On Thursday 5th March I was lucky enough to be able to see a talk by Marshall Weber, performance/visual artist and founder of Booklyn and Organik. The room was packed to overflowing and obviously I wasn’t the only one keen to hear what this off-centre dude from New York had to say. Here are some notes I took down.
He brought up the concept of ‘augmented books’- with a QR code, etc. He is interested in “extended books”- the book as it extends into galleries, the museum, social environments, physical spaces. He believes that engaging the tactile sense- touching things- is useful for building knowledge. He cited studies that prove just looking at the screen doesn’t activate all of the neurons necessary for learning. As such, the haptic is necessary for knowing things. The importance of touching things- engaging with all senses, may be coming to an end. As he said, “the days of 2D design are almost over”, adding, “I think the days of 2d design are coming to the end because people are realizing how important the other senses are, not because the screens are taking over, I’m kind of an optimist that way!”
Marshall looked at his early beginnings in artist books, collaging images from fashion catalogues and sneaking them into the social sphere. These artists books were a place for commentary on social issues, women’s issues, and the ever evolving/devolving/shifting arena of representation.
The aspect of Marshall’s talk that really engaged me was his fervour for putting things into print. He would bind ideas into books, making books out of lists, correspondence, writing, telephone lists! His experimentation with books covers a wide range of approaches. He showed us a book of photography from the Forbidden City in Beijing, a book that uses magnetic binding in the covers enabling it to be opened in four dimensions, engaging the tactile sense and turning it into something that must be manipulated. He is also interested in physically involving the audience in the reading- for example mounting a book on a turntable, with pages printed in the horizontal, vertical, horizontal. Or a book that covers an entire room- a book that people literally enter… His use of photography and drawings together, the looseness of ideas, that he just prints books, regardless of how the audience might interpret them, not seeking approval and only searching for resonance, drawing over maps, using different mediums to print/draw on, placing work into a context, or without narrative, without explanation. I was blown away.
The talk was inspiring to say the least. Now I’m just waiting for some spare time to throw together things in InDesign and just get them printed. I’m planning to print out the old comics I’ve let run out, the stuff I’m working on right now as loose as it may be, old scripts and old drafts. Feeling pumped and keen to make all of this stuff real. Tactile.