Unbinding the Book – the future of print

The debate over the future of print is rapidly becoming as old and musty as an unloved library bookshelf.

Laura Jouan, Monument, 2014
Laura Jouan, Monument, 2014

However, few have responded to the questioning surrounding it as those showing their work at Unbinding the Book – a new show coming to Whitechapel gallery later this month.

Callum Copely
Callum Copely

The exhibition takes place as part of The London Art Book Fair , orgnaised by creative publishing platform Blurb and arts studio Jotta and featuring nine projects that explore the future of the book as a printed object.

Blurb chief marketing officer Bernda Van Camp says, “Books are not only about narrative or literal information, but also their physical context and what this can bring to the content within them. We at Blurb are excited to be able to explore this medium in both its conceptual and practical form, in the hope of changing preconceptions of what a book can be.”

Kate Morrell, Revisiting 'Capital Letters, Twin and Multiple Print' or 'Hoofdletters, Tweeling- en Meerlingdruk'  by Prof. Dr. George Van Den Bergh (1958), Digitised and reprinted, 2014
Kate Morrell, Revisiting ‘Capital Letters, Twin and Multiple Print’ or ‘Hoofdletters, Tweeling- en Meerlingdruk’ by Prof. Dr. George Van Den Bergh (1958), Digitised and reprinted, 2014

One project that looks back in order to look forward is Kate Morrell’s project – a digital re-make of 1958 invention Hoofdletters, Tweeling-en Meerlingdruk (that’s “Capital letters, Twin and Multiple-print”). This typesetting invention was created by Dutch professor Dr George van den Bergh, and imaged to maximise the efficiency of the printed page through closer lines, printing in capital letters and compressing text; with users aided with two-colour glasses.

Kate Morrell, Revisiting 'Capital Letters, Twin and Multiple Print' or 'Hoofdletters, Tweeling- en Meerlingdruk'  by Prof. Dr. George Van Den Bergh (1958). Digitised and reprinted, 2014
Kate Morrell, Revisiting ‘Capital Letters, Twin and Multiple Print’ or ‘Hoofdletters, Tweeling- en Meerlingdruk’ by Prof. Dr. George Van Den Bergh (1958). Digitised and reprinted, 2014

Laura Jouan’s project looks to the “architecture” of books, creating a clean slick-looking piece formed from sheets of acetate, which is to be displayed on a bed of sand. The graphic designer says her work focuses “on the medium as opposed to the content”.

Laura Jouan, Monument, 2014
Laura Jouan, Monument, 2014

Her point underscores a thread running through many of the projects: the imagined future of print isn’t about the words, but the object and the form. These aren’t really works to be read, but to be held and viewed. Content can be read on a screen; physical pieces, processes and experiences cannot, they seem to say.

Carlin Brown
Carlin Brown

Illustrating this idea of ‘experiencing’ books as much as reading them, Camille Leproust and Andres Ayerbe of duo Noot have created a book printed on thermal paper. The paper gradually turns black, meaning that the reader only has about four hours to complete the tome before it’s rendered so dark it’s illegible.

Unbinding the Book runs from 26 – 28 September at Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High St, London E1 7QX. For more information click here

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