[-empyre-] HYBRID BOOKWORK, Week Three - At the Digital Publishing Crossroads: Design, Documentation and Art Practice

Benjamin Shaykin ben at benjaminshaykin.com
Sun Mar 2 03:48:34 EST 2014

Hello Empyreans,

Thank you to Michael for the invitation and introduction, and my apologies
for my incredibly belated entrance into this conversation, which I've been
enjoying from the sidelines.

My own work around these issues came out of my MFA thesis at RISD, The Book
in Translation (http://benjaminshaykin.com/The-book-in-translation). I am
interested in the book as a physical object and a symbolic presence, and
how this is evolving in this particular moment of ephemeralization and
digitization. My work documents and comments upon this condition by
reinvesting ephemeral artifacts with physical form. This cycle of physical
and digital recursion has continued, as my work has been collected in
Silvio's Post-Digital Publishing Archive (http://p-dpa.net/) and Paul
Soulellis' Library of the Printed Web (
http://libraryoftheprintedweb.tumblr.com). I am also honored to be included
in the first issue of Printed Web, which launches tonight at Printed Matter
in New York (http://printedmatter.org/events/178), if anyone happens to be
in the area.

A few projects that might be of particular interest here:

Special Collection (http://benjaminshaykin.com/Special-Collection) is a set
of a dozen small hand-sewn books documenting scanning errors found in
Google Books. Each book is recreated as its own volume, containing a mix of
intact pages and problem pages -- fingers and hands of the scanner operators
sometimes obscuring entire pages, pages scanned through tissue paper, pages
scanned while mid-turn, fold-out maps and diagrams scanned while folded,
etc. The set also includes a resetting of Google's cover page PDF in the
style of the grand title pages of the scanned books themselves, as well as
compendiums of scanned date due slips and endpapers.

Lo-Res Books (http://benjaminshaykin.com/Lo-Res-Books) is a series of
iconic book covers simplified and abstracted through extreme pixelation,
another response to the digitization of books, and notions of compression
and loss of fidelity. I am fascinated by the way that book and especially
their covers act as badges of identity, broadcasting a sense of who we are
as readers, or how we hope to be seen. I am also interested in the fact
that ebooks still seem to need "covers" even though the covers are no
longer covering anything. They have gone from being iconic to truly icons.

Finally, Z-A (http://benjaminshaykin.com/Z-A) is a response to questions of
ownership and licensing around digital books. In 2011, HarperCollins
announced new limits on e-book lending for libraries: digital books would
only be allowed to circulate 26 times before they expired and would have to
be replaced. In response, I created a physical book which dissolves through
successive readings. It begins with the text of Borges' The Library of
Babel, repeating the story 26 times. With each repetition, one letter of
the alphabet is removed, until finally all that is left are punctuation
marks and numerals.

Thanks, and apologies again for the delay in posting.


On Thu, Feb 20, 2014 at 3:36 AM, Ethel Baraona Pohl <ethel.baraona at gmail.com
> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Hi empyreans,
> Thanks Silvio for sharing your research on P--DPA.
> Yesterday in a meeting about publishing and planning some forthcoming
> books, this book came in to my hands:
>  http://www.valiz.nl/en/IReadWhereIAm
> It's at least interesting how the design tries to adapt to new ways of
> reading, sometimes simulating the way we read tweets (part of the index is
> adapted to the 140 cc length) or the way the keywords of each paragraph are
> highlighted with different tones of the grayscale on the main text. To be
> sincere I haven't read it completely and I'm not sure if it's comfortable
> or not, but what I found valuable is that experimentation is in two
> directions: from the web to the book and the book to the web: because the
> book can be found entirely on-line here (http://www.ireadwhereiam.com/)
> --Note: please use Safari or Firefox, not working on Chrome.
> On the web-site is possible to read the original published texts and also
> the edited ones, which makes the difference with the printed book by
> expanding it's content and keeping it alive.
> I just thought on sharing this because is another experiment on the
> concept of "hybrid book".
> Best from sunny Barcelona,
> e.
> ---
> Ethel Baraona Pohl | dpr-barcelona <http://www.dpr-barcelona.com/>
> Curator Think Space MONEY<http://www.think-space.org/en/theme/money_2013/>
> twitter @ethel_baraona <https://twitter.com/ethel_baraona> | about.me<http://about.me/ethel_baraona>
> (+34) 626 048 684
> *Before you print think about the environment*
> On Wed, Feb 19, 2014 at 10:15 PM, Silvio Lorusso <silviolorusso at gmail.com>wrote:
>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>> Hello everyone and thanks to Michael for the invitation.
>> I'd take this opportunity to tell a bit more about P--DPA and some
>> possible relationships with the previous discussion. The Post-Digital
>> Publishing Archive is a project that I started around one year ago as part
>> of a research at the Iuav University of Venice. Simply put, the goal of
>> P--DPA is to draw a map of the experiments that deal with publishing and
>> digital technologies in the fields of art and design. Its online appearance
>> consists mainly of two spaces:
>> - http://p-dpa.net/ (recently launched): the platform I use to collect,
>> juxtapose and categorise the works.
>> - http://p-dpa.tumblr.com/ : the more or less daily log in which I
>> collect quotes, works, memes etc. that are in a way or another related to
>> the theme.
>> Hopefully, p-dpa.net will provide a manyfold, fluid and maybe overlooked
>> perspective on the current publishing ecosystem. I believe that
>> experimental artworks are able to shed light on publishing, because they
>> often embed, highlight and take even advantage of its ambiguities and
>> paradoxes. In this sense, I try to privilege works that question the
>> current state of publishing, through the engagement with its modes of
>> production, dissemination, validation, etc. One aspect that I consider
>> crucial is to preserve the socio-technical context in which the works exist
>> and, as a starting point in this direction, I chose to categorise the works
>> not only by their media, but also by the technologies and platforms (e.g.
>> Wikipedia, Google) employed or exploited (here an overview:
>> http://p-dpa.net/index/ ). Of course the distinction among those is
>> often fuzzy and therefore problematic (and here I think of the previous
>> discussions on the digital as medium and/or agent), so suggestions are more
>> than welcome. As categorisation and inclusion become themselves the tools
>> to critically approach the works, an evolving vocabulary is needed.
>> Currently, each work contains metadata that can be extracted by querying
>> the database, the structure of which should be transparent.
>> I'd like to spend some words on my naive -and somehow utilitarian-
>> adoption of the term "post-digital". The choice derived from a clear sense
>> of dissatisfaction toward the polarisation of the general debate around
>> (digital) publishing and its practice in art/design schools. This unease is
>> brilliantly expressed by Frédéric Kaplan, who says that <<most debates
>> follow the same pattern. One will say that with a single digital reading
>> device he can take a whole library with him. The other will challenge him
>> to read an ebook on the beach, taking a bath, arguing for the versatility
>> and simplicity of use of the paperback option. [...] At this point, the
>> debate turns bad. It is time to leave the room...>>.
>> I believe dualisms are not bad *a priori*, in fact we saw on this list
>> very different, thought-provoking ones during the last days.  What I'm
>> specifically talking about is a generic old-vs-new approach. As a result of
>> it, this vague "new", in order to be really new, must show off its maximum
>> potential. This is often done by highlighting isolated functionalities
>> embedded in mobile devices and by employing an "additive" design process
>> (<<now you can take notes, listen to audio extra contents, share passages
>> with friends, etc.>>) In a previous mail, Adam Hyde seems to confirm this
>> issue, by asking <<why is it assumed that digital media must use as much as
>> possible of its 'digitalness' (or at least its non-analog-ness) in order to
>> cross some threshold of 'being digital'?>>
>> In this respect, as far as I know, rarely there are courses in schools on
>> the humble EPUB, while there are plenty on enhanced books for iPad. My
>> personal sensation, expressed elsewhere, is that the iPad is becoming the
>> new white cube for digital content, though a very apparent, non-neutral,
>> opaque one. To me, the term "post-digital" was an escape door from the
>> baroqueness and gloss of the "enhanced book", allowing me to consider
>> low-tech solutions such as ASCII texts or even stapled zines.
>> In fact, e-books' functionalities are frequently consciously limited for
>> the sake of 'enhanced' dissemination. I think for instance of badly
>> scanned, non-OCRed PDF on Monoskop. So, I feel that in order to grasp the
>> "messy and paradoxical condition of art and media after digital technology
>> revolutions" it's useful to look away from the object-oriented
>> functionalities, toward a systemic approach. This is the reason why I use
>> the term "publishing" rather than "book" or "bookwork".
>> I followed the panel on the post-digital at Transmediale with great
>> interest and I'd like to mention one thing that I profoundly agree with.
>> The idea was not to consider post-digitality as a 'feature' embedded into
>> the artworks, but rather as a perspective applied to them. As an example,
>> "A Room of One's Own/A Thousand Libraries" by Kajsa Dahlberg (2006) is <<a
>> compilation of all the marginal notes made by readers in the Swedish
>> library copies of Virginia Woolf 's 1929 pamphlet "A Room of One's Own".>> (
>> http://kajsadahlberg.com/archiveworks/a-room-of-ones-own--a-thousand-libraries/) Probably, the artist didn't have in mind CommentPress and the collective
>> reading/writing in a digital sense, but I believe that the work becomes
>> very pertinent when related to specific functions of e-readers like the
>> Kindle or platforms like Medium.
>> I think this is also connected to the quest for ideal 'hybrid' works by
>> Alessandro. I feel that in order to express the metabolisation of the
>> digital in our lives, it is not strictly necessary that the work embeds
>> digital processes in its production or fruition. My guess is that artworks
>> that are situated "on the outside" can be equally illuminating.
>> Thanks again and sorry for the long post.
>> Silvio
>> 2014-02-18 21:29 GMT+01:00 Michael Dieter <M.J.Dieter at uva.nl>:
>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>> Hi empyreans,
>>> I'm pleased to welcome three more guests this week to the discussion
>>> of Hybrid Bookwork: Angela Genusa, Silvio Lorusso and Benjamin
>>> Shaykin. Please find their bios below. I'd highly encourage you to
>>> check out their work documented online (and in some cases
>>> downloadable). I really can't say enough good things about their
>>> stuff, but they've all inspired me to think more seriously and in
>>> different ways about whatever has been happening lately to books, and
>>> I'm really glad that they all said yes to post this week to the list!
>>> Cheers,
>>> - M.
>>> Bios:
>>> Angela Genusa is a US-based writer and artist. She is the author of
>>> 'Twenty Six Wikipedia Articles' (PediaPress, 2013), 'Musée du Service
>>> des Objets Trouvés' (PediaPress, 2013), 'Spam Bibliography' (Troll
>>> Thread, 2013); 'Tender Buttons and Jane Doe' (Gauss PDF, 2013);
>>> 'Highlights for Ren' (Lulu, 2013),
>>> 'onlinedating.teenadultdating/Adult-Dating' (Lulu, 2012) and 'The
>>> Package Insert of Sorrows' (Lulu, 2011). Forthcoming is her book
>>> 'Simone's Embassy' (Truck Books, 2014), as well as 'Composition'
>>> (2014, publisher TBA). Information about her book work can be found at
>>> http://cargocollective.com/angelagenusa.
>>> Silvio Lorusso is an Italian artist, designer and researcher.
>>> Currently he investigates the intersections between publishing and
>>> digital technology from the perspective of art and design as PhD
>>> candidate in Design Sciences at Iuav University of Venice. He
>>> regularly collaborates with the Institute of Network Cultures in
>>> Amsterdam. In 2011 he graduated in Visual and Multimedia
>>> Communications. Subsequently, he spent a period of study at the
>>> Networked Media course of the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam. He
>>> took part in exhibitions, festival and events such as Transmediale
>>> (Berlin, Germany), Unlike Us (Amsterdam, Netherlands), Fahrenheit39
>>> (Ravenna, Italy). Some of his works are included in the Rhizome
>>> ArtBase Selection. He has written for blogs and magazines such as
>>> Progetto Grafico and Doppiozero. For more information see:
>>> http://silviolorusso.com/; http://p-dpa.net/ and
>>> http://p-dpa.tumblr.com/
>>> Benjamin Shaykin is a Providence-based designer and educator,
>>> specializing in book design and other printed matter. He received his
>>> MFA from Rhode Island School of Design in 2011, and his BA in Studio
>>> Art & Art History from Oberlin College in 1995. Since 2004, he has
>>> maintained his own freelance practice, working primarily with
>>> publishers, museums, and arts organizations. His work has been
>>> featured in the New Yorker, and recognized by the Type Director's
>>> Club, AIGA's Best of New England (BoNE) Show, Print's Regional Design
>>> Annual, Communication Arts, Readerville's Most Coveted Covers, and the
>>> Society of Publication Designers. He has been a full-time member of
>>> The Design Office since September 2011. Previously, he was a designer
>>> and art director at Chronicle Books and Mother Jones, and was
>>> cofounder and creative director of Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop
>>> Culture. He is a critic at RISD, teaching courses in typography and
>>> graphic design. For more information see: http://benjaminshaykin.com/
>>> --
>>> Michael Dieter
>>> Lecturer
>>> Media Studies
>>> The University of Amsterdam
>>> Turfdraagsterpad 9
>>> 1012 XT Amsterdam
>>> http://home.medewerker.uva.nl/m.j.dieter/
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> empyre forum
>>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
>> --
>> *Silvio Lorusso*
>> -
>> @silvi0L0russo <https://twitter.com/silvi0L0russo>
>> Skype: silvio.lorusso
>> silviolorusso at gmail.com
>> +39.338.73.78.059
>> -
>> silviolorusso.com
>> p-dpa.net
>> p-dpa.tumblr.com
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
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