Serendipity Woods: A book about running by Emi Yasaka


As part of a mark-making class taught by Benjamin Critton, students designed a book reflective of one of their past design projects. Emi Yasaka's book, Serendipity Woods, contextualizes an object she created for Deconstruction:Reconstruction, a class taught by Ayse Birsel in the fall semester. Emi identified flexibility, perseverance, and serenity as her strengths, and chose to express them as a movable screen of 4 laser-cut wood panels that can be configured into different shapes. In sympathy, the book is comprised of four chapters, each representing a panel with a story associated with the notion of serendipity. "Running has been a part of my life for a long time," remarks Emi, "and something that I really love so I chose to design a book of stories about runners whom I admire." Emi provides the following descriptions:

4-INTERSECTIONS_1
4-INTERSECTIONS_1

The four chapters of the book—Intersection, Maze, Field Lines, and Northwoods provide a visualization of runner’s journey, along with various photos taken by me and others found online. The first chapter, Intersection, is about Scott Jurek’s experience in the Badwater Ultramarathon, a grueling 135-mile race in Death Valley in mid-July where temperatures reach over 120°F. The intersecting lines represents his internal battle, or the turning point in the race.

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BRAINs_1

The second chapter is a story on Diane Van Deren, who suffers from epileptic seizures and had a lobectomy which disrupts her ability to judge the passing of time and sense of direction. In races, she often has no idea how long she has been running, or where she is going, due to the surgical side-effects. A part of the appeal of trail running for me is the maze-like experience—where I don’t exactly know where I am going. The winding lines visualize Diane’s story about overcoming her limitations, becoming one of the best ultramarathoners in the field.

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field-lines_open

The third chapter is an excerpt from Steve Friedman’s “After the Fall,” a story about Zola Budd, the former world record holder in the 5000m from South Africa. She is remembered for “inadvertently tripping American runner Mary Decker in the 3,000-meter final at the 1984 Olympic Games, in which both women were considered favorites.” The field lines—8 white lanes that form a capsule shape—is associated with competition, hard running, and speed workouts for runners. I started running in middle school, and have fond memories of running with my teammates on the track. Zola was a child prodigy and an extremely talented runner who didn’t always receive the recognition she deserved because of the unfortunate event at the Olympics and the political controversy surrounding South Africa. As Friedman stated in the article, “Her legend is simple, moving and incomplete—made of half-truths, exaggerations, and outright lies.” I wish more people had the chance to read about her side of story.

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redwoods_1

The book ends in the Northwoods, near Scott Jurek’s hometown of Duluth. The rugged hilly terrain and the harsh winter is a home to many gifted runners, including Scott and Olympian Kara Goucher. My original object has an intersecting pattern which is an abstraction of the woods where I love to run. The cover of the book has the same exact intersecting pattern I used for my screen. The subtle, laser-etched pattern on white shimmery paper reminds me of the Northwoods, covered with deep snows in the winter. The scenery is quite stunning and memorable. I really enjoyed this book-making process and how we contextualized the nature of the relationship between the object and the book by selecting writing, material, and visual patterns to work in harmony.

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IMG_2901