Book sets five and six display the formation of a much more interactive relationship between the text and the reader.
A Tactile Experience:
From Book Set no. 5, Edwin Schlossberg’s Wordswordswords is a perfect example of the important role of the reader’s hand. This book gives the reader the responsibility of constructing the text by assembling (or dissembling) the irregular pages which are often folded or cut into strips. Some sentences are even printed on multiple, moveable pages; others have to be held up to the light and read using the shadows on the back of the page. One sections reads “These words will fall apart,” whose letters are printed on multiple pages. The reader’s interaction with the physical book engages the meaning of the text, as the turning of the pages fragments the letters into small, abstract pieces.
Some other examples of books relying on the reader’s touch can be found in Book Set no. 6. The two books of poems by Pablo Neruda: Las Piedras del Cielo, Skystones and Viente Poemas de Amor y Una Cancion Desperada contain poems printed on flaps; it is the reader’s touch which reveals their poetry. This action transforms the experience, instilling in the reader a sense of intimacy which resonates with the subject matter. As with a loved one: if one removes the facade, one will find hidden depths, beauty and meaning within.
A similar phenomenon occurs in Panorama: By lifting flaps and interacting with the physical object, the reader reveals deeper meaning and narrative. In this book, there is also great attention paid to guiding the reader’s gaze. Such is the case on the page with the stones.
The reader’s attention is led into the shadows beneath the rocks, like Alice falling down the rabbit hole.
The WunderCabinet: The Curious Worlds of Barbara Hodgson & Claudia Cohen is quite literally a box of trinkets and treasures for the reader to discover and handle.
Many of the books in these sets incorporate the image of the hand. Capriccio displays a beautifully rendered and visually surprising title page, where the hands of a creature wrap around the title. Like the reader’s hands, they react to the text.
There is a hand on nearly every page of Roy Fisher’s The Left-Handed Punch. There are also movable elements, held to the page by a pin, around which each segment may be manipulated by the reader. Another factor enhancing the tactile experience is the various patterns and textures of the visual elements. On one page, there is a blue x-ray of a hand, which looks as though it were made of denim. One must reach out and feel the page to be sure that it is merely and print.
The use of reflective metal in Wordswordswords places the physical image of the reader within the world of the book. This is also true for the plastic pages in Alphavitos, whose reflective surfaces change with the colors and lighting of the reader’s environment. These books engage the reader’s world, drawing the reader in, whereas, the digital book, Between Page and Screen, projects the words into a synthetic cyber-version of the reader’s world.
Overall, the Livres d’Artiste forge a much more dynamic and tactile relationship with the reader.