In Praise of the Messed Up Mind
In Praise of the Messed Up Mind is an experimental project unleashed by the beautiful writing of Molly Prentiss. The book revolves around Synesthesia, this weirdly fascinating perceptual phenomenon that links one sensory pathway to another. This means, stimulating one’s sense will trigger another. Synesthesia, as described by my synesthetic friends (lucky them!) sounds like virtual reality sans goggles. I was mildly obsessed with it – just like Prentiss was.

So, I decided to design a book based on an article written by her at Electric Literature: In Praise of the Messed Up Mind: Synesthesia, Substances, and the World Anew and Askew

This project began as a class project at Washington University in St. Louis. The assignment was quite open-ended as the only requirement was to choose a piece of writing that we relate to and design a book based on it. Read about my book designing process here. This project was further refined over the summer.​​​​​​​
In Praise of the Messed Up Mind: Synesthesia,
Substances and the World Anew and Askew

Volume: 62 pages
Format: 5.5 × 9.5 in
Binding: Coptic, hand bound with a glued spine
Printing: Indigo on Mohawk ProPhoto
Font: Druk, Aktiv Grotesk, Lyon
The book is divided into six parts that are consistent with the chapter breaks in the original text, with each assigned a distinct color. Illustrations and typographic compositions are created based on the meaning and mood of keywords and quotes from each section. These illustrations were then elaborated to form the thematic basis for its section. For example: when Part II begins with words like altered state, skewed, mental freedom and unbridled, one can't help but think of delusional shapes, and perhaps a drunk man trying to walk the line. The wavy shapes thus became the thematic element for this part. These shapes were then elaborated on to become a "...large black sea" in Part II’s last spread as shown in the image above.

Chapter dividers were designed to communicate the concept of the ‘messed up mind’ interactively. Contrary to the reader's expectation, the correct orientation of text is in fact reflected on the dichroic film.
Scan the Spotify code above to access the book’s playlist. Song choices were based on my interviews with people who have synesthesia about songs that they feel best represent each section’s color.
Photography by Jingqi Fan

In Praise of the Messed Up Mind
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In Praise of the Messed Up Mind

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