complete tasks that make you feel a bit strange, look at the world in ways that make you think differently, conduct experiments on a regular basis, and see inanimate objects as alive.

I didn't just like it, I adored it. It's unlike any other book I've ever come across. I've had it by my side for the last little while, thumbing through it when I had a spare few minutes. Every time I open it, something new jumps out at me. It starts with a fantastic introduction about how the book came about and also includes how to use the book, methods and tools for exploration, additional tips, how to get started and much more.

In addition to the activities, the book is also filled with wonderful thought-provoking quotes. Sometimes the quote is directly related to the activity it accompanies; other times the connection is a little more obscure.

The back of the book is filled with a variety of pages for documenting the activities as they progress or are completed. I'm not sure if I'm going to use these pages or come up with another method for tracking or displaying my finished projects. I have a few empty scrapbooks that would work, but I'd also love to have an online component.

A couple of examples of the activities:
Exploration #17: Instant Sculpture Consider that everything around you is a source for sculpture. Try making quick pieces using whatever you have around you in the moment.
Exploration #50: Found Smells Go for a walk. Make a list of all the smells in your neighborhood. Be as detailed as possible. Attempt to identify sources.

I'm not sure how to classify this book. It sort of looks like a children's book, but a very intelligent and sophisticated one. However, Chapters has is in the self-help section. Go figure. It would be perfect for the budding artist or anyone (young or old) with an active imagination.

I've always looked at things a little differently, taken photos of things that others pass by, picked up or kept things that others would throw away, noticed ordinary things and imagined other uses for everyday items. Generally, I've been curious about a lot of things that cross my path. For this, I've been labelled "weird". This book has given me the license to continue being me. ;) I was so smitten with this book, I immediately went out and purchased two of her other books: Wreck This Journal and This is Not a Book.

I'd like to thank Julie Wilson (aka The Book Madam) from Book Madam & Associates for this book. I won it from her fabulous Twitter contest. Go check her out!

For more information about this book, please visit Penguin's website.

For more information about the author or any of her other books, please visit Keri Smith's website. It's fantastic. Beware: I got information overload the first time I visited.

Highly recommended.

1 comment:

  1. This looks like a fun book. I am going to check it out.


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