Water, Calling is a collaborative artist book which explores the cyclical and omnipresent relationship of water and the self, inviting the reader to reflect upon water as more than a commodity, but rather as life giving: spirit, flesh and soul. Because water is evidence of all who came before us, it is a foretelling of all who will be; through it we are in conversation with our ancestors, our descendants, and with earth herself. Water, Calling traces these existential threads through waterscapes of text, image and sound, extending an invitation to enter more fully into a dialogue composed of acts requiring active listening, contemplative reading and deep seeing with the hope of inspiring sacred reciprocity.
Water, Calling consists of text, water patterns, letterpress printing and binding by Camden M. Richards, cyanotype prints, image transfers and watercolors by Deborah Sibony, and a soundtrack by Anne Hege.
The text throughout Water, Calling is a weaving of digitally printed scientific and historical facts with letterpress printed personal recollections and abstracted meditations on water. Richards writes:
We must find a way to unlock our waters. We need wild shorelines, healthy watersheds. We need to know, and honor, where our water comes from. We must find a way of participating that is more present, with perception and intimacy at the forefront of action. Biodiversity is expressed as an orchestra of wild voices; we must amplify the voices of wild earth that are too silent to hear, we must internalize the voice of water with our own. Through excavations of memory and experience, I seek to honor the transcendental value of water to life, and I hope to inspire readers to join me as witness, worshipper, student, friend and ultimately one with water, the life-blood of our earth.
The artwork in Water, Calling is a series of cyanotype prints of original photographs, image transfers sourced from historical maps, and watercolor art, inspired by the artist’s relationship with various western bodies of water—wild and managed, urban and rural—and how these relationships and bodies of water have evolved, over time. Sibony writes:
Water is a powerful force of nature, traveling many paths through our existence and often serving as a source for healing and renewal. I have lived alongside large bodies of water for most of my life; the ocean and the horizon have always been external spaces that not only influence my work as an artist, but consistently move me to places of profound thought and internal calm. For this book, I created artwork using the cyanotype process, image transfers and watercolors. The compositions throughout the work represent the deep connections we have to water, from the physical ways in which we perceive water, to the intellectual ways in which we attempt to understand, organize and control it. My hope is that the art initiates a visual journey that ultimately inspires respect for water’s delicate beauty and fierce power.
The music in Water, Calling is composed of water recordings, instrumentals and vocal incantations, providing an environmental soundscape upon which to absorb both word and image, thus immersing the reader in a full sensory experience. To listen to excerpts from the soundtrack, click here. To listen to the full soundtrack, click here (password required; request access here). Hege writes:
We understand water as an immersive experience. Our relationship to water is one that engages all of the senses. Whether it be “water” in utero, a bath, water we drink, the ocean we see, or the rain we hear, water is central to one’s lived experience. Inspired by this, a year of discussion about the project, and the text and images created by my collaborators, I used my hand-built, analog looping instrument, the tape machine, to create source material for large portions of the soundtrack. The tape machine imitates water cycles in the way that it records and plays back material, echoing itself. I then manipulated the source recordings to enhance the color and texture of the sound, and to elicit qualities of water—the way that it reflects and shimmers in light, its fluid weight and density, the way that sound moves through it and the way it filters harmonic frequencies. Using fragments of text from the book, the soundtrack weaves together discrete songs with recordings of water. Through this auditory exploration, the music transports the listener to a place of intention, enhances the collective experience of water, and creates the opportunity to engage in the interconnectedness of being.
By concentrating on the physical qualities of our natural environments, we can access a cognitive state that humans have honed over millennia: one that was instinctive to those long ago but that has largely become lost to us today. Water, Calling is our liquid prayer: a love letter to water through which we hope to re-engage ancestral environmental connectivity and mobilize others in the face of climate change toward perception, intimacy and action.
Water, Calling consists of text, water patterns, letterpress printing and binding by Camden M. Richards, cyanotype prints, image transfers and watercolors by Deborah Sibony, and a soundtrack by Anne Hege. Richards wrote, designed and letterpress printed the water patterns and text, set in New Caledonia and Magdallena, with a Vandercook 4 proofing press; digital text sections set in Ocean Sans printed by Coast Litho. Sibony created cyanotype prints from original photographs, image transfers utilizing historical maps, and watercolor art. Hege composed and recorded elements of the soundtrack on a hand-built, analog looping instrument and mixed the recordings with water sounds, instrumentals and vocal incantations. Water, Calling is printed on Rives BFK, Sekishu and Gmund Transparent, bound with a modified dragon scale structure in felt covers and accompanied by audio equipment housed in a custom box by John DeMerritt.
6 x 30 inches, 96 pp, boxed. Edition 15.
This book is held in the following collections:
University of California, Berkeley - Bancroft Library
This book has been included in the following exhibitions:
Pulp: Book & Paper Arts, an International Juried Exhibition at Sebastopol Center for the Arts, 2022
narrated video link
Reclamation: Artists' Books on the Environment, SF Center for the Book and SF Public Library, 2021