Unbinding the Book

  1. Recommended Reading by Kate Morrell

    This list reflects Kate Morrell’s interest and activities within artists’ books and small presses. Whilst a fan of the book object in its material form, Morrell is also interested in considering the book from various perspectives e.g. artist, researcher, designer, distributor, librarian, reader, collector.

    ‘Doctor Ox’s Experiment’ by Jules Verne, 1872
    Reprinted by Prof George Van Den Bergh to accompany his book proposal ‘Capital Letters, Twin and Multiple Print’, 1958


    ‘Dr Ox’s Experiment’ is a short story of science fiction, first published in 1872. As part of his proposal, Prof Van Den Bergh printed a pocket book version of the title by Jules Verne. The reproduction utilised Van Den Bergh’s invention for compressing text: ‘Capital Letters, Twin and Multiple Print’ (1958). A dusty copy of the original proposal can be accessed at St Bride Library, London, including 3 different copies of ‘Dr Ox’s Experiment’. I recommend reading the edition published by Prof Van Den Bergh, complete with celluloid reading screens.

    ‘The Book on Books on Artists’ Books’ by Arnaud Desjardin, The Everyday Press


    ‘The Book on Books on Artists’ Books’ is a bibliography of books, pamphlets and catalogues on artists’ books, published since the early 1970s. The content places an interesting focus upon the varied channels for the distribution, circulation and promotion of artists’ books.

    The Reanimation Library, New York


    This is not a recommendation for one particular book, but an entire collection of material, held by a small library in New York. The Reanimation Library is an ideal resource for my research-based projects. Often my book works are generated from forgotten or overlooked material from sites of collection and archive. If only they had a UK branch.

    ‘The Reanimation Library is an independent presence library.* The books in the collection—simultaneously prosaic and peculiar—are relics of the rapidly receding 20th century. Chosen primarily for the images that they contain, they have been culled from thrift stores, rummage sales, flea markets, municipal dumps, library sales, give-away piles, and used bookstores across the country.’ 

    ‘*Presence library is a mistranslation of the German word for reference library, Präsenzbibliothek. In addition to being a non-circulating collection, the library encourages IRL encounters with actual books and actual humans.’

    ‘Variable Format’ by Lynn Harris, published by AND and designed by Åbäke with Pierre Pautler, 2012


    A project by AND publishing which explores technical scope of print on demand services.

    ‘Variable Format is a sample book, a model, a serial system that explores the technological margins of print on demand and how reading is informed by the materiality of the book object.’ 

    I’m also interested in a second publishing and exhibition project by AND publishing: ‘The Piracy Project’, which explores creative approaches to reproduction, appropriation and notions of authorship. One of my book works, ‘Hoard’ (2012), is included in this collection of touring publications.

    Four Corners Familiars, Four Corners Books


    Four Corners Familiars is a series of new editions of classic novels that feature artists responses to the material. I’m interested in this revival of ‘lost’ texts and how they can be reinterpreted and repositioned through appropriation by the artist. Two favourites from the series are: ‘The Prisoner of Zenda’ by Anthony Hope, with art by Mireille Fauchon. ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ by Oscar Wilde with art by Gareth Jones.

    ‘The Form of the Book Book’ edited by Sara De Bondt and Fraser Muggeridge, Occasional Papers, 2009


    A selection of essays on book design by graphic designers and graphic design historians, including a conversation with Bob Stein founder of The Institute for the Future of the Book.

    ‘In a nod to Jan Tschichold’s famous collection of essays The Form of the Book, first published in 1975, this book offers in-depth analyses of key moments in the history of book design in order to better imagine the many forms the book will take, and is already taking, in our digital age.’

    ‘Post-Digital Print. The Mutation of Publishing Since 1894′ by Alessandro Ludovico, Onomatopee, 2012


    ‘How will the analog and the digital coexist in the post-digital age of publishing? How will they transition, mix and cross over?’  Alongside its focus on defining and expanding the term ‘post-digital print’, the book reflects on the history of alternative publishing, zine culture and the evolution of print. You can buy the printed book from Onomatopee or download a PDF version for free.

    ‘The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood’ by James Gleick, 2011


    Admittedly i’ve not yet finished this book – its volume is overwhelming. The book provides a history of information beginning with cuneiform tablets and the compilation of the first English dictionary, through to cloud technology.

  2. Interview with Callum Copley

    We sat down with Callum Copley to discuss his project,  the democratisation of print and the semiotics inherent in the merging of images and text.


    What attracted you to the Unbinding the Book project?

    The project looked like a great opportunity to explore ‘the book as an art object’ rather than strictly a carrier of information.

    What drew you to the book as a medium?

    Having studied as a graphic designer, print and books have always been a format I have been comfortable with. Having recently worked on more digital and interactive works I felt it was a good chance to return to the printed page with a fresh perspective.

    Could you explain your practice?

    I would consider myself a graphic designer and communication researcher. I am very interested in vernacular communication, the psychology of language and the effect of technology on human discourse.

    Could you describe your project?

    The project is an exploration into the act of reading itself and the social norms that are associated with it. Reading would be considered by many to be a solitary act and I wanted confront this presumption. I have created a book which requires two people to read the publication in tandem. The physical construction of the book forces the pair to discuss the narrative to fully understand the story.

    What techniques are you incorporating into your work? The book employs complex page layout and typographic experiments, in order to lead the viewers around the page in unusual ways. The text is created in a way so as to choreograph the movement of the viewers eyes. Almost scripting a performance of the way it should be read by the two subjects. I have also constructed a custom bench/table/see saw on which the book sits which means that it is impossible to read the book alone, without a partner sat opposite.


    Your book uses photography to tell its story. What are the benefits of using imagery as a way to evoke a narrative?

    I’m particularly interested in the semiotics of combining images and text. For this reason, in many points in my book I have allowed one viewer to read a whole page of text whereas the other view is presented only an image. By doing this I am able to control the time that each person must look at an image. As we are now a society of scrollers and swipers – to have someone else sat opposite you dictate your viewing time is interesting to me. I feel images and words and can be equally powerful and useful so in my book I chose to play with how I balance the two.

    Whilst your book focuses on collaborative reading, new technologies are encouraging collaborative writing and creating new possibilities for the creation and consumption of literature. What do you think is the impetus for these new collaborative approaches?

    I have done a great deal of research into these fields and I think the future of reading and writing is in such technologies. There is however such intrenched culture around reading that some of the more avant-garde approaches to reading are met with much resistance. I think the medium of the internet will produce drastically different methods of reading in the near future but the process of uptake will be a slow, and generational one.

    Throughout our daily lives, there is more emphasis put on sharing our experiences using digital platforms than ever before. Whilst I feel these ideas tie into your project, would you say that there is an intimacy between the two readers that couldn’t work within a digital context?

    This might well be the case, but I do believe that collaborative models of communication can reach their full potential in the digital sphere. Although the internet is superficially a place of connectivity, there are very few programs, and websites that are truly collaborative. I believe the infrastructure is there but it is all too often used in a outdated manner.