Bookmarking Book Art — Doug Beube

Doug Beube’s works exude the influence of his studies with Keith A. Smith and Gary Frost, craftsmen and scholars whose work has been referenced here.  Eleven years ago, in an interview with Judith Hoffberg in UmbrellaVol 25, No 3-4 (2002), Beube speaks of experiencing

the whole book as an entity in itself, which can’t be done by reading line by line. The book’s not made to do that. Readers experience the totality of the book by building up linear movement, word-byword, sentence by sentence, etc. and I’m interested in the book as a simultaneous experience.

The experience of the wholeness of the book plays off the major theme of Smith’s The New Structure of the Visual Book and The New Text in the Book Format: “Composing the book, as well as the pictures it contains, creates pacing in turning pages. Just as poetry and cinema are conceived in time, so is a book.”  Both Smith and Beube are interested in the structure of the book, “the mechanical aspects of the book as  a technology, and how it functions as a container of  information,” as Beube puts it.  

But where Beube is “trying to solve the problem of experiencing the content of the book as a visual phenomenon, layering it and transforming it into a visual object,” Smith pushes the traditional form of the book to enhance the book experience that “Events depicted in writing unfold through time in space, alongside the physical act of turning pages.”

Although Gary Frost’s influence on Beube’s deep-seated inspiration from the history of the book can be seen in the first two examples below, Beube’s more acerbic view of our digital world in Facebook, the third example, is where they part company.  Frost is still seeking the possibility of an ongoing link between the print and the digital:  “The circumstance of mixed delivery options for books reveals a surprisingly complementary and interdependent relation of affordances and a third stance going forward. We advocate for the interdependence of paper and screen books; neither will flourish without the other.”   Beube’s twisted phonebook dangled before his face in Facebook “both acknowledges and satirizes the intended community of computer users.”

Beube divides his bookworks into methodological categories — Fold, Gouge and Cut:

City by Doug Beube

Inspired by a phrase from the Hindu scriptures, the Vedas, in 1989 I began folding the pages of books in on themselves. The phrase goes, “Curving back upon myself, I create again and again.”

via Doug Beube – Fold.


Using various power tools I selectively removed parts of the cover, pages, and content, for example, by grinding them away. The underlying pages revealed themselves, as hidden depictions interacting with top layers, interrupting what might have been an undisturbed reading of text and image now viewed as an altered book.

via Doug Beube – Gouge.


Theoretically and physically I ‘excavate’ the book, as a phenomenological endeavor, creating hypertexts, as if the text block itself is an archaeological site. When I appropriate books, their words are sometimes readable, their shapes are sometimes recognizable, but in every case they are transformed into objects that are visual and speak volumes.

via Doug Beube – Cut.

See also

Bookmarking Book Art – Doug Beube | @scoopit

Bookmarking Book Art — Doug Beube | @scoopit

Bookmarking Book Art — Rebound – An exhibition at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art | @scoopit

Bookmarking Book Art — Paul Forte | @scoopit

Can Print and E-Books Coexist? Ceci n’est pas un signet!


“So a video journalist goes into a bookstore …”  and finds little to report.  Beset by the BBC’s wallowing in non-events and the trivial, I am probably flailing out unfairly at the PBS’s “dog bites man” story or perhaps indigesting a bit of humbug this Christmas season.   MediaShift . VIDEO: Can Print and E-Books Coexist? | PBS.*

At least one commentator (gfrost; Gary Frost?), however, points out what video journalist Joshua Davis and his interviewees failed to explore:  “[M]issed is an inherent interdependence between print and screen books. An eerie complementary fit of the different affordances means that neither will flourish without the other.” Now there is a premise worth exploring, which Gary Frost does (see previous posting).

And what would Joshua Davis and his interviewees make of David Streitfield’s story in the NY Times that sales of e-reading devices seem to have reached a plateau?  “Even as prices fall, though, the dedicated e-reader is losing steam. The market peaked last year, with 23.2 million devices sold, IHS iSuppli said in a report this month. This year, sales will be 15 million. By 2016, the forecast is for seven million devices — as opposed to 340 million tablets, which allow for e-reading and so much more.”

Streitfield’s story actually begins with “the dog that didn’t bark”:  the prices for ebooks themselves have not fallen, despite the predicted result of the US Justice Department’s case against and settlements with six of the big publishers (five, now that two are merging).    For Frost’s premise that neither form — ebook or print — will flourish without the other, does that raise the question of whether either will decline without the other’s declining?   The rules of logic alone suggest otherwise, but consider Streitfield’s “more counterintuitive possibility … that the 2011 demise of Borders, the second-biggest chain, dealt a surprising blow to the e-book industry. Readers could no longer see what they wanted to go home and order.”

Perhaps the ebook and print are more intertwined than even Frost’s premise implies. Simba’s Jonathan Norris is quoted in Streitfield’s article:  “The print industry has been aiding and assisting the e-book industry since the beginning.”    Of course, someone needs to point this out with a cattle prod to the publishers withholding their ebooks from public and academic libraries.  The site TeachingDegree offers a succinct collection of data (PBS take notes) on the topic in a sort of dialectical digital poster.

Perhaps the whole story is just “human reads book” and is not worth a bookmark, but then where would have been the fun of finding out in punning


with Magritte’s painting that the French for bookmark is either un signet (digital) or un marque-page (print), and in English we can make no distinction?

*In fairness to PBS, readers should take a look at the series “Beyond the Book 2012.”

Still, Frost’s Future of the Book goes far deeper.

“How important are paper books?” | TeleRead

In his Teleread article (11 October 2012), Dan Eldridge picks up on Associate Professor Justin Hollander’s New York Times op-ed piece protesting Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s  comment before the National Press Club that “over the next few years, [paper] textbooks should be obsolete.”

What makes his comments on comments on a comment bookmark-worthy are the comments they provoked from Gary Frost, Emeritus Conservator at the University of Iowa Libraries and the author of Future of the Book: A Way Forward (Coralville, IA: Iowa Book Works, 2012):

“The current rush of changes in print and ebook uses is dramatic evidence of our close relationship with books. A flood of digital reading devices and hybrid software and hardware designs are emerging as the print book is augmented by screen delivery and associated cloud libraries, ebook collection building, automated index and searching, and screen learning. While all screen book simulations deviate from print conventions the hybrids that emerge reference each other and often resonate with each other.  This rapidly developing book production and consumption landscape is dynamic and unique in media history, or is it?

It’s pretty amazing that little attention is paid to the emerging composite of print and screen delivery of books.  I mean looking directly between them and at an emergent functionality of all books. There you can now perceive the interdependence of print and screen and the likelihood that neither will flourish without the other. . . .  Also involved are other forums, other than the forum of current technologies, their products and marketing. These other disciplines include academic book studies, cognitive science aspects of reading, book sustainability within libraries and many vectors of book arts.”

One might single out the infiltration of the book by “the social web” from the vector of current technologies that Frost insightfully identifies as necessary to explore this moment in the book’s/ebook’s evolution in which those who buy ebooks buy yet more print books.  The ability to annotate and share print books is gradually being replicated, prodded as it were by the phenomenon of the social web.

So here you have it: a comment on comments on comments on comments on a comment.

“Of the making of comments, there is no end.”