English leaf and Latin liber “book” are etymologically cognate, deriving ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *lewbʰ– “to cut off,” while the word page—which comes to English from Latin via French—derives from *peh₂ǵ– “to attach.” The word book itself derives from the word for the beech tree, whose bark was peeled off to make a surface for writing. Etymologically, then, a book is a superposition of what can be separated and what comes to be stuck together; a book is (to paraphrase Quine) undetached book parts. Or as Robert Frost might put it, a book is “dead leaves stuck together”—leaves that steps have trodden black.

—Allison Parrish


Allison is a computer programmer, poet, educator and game designer whose teaching and practice address the unusual phenomena that blossom when language and computers meet, with a focus on artificial intelligence and computational creativity. She is a Teacher at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, where she earned her master’s degree in 2008. Her first full-length book of computer-generated poetry, Articulations, was published by Counterpath in 2018.

decontextualize.com

The book is a hybrid device—a storage, display, and distribution mechanism for literature, art, and information. Paired with an alphabet, it is the greatest invention of mankind: a dedicated object with the capacity for access and retrieval, without fail, for hundreds of years—in version 1.0.

—Steve Woodall


Steve Woodall is a collections specialist for artists’ books at the Achenbach Foundation, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, currently working on media-rich websites that represent bookworks in the collection. Formerly director of the Center for Book and Paper Arts at Columbia College Chicago, he managed the development of Expanded Artists’ Books, a studio-based project with artists to examine the relationship between print and digital media. From 1999-2001 he was an artist in residence at Xerox PARC, part of the research project XFR: Experiments in the Future of Reading.

AFGA

a cover

a page

an ounce

a word

a page and two spreads

seventy-four pages

a PDF

an image

bound 

stolen

a website

a diary

unavailable

folded

a title 

two hundred twenty-six pages

a sculpture 

a dog’s breath

free

wrapped

heavy

a page and five spreads

read

pulped

a shim

a nap

forty pages

glued

a poster

a video

burnt

—Antonia Pinter


Antonia Pinter is an artist based in Los Angeles, California. Formerly the Co-Director of Publication Studio Portland, Oregon, she is currently an Editorial Board Member of Fillip. She is the author and editor of Women’s Autobiographical Artists’ Books, an ongoing bibliographic index publication, and the author of several artists’ books including Light Levels (Bronze Age, 2015), her water, and A Grave For Bobbi Doten.

—Ronaldo V. Wilson


Ronaldo V. Wilson, PhD, is the author of Narrative of the Life of the Brown Boy and the White Man (University of Pittsburgh, 2008), winner of the 2007 Cave Canem Prize; Poems of the Black Object (Futurepoem Books, 2009), winner of the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry and the Asian American Literary Award in Poetry in 2010. His latest books are Farther Traveler: Poetry, Prose, Other (Counterpath Press, 2015), and Lucy 72 (1913 Press, 2018). Co-founder of the Black Took Collective, Wilson is also a mixed media artist, dancer, and performer. The recipient of fellowships from Cave Canem, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, the Ford Foundation, Kundiman, MacDowell, and Yaddo, among others, Wilson is Associate Professor of Creative Writing and Literature at UC Santa Cruz, serving on the core faculty of the Creative Critical PhD Program, and co-directing the Creative Writing Program.

It is difficult to top I.A. Richards: “a book is a machine to think with.” But, more concretely, a book—codex—is a collection of words, letters, and other typographical symbols inscribed on what is by convention termed pages that are bound together by some means. If it is the object that we most likely all agree upon as being such, at least one of said pages will contain bibliographic information and codes for the legal rights of ownership, and the whole thing will be wrapped in such a way as to generate the interest of prospective consumers. Digital forms of books will retain the inscriptions and the idea of a writing surface, but expand the means of claiming property rights. “Ebooks” eliminate the entire navigational apparatus and as a consequence of having undone all of the labor that went into the design of the original object, reading—the intended use of all books—becomes distinctly unpleasant.

—Rita Raley


Rita Raley teaches in the Department of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has published on subjects ranging from Global English and universal alphabets to tactical media, dataveillance, machine translation, and electronic literature.

raley.english.ucsb.edu

The book is a dislocation device.

—Travis Shaffer


Travis Shaffer (°1983, Pennsylvania, US) is an artist, publisher, educator, and a photographer—of sorts. His practice centers around the history and ontology of photography; resulting in the use of both vernacular photographs and those made within the broad spectrum of artistic practice. Shaffer is currently a member of an international artists’ book cooperative [ABC]. Currently Travis is based in Columbia, MO where he is an Assistant Teaching Professor in Art at the University of Missouri. There he recently began producing collaborative risograph publications under the imprint theretherenow.

travisshaffer.com

As a network of embodied interactions, the book invites us all to delve into the spatial, temporal, visual, verbal and tactile experiences it brings together.

—Tatiani Rapatzikou


Tatiani G. Rapatzikou is Associate Professor in the Department of American Literature, School of English, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. Her publications (monograph, articles, edited volumes) focus on contemporary American literature (fiction and poetry), technological uncanny, cyberpunk/cyberculture (with emphasis on William Gibson) as well as on digital and print narratives. In 2009, she was awarded a Fulbright Visiting Scholar grant for her research in contemporary American fiction and digital media (M.I.T. Comparative Media Studies program). In 2012, she was a visiting research scholar at the Literature Program (Duke University), and winner of the Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund international competition for her project ‘Urban Environments in Transition’ (www.asrp.gr/urban). She has co-edited with Philip Leonard, NTU, UK, a special issue for Gramma: Journal of Theory and Criticism with the title “Digital Literary Production and the Humanities” (http://ejournals.lib.auth.gr/gramma). In 2016 she was a visiting research scholar at York University, Toronto, Canada, for her research in urban narratives and digital literary practice. http://www.enl.auth.gr/instructor_en.asp?Id=81

The book, where we’re hidden. We who know what Auschwitz is (“2/3 of millennials” don’t). One gets a book from Amazon.com, the total corporation presumably responsible for the demise of the bricks-and-mortar bookstores of our cities. What of the mind, the very shape of thought? The book should have arms and legs. One thinks of the Illustrated Guide to Paris, how often that book itself thinks us. In the market stall, one hesitates before “a book as dazzling as an Indian handkerchief or shawl.” Is my own incompletion of thinking the book itself bibliographic? If so, the book qualifies as its own dispersal. If the book is a technology, this is therefore a technological dispersal, an enhanced incompletion or questioning. The question of the book as the perfectly-timed question of the ruin.

—Tim Roberts


Tim Roberts is the author of The Reaganites (BlazeVOX, 2018), praised by Johanna Drucker as a “monstrous demonstration of the bloat conditions of our world,” and Drizzle Pocket (BlazeVOX, 2011), praised by Tan Lin as a “beautiful and exhilarating expression of the structures that feelings form,” and is director of the publisher and exhibition space Counterpath.

counterpathpress.org

We come to language on and beyond the page—articulations of the book: snapshot, found object, film, and field. Bridges between beings and beliefs. Embodiments in the sensual infrastructure. More practice than performance. Our witness, the anti-binary, beating between.

—Deborah Poe


Deborah Poe is the author of the poetry collections keep (Dusie Press), the last will be stone, too (Stockport Flats), Elements (Stockport Flats), and Our Parenthetical Ontology (CustomWords), as well as a novella in verse, Hélène (Furniture Press). Her visual works—including video poems and handmade book objects—have been exhibited at Pace University (New York City), Casper College (Wyoming), Center for Book Arts (New York City), University of Arizona Poetry Center (Tucson), University of Pennsylvania Kelly Writers House at Brodsky Gallery (Philadelphia), and ONN/OF “a light festival” (Seattle), as well as online with Bellingham Review, Elective Affinities, Peep/Show, Trickhouse, and The Volta. She lives in Seattle.

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The book gives weight to information & puts spine in our reading. It adds gravity to our erudition & gives substance to knowledge. The book is manual not automatic: slow, thoughtful & purposeful, building scholarship with turning pages. The book is.

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—Scott McCarney


Scott McCarney is an artist, designer, and educator in Rochester, New York USA. He received formal design training at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia and an advanced photography degree from the University at Buffalo/Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, New York. His works can be found in The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Victoria & Albert Museum, London; and Yale University Art Gallery, among others. His teaching and lecturing itinerary has carried the banner of artists books to Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Mexico, and South America.

His primary art practice has been in book form since 1980 and spans many media, from offset and digital printing to sculpture and site-specific installation. Many of his visual books utilize photography and incorporate frequently overlooked details of day-to-day living — discrete moments unbound by daily existence.

scottmccarneyvisualbooks.com

scottmccarney.blogspot.com/