March 5th, 2007
the future of the book
i was in a restaurant last week and saw the sign above. the “room” had worn away, it looked almost as if someone had peeled it. and i thought ‘how wonderful’, a sign telling me to rest. i instantly thought of creating a bunch a stickers to that affect and posting them all over town. just a small reminder to take a breather.
i suppose that is what i am doing right now, though my life is full of too many practical things that needed doing, (which include fixing plumbing. i do not shy away from doing these things myself.) my hands currently smell unpleasantly of metal, and my hair damp from a dripping tap.
this weekend i put the internet away for a time, and focused on the real world. I say the “real world” because i do not consider this networked environment to be the stuff of real living. which involves smelling the earth and trees and fresh air, and sometimes other smells that are the product of our animal existence. i just finished the novel “Veronica” by Mary Gaitskill and she describes summer smells in New York (or any big city) perfectly, “It sent up a mighty stink to carry all the little smells that played in and out of it–flowers, dirt, cars, garbage, piss and food.”
you may have noticed that i am always in tune with the smells of a place. now i can add sounds to that, after my class with Pauline last season. two days ago i stopped over a sewer grate and listened to the dripping sounds for quite some time. i notice that i am much more able to hear changes in a sound, and connections to other sounds in the environment.
last week i saw a fascinating lecture by Bob Stein, director of the institute for the future of the book. while at first i found myself feeling protective and upset about this medium (book) that i love so much evolving (into a more interactive/all encompassing format, incorporating all mediums, but more specifically moving towards something more wiki based, where the readers have some interaction/influence with the piece), over the course of the evening I realized that this intense emotion is exactly the thing that gets my creative juices spewing in new directions. sometime during the night my fearful thoughts changed to excitement. excitement at the possibilities of experimenting with a new medium, not necessarily as a replacement but instead as a completely new medium altogether. as an artist i have a chance to ‘shape’ it in some way if i choose.
“Books may become like rivers, continuously moving.” ~Bob Stein
i did not sleep much that night and spent some of the next day reading and taking notes, and feeling new ideas flow in.
after reading the interview with Alan Kay who mentioned taking a historical look at technology, i was reminded of Jane Jacobs, who suggests in “the life and death of great american cities” that if you want to create a city that works, you must first take a long detailed look at how and what people do in/with a space. she recommends sitting at a busy street corner for hours at all times of the day and just observe. to quote marti guixe, a designer that I am fond of, “I’m interested in our habits, in the relationship between the body and our actual environment.” somewhere in here lies the solutions to what form the future books will take.
all of these things are roaming about my head these days.