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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