End note. Artists' Books as Future / Digital Object?

In the last paragraph of his catalogue essay, Jack Ginsberg refers to the death of information in book form. It is not desirable to buy a full edition of an encyclopaedia (after all where are you going to put it!) when a more interactive CD-ROM-form of information retrieval exists on a piece of plastic 120mm in diameter by 1mm thick! The cost of sophisticated hardware, access to the Internet and a range of encyclopaedic CDs is far less than that paper edition of the encyclopaedia. The book arts are however, as Jack points out, in their infancy and will be with us for many years to come.

The last bay of the exhibition compares two forms of the Artist’s Book: Willem Boshoff’s 370 Day Project (Cat: 170) and Michele Sohn’s codex (Cat: 211). Boshoff’s work is a book and is exhibited in its closed form, last seen publicly, over a decade ago. Each block of wood is a page, each encoded sign a signifier of words and meaning. As in Bangboek (Cat: 169), knowledge of the content is forbidden and 370 Day Project remains possibly one of the finest and most artistically pertinent personal and auratic books ever made by a South African.

In Sohn’s codex, three isolated computer monitors look down on the viewer; the centre monitor is blank with changing images and texts moving silently within the screen space of the outer pair. In this work, Sohn attempts a number of things: a questioning of our expectations of what a book is; a meditation on the silent mutability of content and where exactly this content resides, and a critique of the alienation which technology often imposes.