Ebook-Inspired Art: Center for Book Arts Nods at How Digital Is Changing Everything

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

I had the pleasure this past Friday evening of attending an opening of an exhibit at the wonderful Center for Book Arts in New York (28 West 27th St. in Manhattan).

Titled Once Upon a Time, There Was the End and curated by Rachel Gugelberger, an independent curator, the art explored repeating patterns, organic forms and the cycle of life. It also touched on digital publishing with this work:

Book art digital corredct

It’s a piece by artist Ellen Harvey. It’s three plexiglass mirrors with images of e-readers and e-reading apps etched onto them, mounted onto “lumisheets” (an LED light panel) and framed in plexiglass. The piece is titled Looking-Glass iPad, Kindle & Nook and the images are reversed (like in a mirror).

It was the only piece I saw in the exhibit that addressed digital publishing. It would seem at first, actually, that a place like the Center for Book Arts might not embrace or address digital publishing. For instance, take a look at the organization’s mission statement:

The Center for Book Arts is dedicated to preserving the traditional artistic practices of book-making, as well as exploring and encouraging contemporary interpretations of the book as an art object.

There is definitely an opening for innovative, interesting digital book publishing, although it’s certainly not what the Center had in mind when it was founded in 1974.

I spoke with the Center’s chairman of the board, Bob Ruben (who, full disclosure, is a friend), asking him if book art could be digital.

He said, “of course!” And then pointed me toward the ebook-inspired art above.

At Digital Book World, we’re also interested in promoting innovative and beautiful publishing. We host the Digital Book Awards, which honors innovation and quality in ebook, enhanced ebook and app publishing. The 2015 DBA entries are open. In January 2014, we had a gala dinner announcing and honoring the winners hosted by LeVar Burton.

Learn more about the Digital Book Awards

Unfortunately, the next DBA winners won’t be announced until next January at Digital Book World 2015. In the meantime, here’s some more book art:

Book art 3

This is a detail of a piece called Rosita, Esmeralda, Socorro y Alma by Cecile Chong. The media are encaustic (a kind of hot wax painting), marbled paper and books.

Book art 4

This is Pleased to Meet Me, another piece by Cecile Chong and it’s a “carousel book.”

Book art 5

This piece is called Tree by Jenifer Wightman and it’s a thread-bound book that represents all the plants, animals and other forms of life on earth, a book/tree of life.

Book art 1

Book art 2

Both of the pictures above were details taken of a larger piece of books and life in petri dishes. Unfortunately, I did not record the artist or title. Per the comment below, the artist is Diane Stemper and piece is called Cell:Compendium.

You can learn more about the Center for Book Arts here and if you want to join the organization or contribute, do so here.

All photo credits: Jeremy Greenfield

5 thoughts on “Ebook-Inspired Art: Center for Book Arts Nods at How Digital Is Changing Everything

  1. Rachel Gugelberger

    Hi Jeremy,
    Thanks for the plug!
    Just wanted to let you know that Ellen’s image is backwards and upside down. Please amend when you can. Thanks again.
    Rachel

    Reply
  2. Diane Stemper

    The last two images of the books in Petri dishes are mine!
    Artist name is Diane Stemper and the two details of dishes is from a larger installation titled: Cell:Compendium

    Reply

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