Books are objects of the mind. They are an individual’s thoughts made public. This is why books—and reading—are so intimate. They are passage to our most hidden and silent process.

—Marianne Dages

Marianne Dages is a Philadelphia based artist investigating the crossroads between image, language, and thought. Her work is held in public collections including MOMA Library, Yale University Library, and SAIC Chicago. She was awarded the two-year Core Fellowship at Penland School of Crafts, where she studied bookbinding and letterpress printing. Marianne has been an artist in residence at Herhusid in Iceland, Beisinghoff Printmaking Residency in Germany, Wells College, as well as a solo exhibitor at Print Gallery Tokyo. She teaches letterpress and bookbinding and publishes artists’ books under the name Huldra Press. Her press is named Egon.

PERHAPS the best way to think about “What is a book?” is to ask what it is not

PERHAPS it is not a book at all but is something like a desire-engine?

PERHAPS it is something less concrete like a psychically transmitted gaseous Eros

PERHAPS it is not to be found in words but “in itself” AS IF made of words (or not)

PERHAPS it is the last remnants of a communication system whose time has passed

PERHAPS it is the perpetual instantiation of a communication protocol whose time has (and will continue to) come

PERHAPS a book is perpetually coming and we have yet to harness its ultimate form of embodiment

PERHAPS a book just IS and by being-what-it-is we can now be-what-we-are too, also books?

PERHAPS everything in the world exists to end up as a book

PERHAPS the book exists in A World Beyond This Life

—Mark America

Mark Amerika’s artwork has been exhibited internationally at venues such as the Whitney Biennial of American Art, the Denver Art Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, and the Walker Art Center. In 2009-2010, The National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens, Greece, hosted Amerika’s comprehensive retrospective exhibition entitled UNREALTIME. In 2009, Amerika released Immobilité, generally considered the first feature-length art film ever shot on a mobile phone. He is the author of many books including remixthebook (University of Minnesota Press, 2011), META/DATA: A Digital Poetics (The MIT Press, 2007) and the novels The Kafka Chronicles and Sexual Blood (both with FC2/University of Alabama). His artwork Museum of Glitch Aesthetics was commissioned by Abandon Normal Devices as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. In March 2017, he was the first American artist to have a survey exhibition of their digital artwork in Havana and his new book, remixthecontext, was published by Routledge in 2018.

A book is a function which can be run to access a temporarily encapsulated partial map of the universe. A digital constructor made of light, it nonetheless sometimes casts a physical shadow.

—Ian Hatcher

Ian Hatcher is a text / sound / code / performance artist based in New York.

A book is an object that vibrates upon contact.

—Danielle Vogel

Danielle Vogel is a writer, interdisciplinary artist and ceremonialist. She is the author of the poetry collections Between Grammars, the forthcoming Edges & Fray and The Way a Line Hallucinates its Own Linearity. As a writer, Vogel explores the bonds between language and presence, between a reader and a writer, and how a book, as an extended architecture of a body, might serve as a site of radical transformation. Her visual works—or “public ceremonies for language”— celebrate the archives of memory stored within language. She teaches at Wesleyan University.

If aesthetics is to artists as ornithology is to birds, the book is a prismatic birdhouse.

—Kyle Schlesinger

Kyle Schlesinger is a poet and scholar living in Austin. He is also the proprietor of Cuneiform Press.

The book, for a very short time, stabilizes what flows through it, with the proviso that some works do not flow, just as some bodies do not progress from one time to the next in fluid or malleable ways. In this case, the book functions differently. It becomes the ground, a nearby or volatile ground for what lies down: upon it. Throw a charnel net over the book. Set out a bowl of water for the unseen beings, the animals and birds, that gather at its boundary. Or brink.

—Bhanu Kapil

Bhanu Kapil is the author of five books, most recently Ban en Banlieue (Nightboat Books, 2016) and the forthcoming Incubation: a space for monsters (a new edition with “extreme notes” and a preface by Eunsong Kim) from Kelsey Street Press (2018)


I tried to “define the book” when I designed (one of my books) “Cover to Cover” hoping that the “reader” would have a multi-sensory experience of the nature of what she/he held in her/his hands.

—Michael Snow

Michael Snow is considered one of Canada’s most important living artists, and one of the world’s leading experimental filmmakers. His wide-ranging and multidisciplinary oeuvre explores the possibilities inherent in different mediums and genres, and encompasses film and video, painting, sculpture, photography, writing, and music. Snow’s practice comprises a thorough investigation into the nature of perception. A painter, photographer, sculptor, and musician, his work is represented in private and public collections worldwide including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC; the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Centre Georges-Pompidou, Paris, and both the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts and the Musée d’Art Contemporain in Montréal. Snow has represented Canada at the Venice Biennale and is a member of the Order of Canada and a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters in France.

A book is a time-based medium made up of sequenced pages, bound together, composed to animate a reader with ideas, feelings, information, stories. An intimate and flexible medium, a book can take many forms, be large, small, physical, digital, produced as one-of-a-kind, in editions, and in hybrid platforms. It is usually portable, interactive and haptic. Most commonly, word-laden, a book’s contents can be composed of words, images, shapes, colors, symbols, pop-ups, cut-outs, sounds, smells, and any combination of these.

—Warren Lehrer

Warren Lehrer is a writer, designer and book artist known as a pioneer of visual literature and design authorship. Known for his expressive marriage of writing and typography, his books and multimedia projects help us see the shape of thought and reunite oral and pictorial traditions of storytelling with the printed page, and more recently with the screen and hybrid platforms. Awards include: The Brendan Gill Prize, IPPY Outstanding Book of the Year Award, Innovative Use of Archives Award, International Book Award for Best New Fiction, three AIGA Book Awards, and grants and fellowships from the NEA, NYSCA, NYFA, Rockefeller, Ford, and Greenwall Foundations. He is a 2016 Honoree of the Center for Book Arts. His books are in many collections including MoMA, The Getty Museum, and Georges Pompidou Centre. A frequent lecturer and performer, Lehrer is a professor at SUNY Purchase, a founding faculty member of SVA’s Designer As Author MFA program, and co-founder of EarSay, a non-profit arts organization in Queens, NY.

I think a book is where we explore the magical space between eyes and a bent arm.

—Jason Dodge

For the past twenty years Jason Dodge has been making exhibitions of sculptures, meanwhile he founded and edits the poetry imprint Fivehundred places.

trees + river + trees + river

—Terri Witek

Terri Witek’s most recent book is The Rape Kit (Slope Editions 2018). Her poetry often traces the breakages between words and images, and her collaborations with visual artists have been featured in museum and gallery shows, performance and site-specific projects in New York, Seoul, Miami, Glasgow, Lisbon, and Rio de Janeiro. She holds the Sullivan Chair in Creative Writing at Stetson University; with Brazilian visual artist Cyriaco Lopes, she teaches Poetry in the Expanded Field in Stetson’s MFA of the Americas.