Two Books : Longer Looks

By Ellen Wiener

Our sense of boundaries, where and how we inhabit “place” is inevitably filtered through the trending intellectual constructs of our lifetimes — yet, perennially, the general “we” mistake these as being permanent truths. Both “Metes and Bounds” and “Neither” are artists books. They share questions on dissolving categories, perimeters, and edges and are informed by the pressure I personally feel from straddling huge notional continents that are actively drifting.

There is a giddy pleasure from the perspective of a 50 year career, gained simply by enduring. I get a seat on the balcony watching the messy birthing splendors of an intensely creative crop of adjustments, evolutions and discoveries. Atoms are pared to quarks and gluons while the old morphology of the plant kingdom has been rerouted (sorry!) to jibe with genetic similarities/ differences instead of visual cues. The fabric of moral culture frays alongside and I have spent a serious amount of time cultivating skills with which to illuminate the vibrant opportunities change demands.

Metes and Bounds

Metes and Bounds is a panoramic accordion book featuring a landscape populated with ‘gently-used’ ideas and legends regarding navigation and observation. The book itself, as an object, innately poses an essential paradox; it is intimate, pocket-sized — yet it opens to well over 100 inches, scrolling through both physical space and allusions to optical inventions spanning a thousand year history.

"Metes and Bounds" Artist's Book by Ellen Wiener

The book’s text insert commences:

“The title ‘Metes and Bounds’ is taken from an archaic legal term used to describe property perimeters based on natural landmarks. Because the tallest tree can be felled and creek beds waver, the ‘real’ of Real Estate is now measured by an imaginary net; flexible, efficient and huge — it covers the whole of the earth’s surface and beyond.”

Swipe horizontally, or use the blue scrollbar below, to explore the full landscape of Metes and Bounds.

"Metes and Bounds" Artist's Book by Ellen Wiener


Neither is a hybrid notebook that explores incidents of landscape with an emphasis on geology and botany. Rock formations and plant fossils, literally pressed together, are partners in archiving past climate, weather and atmosphere. Their coexistence as symbiotic neighbors function in ways we are just beginning to understand.During my botanical studies, I found that my detailed leaf drawings, seen close up, resembled nothing less than granite grain, shale beds or unfolded crystalline structures; pollen mimicked sand and formed chlorophyll mesas. Mirroring and inversions are elements in these compositions… they present an odd, even philosophical, marriage. This album, collaging mineral life with plant life is a ripped re-ordering of research, personal archive, and a wonderment log. True to its premise, the making methodology of the book joins hours of old-fashioned pencil work with a newer speedier digital medium.

Tap the image below to open the sketchbook.

Headshot of Ellen Wiener

Ellen Wiener is a visual artist whose primary subject matters are myth, landscape, literature and the expansive potentials of reading and looking. Influential sources include: Medieval Illuminations, 15th century engravings, Islamic carpets, science fiction, library ephemera, botanical illustrations and fossil and rock collecting. Her books, prints and paintings range from palm sized miniatures to room sized murals.

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