Unbinding the Book

  1. Kate Morrell

    Kate Morrell’s is an artist who employs drawing, sculpture, book works and archival research to create work centred around forgotten histories and instances of amateur and inaccurate interpretations of printed, historical material. For Unbinding The Book, she will be undertaking a research-led book project, which will consist of a digital re-make of a 1958 typesetting innovation created by Prof Dr George van den Bergh, a Dutch lawyer, amateur astronomer and inventor. His new form of typesetting was titled ‘Hoofdletters, Tweeling-en Meerlingdruk’. Translated as ‘Capital letters, Twin and Multiple-print’, it aimed to make more efficient use of the printed page by compressing text, printing in capital letters and moving the lines close together, along with a range of less successful optical tricks, 2-colour spectacles and celluloid reading screens.

    By reducing paper quantity and lowering production cost, he aimed to make books more accessible, though his book was largely dismissed as an eccentric curiosity. His critics anticipated high set-up costs for typesetting and manufacturing equipment. However, with present day design software, many of these concerns are irrelevant. To test Van den Bergh’s theory in print Morell will re-make part of the text, complete with compatible reading screen, using digital processes, which Van den Bergh could not have foreseen. Re-visited in 2014, ‘Hoofdletters, Tweeling-en Meerlingdruk’ appears as much more than a typographic curiosity. His concerns regarding economy of print and information compression and dissemination, resonate further when reread in our post-digital era.