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. Recommended Reading by NOOT

    In the run up to the Unbinding The Book exhibition as part of the London Art Book Fair, Noot (Camille Leproust and Andres Ayerbe Posada) have kindly submitted a selection of books that have served as inspiration to them.

    If On a Winter’s Night a Traveller (Italo Calvino, 1979)


    This is a book of constant beginnings and lost endings. The Reader, who is us, a fictional character, and the author at the same time is constantly battling the frustration of never being able to keep on reading any of the books they (and us) encounter throughout the story and they (and us) are locked in an amusing, obnoxious and titillating cycle of beginnings and lost endings.
    It is a love-letter to the act of reading and of writing books but at the same time Calvino is having a great time teasing everyone (the characters, the readers) and creating the ultimate non-book.

    The System of Objects (Jean Baudrillard, 1968)


    In this book Baudrillard deconstructs the meaning of objects and their utility in the daily life of French society in 1968, analysing the relationship between the object itself and its owner in a capitalist society. Baudrillard writes about the way objects slowly become autonomous through use and how the human figure becomes spectator of their own objects, reversing the signs and meaning that they have given to these same objects in the past, all of that thanks to industrialisation and mass production. These themes were very influential in the development of our project.

    This is Not the End of the Book (Umberto Eco and Jean-Claude Carrière, 2012)


    This is Not the End of the Book discusses the future of the book in the digital age. This book is a catalogue of anecdotes collected by the two authors, with themes ranging from who did exactly invent eroticism or how should we organise a library. It is interesting to see their relationship with books and all the stories that derive from their fascination with the object. I have been particularly inspired by the part where the authors discuss what will happen to their book collections after their death, an amusing-sort-of-depressing idea which I think our project tries to address too.

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