The images are a mirror of the everyday experiences of average Americans. Most of us live day-to-day not expecting disaster to strike us down. Our immediate concerns are with family, friends and co-workers and what will we do about supper? We do not see ourselves as players in a larger political narrative that is unfolding around us. It  is impossible for us to be apolitical because our participation in the culture of the American way of life is a political act. I tried to make images that described the social  everyday of Americans as they make their way through the work week. I did research into the events leading up to 9/11. I wanted to find out who was working in the towers and what the weather was like on September 10th. Out of respect for those who lost their lives I did not want to identify specific people but I did make an effort to construct the daily narrative around a specific place. My job in an office gave me scenarios that inspired what the working day would have been like in the offices of the twin towers. I even researched the computers that would have been in offices in 2001 for accuracy and imagined the rest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Second Printing- Japanese Gampi Paper

Limited Edition Created: FALL 2008
Medium: 99 wood engravings hand printed on Gampi Japanese archival paper and comes fully bound in a wooden protective box with built-in stand.
Book size:10.16 cm x 7.62cm
Edition size: 10 copies signed and numbered
Price: $2,500.00 CAN limited edition OUT OF PRINT

First Printing
Book size: 10.16 cm x 7.62cm
Edition size: 10 copies signed and numbered
Price: $2,500.00 CAN limited edition OUT OF PRINT

Book size: 5.5" X 8.75"(14cm x 22cm)
ISBN: 978-0-88984-335-6
Price: $19.95 Trade edition paperback
Price: $190.95 Trade edition Hard Cover

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What inspired the project?

I have had a long fascination with the picture narrative that stems from my childhood obsession with comic books and later the discovery of the wood engraved wordless narratives of Frans Masereel, Lynd Ward and Laurence Hyde.  The Book of Hours came about because I was interested in how certain events in culture change the direction a society is headed. Just as the sinking of the Titanic showed how technology is not invincible; the events of 9/11 changed our idea of how power operates in tandem with economic policies, notions of security and our faith in the concept of nationhood.


9/11  is difficult to rationalize and understand. The events around 9/11 represent the worst of our world. We can write volumes about the circumstances that led to this disaster and still we are perplexed by such hate that seems counter to the religious beliefs that some claim inspired it. For me the only way to explore the complexities of 9/11 is in a wordless narrative. The story becomes about symbol and sign and allows for multiple narratives to exist at once.

The picture narrative becomes the symbolic code for the reader to decipher when the traditional text is missing. This type of reading pictures is similar to the idea that Roland Barthes expressed in his essay The Third Meaning. Barthes describes a level of signifier that is beyond his categories of communication and symbol and reaches deeper into a “poetic” realm of meaning.  My wood-engraved narrative does not provide the reader with the whole story. Rather, it sketches the story through a visual sequence that relates closely to what one might experience in a dream.

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Method

Walker's medium is wood engraving, predominantly printed graphic novels that tell stories without dialogue. His works are influenced by the styles of Frans Masereel, Lynd Ward and Laurence Hyde, all of whom have produced wordless novels using wood engraving techniques. They are featured in his book Graphic Witness: Four Wordless Graphic Novels. 2010's Book of Hours pays tribute in a series of 99 engraved prints to those who lost their lives on 9-11.The images focus on the workers in the World Trade Center from September 10, 2001, until September 11 at 9:02 am (when the second plane hit). 2012's The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson tells in a series of 109 prints the story of the events surrounding the mysterious death of Canadian artist Tom Thomson. Walker's 2013 release The Life and Times of Conrad Black is 100 wood engravings that form a wordless biography of the imprisoned former newspaper tycoon Conrad Black.The story traces Black’s life from wayward being student at Upper Canada College through his career, felony conviction, imprisonment and ultimate final release. Walker also produced The Woodcut Artist's Handbook: Techniques and Tools for Relief Printmaking (now in its second printing), a textbook for artists learning woodcut and printmaking techniques. His most recent book is titled Written in Wood and is an anthology of 3 of his wordless narratives including the 9/11 story Book of Hours.

Above: One of the wood engravings on the Vandercook SP15 proof press ready for printing.

Illuminated manuscripts were definitely on my mind in the creation of my wordless story.

As you know a book of hours is a form of illuminated manuscript that was used as a devotional tome in the Middle Ages. A typical book of hours would contain a collection of religious texts, prayers and psalms and a calendar to follow. A timely devotional life that paid attention to the demands of a watchful God was an important aspect of 15th century life. How do we live a perfect life? What does it involve and how do we know if we are on the right path? Would be questions that the devote would be interested in knowing the answers to. All books have a sense of the sacred. Until you’ve read a book from cover to cover, it holds the promise of the sacred and the hope to reveal the unknown and make sense of our place in a complex world. This is the what the symbol of the book as an object holds for us and it is a truth today as it was centuries ago.

Today we follow a book of hours that is not written down. The cultural habits and norms of a society can be imbedded in the consumption of popular culture. Most North Americans follow a 9-5 job with an hour for lunch. Millions watch television religiously and follow all the popular media in the pursuit of entertainment, truth and meaning. Like the book of hours in the middle ages, the popular media provides a path to salvation known as the American Dream. It is open to interpretation whether the American Dream is the path or the salvation or both or neither.

A 9/11 Story

BOOK OF HOURS

A Tragic New York visual narrative told with 99 Wood Engravings. The Book of Hours takes us from September 10th 2001 until the morning of September 11th. We see the office workers as they go about an average day unaware of the history they will make and the life changing world that will follow. No words can describe the impact of such devastating transformation that day marks in our history. The world is now split into two timelines; the world before 911 and the world after.