4” Binding Unbound

In the spring of 2004, twelve graduate students and one university professor embarked upon a journey of creative exploration of Self, of knowledge construction, and of the book. Using art as a means to reflect on how our own understandings of Self are both informed and misinformed by many complex discourses in the world, such as history, politics, power, culture, worldviews, feminism, silences, and technology, we collaboratively created 4”Binding Unbound as a multidisciplinary dialogue. Though its form is a book, 4” Binding Unbound does not represent the fastidious declaration of knowledge typical of the written word, but rather symbolizes our epistemologies of ignorance. Pages with mirrors, doors, layers, and envelopes invite active participation on the part of the reader, while intentionally blank pages represent the absences of knowledge always present in culturally-shaped spaces. When we presented the initial pages of 4” Binding Unbound at “The Ethics and Epistemologies of Ignorance” conference at Penn State in March, 2004, we invited conference participants to contribute to the book’s collaborative, interactive, intertextual, intervisual dialogue in one of two ways: by creating their own pages to add to the book or by adding their own thoughts and perspectives to existing pages.

Participants who began the project include: Emily Baxter, Wei-Chung Chang, Chiu-Jhin Chen, Wan-Hsiang Chou, Ching-Yuan Hsia, David Karmann, Sarah MacKenzie, Ellen Key, Maryellen Murphy, Michelle Tillander, Marissa McClure Vollrath, and Steve Williams.

After the Penn State course (A ED 570: Artistic Creations and Theories of Knowing) concluded, several course participants decided to continue the 4” Binding project, and renamed it 4” Binding Unbound. The collaborative group facilitating this project is comprised of seven Penn State doctoral students, representing both the School of Visual Arts and the College of Education (Wei-Chung Chang, Chiu-Jhin Chen, Wan-Hsiang Chou, Ellen Key, Maryellen Murphy, Michelle Tillander, and Marissa McClure Vollrath); a recent Penn State graduate (Emily Baxter); and Dr. Karen Keifer-Boyd, associate professor of art education and women's studies at Penn State. Each member of this group contributes unique talents and interests to the collaborative project.

The responses that 4” Binding Unbound receives will contribute to our own understandings of epistemologies of ignorance, as well as to the personal understandings of all those who view it. Not only will the project travel in its physical form to many different institutions, but it will also be able to be viewed (and contributed to) in cyberspace. This aspect of the project imbues it with the potential to affect many more people.