Barbara Hodgson and &Claudia Cohen The Wundercabinet book/artifact collection made for an intricately tactile reading experience. Inspired by the 16th century Wunderkammen of European collectors, Hodgson and Cohen set out to create a project that would act as an extension of a room where such a collection of “exotic curiosities” would have been housed. The authors successfully managed to simulate the actual experience of sensory-overload upon entering a Wundrkammen. In an actual Wunderkammen, the collection’s owner would have been able to explain objects and provide anecdotes as needed. Hodgson and Cohen created their book as a stand in, allowing readers a guide to their experience with the objects inside the box. While their introduction even states: “Drawn as well to a universe compressed into the side of a box, we delight in the microcosm that encourages playful juxtaposition and multi-sensory contemplation,” this is obvious withoutany explanation. The personal nature of the collection would not be as strong if the small objects were absent from the final product – even though it could be argued that the objects are not book-like. In essence, the book becomes the Wunderkammen, organizing the chaotic nature of an actual room of wonder – condensing it into a manageable form that is still complex and consuming.
Wordswordswords by Edwin Schlossberg is a book that is very dependent on its materiality for meaning. While each page is a uniform size, Schlossberg (or maybe the publisher/others involved) expanded the possibilities of experience with the use of paper, plastic and aluminum (or something like aluminum). Each page reacts differently to its surroundings, making for a reading experience that is in constant flux. This book is aesthetically beautiful but the material choices were made to enhance the meaning of the words onthe pages. In some, the reader’s face is mirrored back at them, while in others a constant shift of light occurs as the page is turned. Using clear plastic instead of paper for some of the pages was an interesting choice that added a new dimension to Wordswordswords. The plastic pages allowed me to see through them to the pages before/after and in other instances a stack of plastic pages worked together to form complete words and sentences – with parts of each being printed on different layers. This book would not have been as successful had it been printed with normal materials and all harmony between text and page would have been lost.