Bookmark on Reading “Actual Books”

The seasonal flu among expositors of the future of the book and the future of reading is upon us. No sooner does one town cryer sneeze about the latest reading device or software than a town de-cryer follows heralding the superiority of reading print – or vice versa.

Sure enough, here is the Guardian today: “Whisper it quietly, the book is back … and here’s the man leading the revival“. That would be James Daunt, CEO of the UK bookstore chain Waterstone’s, who has used a Russian oligarch’s money to bring the chain to breakeven.

And without a hint of irony, here’s the online-only .Mic demonstrating that variant strains can cross generations and oceans as well as media: “Science Has Great News for People Who Read Actual Books“.  That would be the oft-repeated Norwegian study of two groups of 10th graders, one of which – the print readers – comprehends and retains more than its ebook-reading counterpart.

There are plenty of days remaining before the year’s close for the digital riposte surely on its way to envelop us.  In the meantime, here is a combined and fortified reading list from Christmas bloggings past:

Reading List

Association for Psychological Science (2010, August 30).  Eye movements reveal readers’ wandering minds.  ScienceDaily. Accessed September 8, 2012.

Bookmark for “A Brief History of Reading” (and a Revisit of “The Future of Reading?”). BooksOnBooks. Posted February 13, 2013.

British Association for the Advancement of Science (2007, September 11). Reading Process Is Surprisingly Different Than Previously Thought, Technology Shows. ScienceDaily. Accessed September 8, 2012.

Dehaene, Stanislas. Reading in the Brain. New York: Viking, 2009.

Florida State University (2012, February 14). How Do Children Learn to Read Silently?. ScienceDaily. Accessed September 8, 2012.

Hill, Bill. The Magic of Reading. 1999.

Jabr, Ferris. The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus ScreensScientific American. April 11, 2013.  Accessed 14 April 2013:

Kozlowski, Michael. Amazon Unleashes Immersion Reading and Whispersync for Voice. GoodEReader. Accessed September 8, 2012.

Mangen, Anne, et al. Reading linear texts on paper versus computer screen: Effects on reading comprehension. International Journal of Educational Research. 58 (2013) 61-68.

Mangen, Anne, et al. Evolution of reading in the age of digitisationISCH COST Action IS1404. Updated May 6, 2014. Accessed December 14, 2014.

Mangen, Anne, and Velay, Jean-Luc. Cognitive implications of new media. The Johns Hopkins Guide to Digital Media. Edited by Marie-Laure Ryan, Lori Emerson and Benjamin J. Robertson. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014.

O’Callaghan, Tiffany. Reading on screens is different – does it matter? New Scientist. October 30, 2014.

Rollins, H.A. Jr., Hendricks, R.  Processing of words presented simultaneously to eye and ear.  J. Exp. Psychol. Hum. Percept. Perform. 1980 Feb; 6(1): 99-109. Accessed September 8, 2012.

Vinall-Cox, JoanMoving From Paper to E-Book Reading.  eLearn Magazine. March 2012.  Accessed September 8, 2012.

Walker Reading Technologies, Inc. LiveInk® (four papers:  jaltcalljournal, National Educational Computing Conference, Reading Online and IEEE International Professional Computing Conference).

 

 

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Bookmarking Book Art – The Mystery Book Artist of Edinburgh & the Trick of the Light Theatre

Drawing to its close, does 2014 have any more treats or presents to bestow beyond the return of the Mystery Book Artist of Edinburgh and the debut of “The Bookbinder” from New Zealand’s Trick of the Light Theatre?

The MBAE has donated a new sculpture — a fantastical paper replica of the 16th century merchant’s house known as Riddles Court set behind the Royal Mile — in support of its renovation as home to the Patrick Geddes Centre for Learning and Conservation.  The name of the building and that of the center could not be more appropriate.  This is the 12th gift to Edinburgh’s literary establishment from the artist whose identity remains a mystery.  As well, Geddes featured in the MBAE’s very first gift in 2011 to the Scottish Poetry Library, whose slogan “By leaves we live” originated with Geddes:

6f8915be82f058c2e4b8868455bedb6fread the source poem here). A regular but still anonymous frequenter of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, the MBAE posted this video
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dd7112103e7cfcd76cb2325a8efc8c5cof the Riddles Court sculpture in progress, echoing serendipitously “The Bookbinder”, a performance piece on the other side and bottom half of the globe by Trick of the Light Theatre this year.

The Bookbinder Copyright 2014 Trick of the Light Theatre

The Bookbinder
Copyright 2014 Trick of the Light Theatre

Written and performed by Ralph McCubbin Howell, directed by Hannah Smith, with music by Tane Upjohn Beatson, “The Bookbinder” incorporates book sculpture as pop-up book theater and was first performed at Arty Bees Bookshop during the New Zealand Fringe Festival 2014.

What a pleasure and gift that would be to find the MBAE and “The Bookbinder” in a common festival. If holiday wish lists are allowed, let’s add to it Moonbot Studios, home of The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.

Morris Lessmore

Copyright 2011 Moonbot Studios

 

 

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Bookmarking Book Art – “I placed a jar in Tennessee,/ …”

cropped-bookartsHollie Berry has two brief posts on book art at Book Arts at The Open Press (BA@TOP), a supportive community of book artists in Chattanooga, Tennessee, for whom The Open Press provides access to printmaking, book arts, and letterpress classes, workshops and equipment. Her first post offers as examples of the breadth of book art: Dan EssigSandy WebsterBrian Dettmer and Maddy Rosenberg. A good start, if light on installation book artists (say Alicia Martín).

The Open Press is 225 miles from Elizabethton, TN, where Wallace Stevens wrote “Anecdote of the Jar” in 1918 and which is only 67 miles from Asheville Bookworks in West Asheville, NC, where Landon Godfrey hosts Vandercooked Poetry Nights dispatching listeners into the mountain air clutching poems printed on broadsheets from the resident Vandercook Press, on which the authority Paul Moxon lectured in March this year at The Open Press, 199 miles away by the backroads across the Appalachians.  …”And round it was, upon a hill.”

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Bookmark – Margins and making objects that live forever

Craig Mod modulates on margins here in Medium (18 August 2014).

Text printed on the best paper with no margins or unbalanced margins is vile. Or, if we’re being empathetic, sad. (For no book begins life aspiring to bad margins.) I know that sounds harsh. But a book with poorly set margins is as useful as a hammer with a one inch handle. Sure, you can pound nails, but it ain’t fun. A book with crass margins will never make a reader comfortable. Such a book feels cramped, claustrophobic. It doesn’t draw you in, certainly doesn’t make you want to spend time with the text….

On the other hand, cheap, rough paper with a beautifully set textblock hanging just so on the page makes those in the know, smile (and those who don’t, feel welcome). It says: We may not have had the money to print on better paper, but man, we give a shit. Giving a shit does not require capital, simply attention and humility and diligence. Giving a shit is the best feeling you can imbue craft with. Giving a shit in book design manifests in many ways, but it manifests perhaps most in the margins.

Reiterating his point by analogy, Mod channels the late designer George Nakashima:  “in order to produce a fine piece of furniture, the spirit of the tree must live on. You give it a second life … You can make an object that lives forever, if used properly.

For the fundamentals underlying Mod’s scatologically and poetically emphatic truth, you cannot find much better than Alexander Ross Charchar’s essay on the craft and calculations of “page canons” by Villard de Honnecourt (13th century!) , J.A. Van de Graaf, Raúl Rosarivo and Jan Tschichold:  “The Secret Law of Page Harmony“. Most delightful is Charchar’s dynamic diagram “The Dance of the Four Canons” illustrating the workings of each page canon:

Copyright 2010, Alexander Ross Charchar.

The Further Reading suggested by Charchar and his commenters is excellent, and I would only add Marshall Lee’s Bookmaking. For those who are irritated with the imposition of the print paradigm on the digital reading experience, there is a useful pointer to applying the page canons to website design that will cause a rethink of that irritation and equally make the imposers think harder as well.

For those who care about the book, what it is evolving into and the role that heart, mind and design still play in that process, read Charchar’s”The Secret Law of Page Harmony” –again and again.

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Bookmarking Book Art – Metamorphosis and the MBAE

The Mystery Book Artist of Edinburgh has emerged again – this time from a chrysalis in a cloud of butterflies. The work shown will be auctioned for the benefit of Macmillan Cancer. The Macmillan Art Show will be opened this month by the mystery author Alexander McCall Smith: http://macmillanartshow.org/.

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Bookmarking Book Art — Francisca Prieto

Trained at Central St Martins, Francisca Prieto is a Chilean artist living and working in London where her work has featured in collections at the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Tate Gallery and the British Library among others. From 29 May through 21 June, her solo exhibition Underlined runs at Jagged Art, off Marylebone High Street in London.

Underlined extends — or rather deepens — her series Between Folds, which according to her artist’s statement “explores pages of rare and damaged books or forgotten ephemera, emphasising the beauty and detail of print that would otherwise go unseen.” Prieto’s grounding in typographical design drives Between Folds as is obvious from the letters created from the pages of Grays Anatomy and Bartlett’s British Scenery.Between Folds - Anatomy - Letter M

Between Folds - British Scenery - Letter O

 

Detail of Between Folds/Anatomy

Detail of Between Folds/Anatomy

The precision of the folds in Prieto’s work becomes even more evident in the eight compositions of Underlined, which is fitting as she now delves through source material past the letterforms and down to the line. Look how the folds align and intersect with the lines of the source material in the detail below.

Detail - Composition No. 1 © Francisca Prieto, 2014

Detail – Composition No. 1: A Diagonal Line
© Francisca Prieto, 2014

The source material in this case is The Wanderers Cricket Club Logbook, whose red lines strike vertically down the diagonal, the folds of the work “playing with direction and motion, as the ball of the game dictated each log of play”.  Prieto’s art is not only playful but thought-provoking, the cause of a sudden intake of breath from delight or even shock — what we most seek in our experiences of art. Do you not draw in your breath as you read between the folds and past the title and shape of Composition No. 2: One Horizontal Line to see that it is the line drawn under the life from whose last will and testament Prieto has created this work?

This dialogue between the parts and the whole to which Prieto’s craft and vision continuously draw the eye, heart and mind elevate her work and its audience.

Additional commentary on her work can be found at www.blankproject.co.uk.

 

 

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Bookmarking Book Art – Abigail Thomas

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Micro-Pages, a book arts exhibition curated by Abigail Thomas, toured throughout the UK in 2009 & 2010.

As a participating artist as well as being the curator and project instigator, and having worked in a library/archive for several years, I wanted to explore issues that affect libraries and archives as well as the book art world. Books have it in their nature to be handled; they are intimate objects whose feeling, texture, weight and smell are part of their artistic aura. Glass cases can remove the experience of the work, and you are unable to see it in its entirety, however, having books out also has its disadvantages. Should we treat artists’ books as archival material? This is the point that the project starts from. From the artist’s website.

The form of this exhibition also reflected Thomas’s concern with the book as machine, or reading machine. With microfilm, the reader is cast back into the age of scrolls and paginae, forerunners to the pages of the codex, yet is also suspended between the print codex and and arrival at what Thomas might agree is “an” imagined future escape from the page into the scrolling web.

Only “an” because Reading the Imagined Escape from the Page is Thomas’s live reading event, consisting of a projection, a leaflet/bookwork/handout and her lecture-style commentary. First delivered at the Arnolfini, Bristol in April 2013, the performance echoed and extended Micro-Pages in its collage/collision of visual projection, paper and screen.

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Another instance of an imagined escape from the page can be explored in Thomas’s essay “Bob Brown’s Reading Machine and the Imagined Escape from the Page”published in Artist’s Book Yearbook 2014/15 (Impact Press, ISBN 978-1-906501-07-5). Here’s the author’s abstract:

Bob Brown imagined an escape from the page; the restrictive nature of the form of the ‘antiquated book’ following into new forms of technology and machine reading. This investigation functions as an inquiry into the idea of the reader as machine; in Bob Brown’s printed experiments in optical reading, can we ever escape the page? In writing for the imagined machine, and in using the page and its restrictions Brown was able to imagine these ideas and new ways of reading. Punctuation and page layout were devices used by Bob Brown and the poets involved with The Readies for Bob Brown’s Machine, The Readies, and Words to represent the movement and speed of a new form of reading through an imagined machine. This essay argues that they actually force the reader[s] themselves into becoming the reading machine perhaps without losing their humanity and without the need for the machine itself. The concepts contained within the writing, and the aspects of optical text design, challenges the page and the way we read, within all three books, and allows the machine to come alive within the text itself and so within the reader. From the author’s website.

Thomas’s works and their conceptual challenges to the page reify in a thought-provoking way the more academic explorations in Stoicheff and Taylor’s The Future of the Page. Rich in its consistent conceptualization, her work articulates the loss of the haptic but only seems poised to instantiate or at least insinuate a palpable physicality that would lift her art to new levels.

 

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