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Thursday, August 12, 2010

AE20: Books

Paper may be used in construction as recycled filler for insulation and in the form of concrete tubes, found in many of Shigeru Ban's projects, but using books as an architectural element would just be silly. Right? Yet a couple projects--admittedly more installations than buildings--that landed in my newsreader and inbox happen to use those bound things with words and (sometimes) pictures on them for defining spaces, indoors and out.

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["Scanner" by Matej Kren | image source]

Inhabitat posts Matej Kren's installation "Scanner" at the Museum of Modern Art in Bologna, Italy. The huge conical object and enclosure is built from books, "because of their nature as seat of knowledge, as symbols of intrinsically human free thought, books are here 'used' as raw materials for an artistic process existing and communicating on many distinct levels." I can't help thinking it also has something to do with the state of books, as Amazon.com's sales for electronic books now outsell the paper ones.

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["Scanner" by Matej Kren | image source]

I also think the choice aims to overwhelm one physically and psychologically. The installation is large--and the space inside is visually enlarged with mirrors--but with books as building blocks we have something to relate to. We've held books in our hands, so seeing thousand of them stacked and stuffed into the museum's gallery makes it that much more impressive. The same space with bricks, stucco, or another "architectural" materials just wouldn't work, metaphorically or experientially.

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["Scanner" by Matej Kren | image source]

The second installation occurs at the International Garden Festival in M├ętis, Quebec. In Jardin de la Connaissance the designers 100land similarly use books to "[invoke] the mythic relation between knowledge and nature integral to the concept of 'paradise'." They are stacked to form walls, benches and carpets apparently set into the surrounding earth.

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[Jardin de la Connaissance by 100land | photo by Thilo Folkerts]

I especially like the mushrooms cultivated on the books, partly because these areas comment on the natural decomposition of the paper in books, something you won't find with ebook devices with their toxic ingredients. This touch also gets at what I mentioned above, how books are at a point where their disintegration is occurring on another level, losing its status as the tool for disseminating information.

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[Jardin de la Connaissance by 100land | photo by Thilo Folkerts]

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing! Truly captivated by "Scanner." Any ideas as to why the piece is titled that?

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  2. Roger - Not sure exactly why it's called that, but I could see the title arising from optical scanners that convert books from print to digital, the action of scanning books with our eyes and brains, and hi-tech surveillance. The title seems intentionally open-ended.

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  3. cool design idea. Great post, check out also 3D Rendering

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  4. thanks for sharing, the first installation is impressive, but also kind of sad to see books decaying in the second one.

    The architecture library at the TUdelft is another good example of using books, on a smaller scale, have a look.

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