Friday, January 9, 2009

Books as art

500 Handmade Books: inspiring interpretations of a timeless form takes the craft of bookbinding and elevates it to a visual art. The definition of 'book' here is pretty loose, encompassing anything from a sheaf of papers stitched along one side (the type of object most of us think of when using the word 'book') to an accordion-folded paper decorated with intricate paper cutting to tiny scraps of text rolled into bundles and held in a yarn bowl. Used teabags, goat parchment, sheets of plastic, nylon screens and computer circuit boards have all been crafted into unusual examples of the ancient codex form. From a librarian's point of view, the most interesting thing about this gallery of handmade books is that the actual text of the book is often immaterial or just plain missing. If you look at books as a physical storehouse and delivery device for information (be it through words or pictures), then the examples in 500 Handmade Books are like empty shells.
That being said, this is a lovely book to thumb through and admire. It is not a bookbinding manual, or a guide for crafters. Instead, this is an art gallery in paper format. And what better tribute to the beauty of books than this concrete example of how books bring information and experiences into the hands of their readers?

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