//F*%K IF I KNOW
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LEARNING TO "FLEX" YOUR FLEXAGON
"proof elluminates" is not your average book. it's a flexagon (technically a tri-hexaflexagon) which means that at any given time, you can only read two sides of the flexagon and the other side is hidden. "flexing" your flexagon to reveal the hidden side can be a little hard at first. that's why we made our "six-step pictorial guide" as well as a short video tutorial staring vida!
FROM VIDA'S HEARTMIND
"Proof Elluminates" was entirely experimentation with a person who is constantly reminding me that playing around is just as important as what you end up making. Ryan asked if I was willing to help create something for a series of projects he was working on. I had a bit of nerves, because he regularly is one of the most brilliant and creative souls I have been lucky enough to meet. I fumbled with trying to not “create perfection on the first go,” and Ryan gave me a format to just play. Boy, did I need a reminder!
The flexagon is an anomaly, like me! You get to play with each portion of it, and it transitions with each fold. You are left exploring the words that we put together, unfolding variations of cosmic notes. I could make some comparison to that being a symbol for life, but in all honesty it was a chance to make something with a person I care about, and to be silly. Sometimes, there is nothing more beautiful than simplicity, and the making of these flexagons was just that. A wonderful discovery-journey with a pal.
The words are all found in the pages of other sources, jumbled, ripped-up, and glued together. The images are used and created in the same way. For someone like me, I had to let go of structure, rules, and the idea of what poetry “should be.” I had the support of a wonderful human, who gave me the space to do with the flexagons as I chose. That’s just really...liberating, in the warmest fuzziest way possible.
All of the intricacies of the flexagons can be whatever you want or need it to be, and just a reminder to always play. Break the rules. Forget structure, because even the seeming lack of it can lead to quite the adventure.
FROM RYAN'S HEARTMIND
Vida and I met a couple years ago while working at an LGBTQ+ health center here in Phoenix. From day one, Vida's bright yellow motorcycle helmet and full-bodied laugh told me, "yes! we are gonna be friends!" While we were co-workers, we schemed up digital and printed materials for a statewide condom distribution program, and did a lot of chitchatting across the hall. Eventually we started running into each other outside of work at Palabras Bilingual Bookstore, the Phoenix Zine Fest, and other diy art/lit events. Our friendship was growing!
Fast forward a year or two. Now I was working at the library downtown doing youth services programming just across the park from the LGBTQ+ health center where Vida was still cranking away. Suddenly, while planning for an upcoming STEAM program, flexagons entered my life [thanks internet, and especially, thanks Vi Hart]. I went down the rabbit hole and was hooked. The next time I saw Vida, we met at a park bench and I gushed about flexagons. We decided to start working on one together for F*%K IF I KNOW: VOL. 3.
That very first day of flexa-scheming, we drove to an office supply store a couple miles away, fished some 11"x17" paper out of their recycling bin, and started a mock-up to determine the size of our flexagon. While we were working/playing, some kid named Javier came over and asked us what we were doing. We showed him some sample flexagons we'd made and he was entranced. When the adult he was with said it was time to go, Javier did everything he could to drag his feet while we made him a blank flexagon to decorate at home. If I had been doubting why we were making flexagons before, I stopped doubting now. Here was a blank piece of paper that we folded a few times and suddenly a middle-school-aged boy wanted to hang with two strangers to talk about writing and art and experimental book forms. Now that's my type of magic!
A few days later we began making the flexagon that became "Proof Elluminates." Like Vida said above, it was a collaborative improvisation. No rules. No structure. Just instincts, readjustments, and hands flitting between magazine scraps and glue sticks. It was a great way to talk, to create, to explore. Once we finished our collages, we went to a print/copy center where we unfurled our flexagon, scanned it, made prints, and assembled a proof copy. A few weeks later, just before Arizona issued its Covid-19 "stay at home" order, we met at Palabras to assemble our first batch of "Proof Elluminates" flexagons. Thanks to Jeff's questions and suggestions, we also decided to create the flexagon folding tutorials above. Here are some pics documenting the true treat that was [and still is] "Proof Elluminates." Thanks for joining us down the rabbit hole!