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Screen life and shelf life: critical vocabularies for digital-to-print artists’ publications

  • David Senior (a1) and Sarah Hamerman (a2)

The Library of the Museum of Modern Art in New York has been an institution of record for artists' publications for the last forty years. Through its artists' books collection, the library has traced the various ways in which artists have used printed matter as an integral aspect of their practice. In the present context, as publishing now takes place in digital spheres of social media, personal websites and email correspondence as well as in print, the library must constantly reconsider how it “collects” across these media. The surprise of our current context is the degree that digital networks, image exchange, etc. are feeding into an increased output of printed artists’ books, magazines and little architecture and design publications. Such web-to-print artists’ books can be considered ‘hybrid’ publications that exist between online and offline spaces. Following Paul Soulellis, we argue that these artists ‘perform publishing’ by investigating multiple materialities and design possibilities as their works travel through the network. We situate web-to-print artists’ publishing in a historical context while offering a vocabulary for the new ways that artists are activating and appropriating, screen-grabbing and searching, the mass of verbal and visual information on the Internet. Notable web-to-print publications by Dexter Sinister, Paul Soulellis, Sabrina Fernandez Casas, David Horvitz and others illuminate the aesthetics and tactics of this genre. Finally, we propose that collaborations between art librarians and web archivists might adequately preserve these hybrid works.

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1. Lissitzky, El. “Topography of typography.” Edited by Schwitters, Kurt. Merz, no. 4 (1923): 47.

2. The Apple History Channel. “Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Speech 2005”. Filmed [June 2005]. YouTube video, 14:33. Posted [March 2006].

3. Kione Kochi. Artists’ Books Fruit Diagram Poster. Chicago, IL: Temporary Services, 2015.

4. Florian Cramer. “Afterword.” In Post-Digital Print: The Mutation of Publishing Since 1894, by Alessandro Ludovico, 163. Eindhoven: Onomatopee, 2012.

5. Paul Soulellis. “Performing Publishing: Infrathin Tales from the Printed Web.” Printed Web. April 14, 2015. Accessed February 28, 2016., talks. From presentation delivered at Interrupt, Brown University, 2015.

6. David Reinfurt and Stuart Bailey. “The Serving Library.” The Serving Library. Accessed February 28, 2016.

7. Dexter Sinister. Bulletins of the Serving Library. New York: Sternberg Press, 2011–2016.

8. Paul Soulellis. Printed Web Nos. 1–3. New York: Paul Soulellis, 2014–2015.

9. Paul Soulellis. “Interview with Sarah Hamerman and David Senior.” Interview by Sarah Hamerman and David Senior. February 27, 2016. Email Interview.

10. Paul Soulellis. “Search, Compile, Publish.” Soulellis. May 23, 2013. Accessed February 28, 2016.

11. Hito Steyerl. “Too Much World: Is the Internet Dead?” E-flux Journal No. 49. November 1, 2013. Accessed December 2015.

12. Soulellis, “Performing Publishing.”

13. Soulellis, “Interview with Sarah Hamerman and David Senior.”

14. Soulellis, “Search, Compile, Publish.”

15. Sabrina Fernandez Casas. ECCE HOMO. Geneva: Sabrina Fernandez Casas, 2013–2014.

16. Hito Steyerl. “In Defense of the Poor Image.” In The Wretched of the Screen, 32. Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2012.

17. Cory Arcangel. Working On My Novel. Penguin Books, 2014.

18. Cory Arcangel. “Working on My Novel: Cory Arcangel.” Cory Arcangel. Accessed February 28, 2016.

19. Soulellis, “Search, Compile, Publish.”

20. Henner, Mishka. Dutch Landscapes. Mishka Henner, 2011.

21. “Dutch Landscapes.” Mishka Henner. 2011. Accessed February 28, 2016.

22. Andrew Norman Wilson. ScanOps. Toronto, Ont.: Art Metropole, 2014.

23. Soulellis, “Search, Compile, Publish.”

24. David Horvitz. A Wikipedia Reader. (New York: David Horvitz, 2009): 1.

25. David Horvitz. Sad, Depressed, People. Los Angeles: New Documents, 2012.

26. David Horvitz. Mood Disorder. Berlin: Motto Books; Chert, 2015.

27. Michael Connor. “What Is Digital Social Memory?” Rhizome. February 18, 2016. Accessed February 28, 2016.

28. “Paper Rad.” Rhizome ArtBase. Accessed February 28, 2016.

29. ‘Poor media’ is Lorusso's spin on Steyerl's concept of the ‘poor image,’ focusing on non-proprietary, text-centric formats like .PDF and .epub that circulate easily online.

30. Silvio Lorusso. “In Defense of Poor Media.” In Printed_Web_3.pdf, edited by Paul Soulellis, 72. New York: Paul Soulellis, 2015.

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Art Libraries Journal
  • ISSN: 0307-4722
  • EISSN: 2059-7525
  • URL: /core/journals/art-libraries-journal
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