Terrance Keenan

The Blue Cliff Record

The Blue Cliff Record, or the Hekiganroku, is one of the great collections
of koans.  It has been used as a teaching tool for students of Zen
Buddhism for a thousand years.  Its one hundred koans were originally
compiled by Setcho (980 -1052), a poet and scholar, in early eleventh
century China.  This present book is an iconoclastic version of
The Blue Cliff Record, a book that was in its time also deeply iconoclastic.
It contains all the original koans but with fresh variations on the introductory statements
and commentary.  It is also, I believe, the first time since its creation that the book
has ever been fully illuminated.

In the ancient tradition of those early Irish monks. I have chosen to illuminate what cannot be illumined with a piece of artwork to accompany each case in the collection.
I choose the word "illuminate" deliberately.  In part to  mirror the work of those
monks laboring to illuminate, to bring visible brightness of a visual and oral culture
to the page of manuscripts in scriptoria lit only by the light of day, and in part
to distinguish the work from mere illustration, which only goes one way and is
either a visual description of the text or a way of telling one how one
should respond to the text.  Illumination goes both ways; outwardly showing the
way we must travel, and inwardly, clarifying who we are taking these steps
towards clarity.  But we are taking these steps alone.

This is an artist's book, that is, not a book containing pictures art, but a work
of art itself, using the book form as a medium.  This artist's book is in six copies.

Here is the colophon to explain the technical side:
(See transcription at the bottom of this page).

Blue Cliff Colophon

Scroll down to view The Blue Cliff Record

Blue Cliff Cover

Blue Cliff Box

Blue Cliff 3

Blue Cliff 4

Blue Cliff 5

Blue Cliff 6

Blue Cliff 7

Blue Cliff 8

Blue Cliff 9

Blue Cliff 10

Blue Cliff 11

Written and designed by the author between 2014 and 2017 in an edition of six hand-made copies.
Original photographs and artwork are by the author, with art in various media, including oils, watercolor
and ink, or spray paint on a variety of grounds, including canvas, paper and Tyvek®.  Endpapers are
handmade Japanese mulberry paper. The artwork was photographed using a Sony a6500 Mirrorless
camera with a Nikon Micro-Nikkor 55mm lens, and printed by an Epson Surecolor p800 Printer to produce
the giclée prints on Japanese archival Pictorico Pro Art Cotton paper.  Printed on Conqueror laid paper,
the text is Gill Sans, honoring Eric Gill’s iconoclastic spiritual art and design. Covers of Irish white oak
veneer are designed and created by the author with locally collected elements reflecting Muintir Bháire:
sea glass, shells, stones, bark and roots, old iron from farm implements, and copper honoring
the era of mining.

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All photographs and illustrations remain copyright of the artists and may not be reproduced in any form without permission