Archives for posts with tag: printed matter

Voyeurism is a term we use loosely here, more referring to human curiosity than anything perverse in nature. But it seems to be the best way to describe the work of Dutch documentary photographer Reinier Gerritsen in his series The Last Book. Over the course of three years, Gerritsen trolled the New York City subway system, observing and documenting the printed matter commuters were reading. With the decline of physical books in favor of digital media, his original intention was to chronicle the waning days of traditional publishing: “Conceived as an elegy to the end of bound books, in a positive twist it has now become evident that people are moving away from electronic reading devices and that the printed book is alive and well!” With the rigor of a sociological experiment, Gerritsen catalogued hundreds of photos on his website by author’s last name. “It began as a series of modest observations and transformed into a collection of vivid documentary portraits, set against a visual landscape of best sellers, classics, romance novels, detective thrillers and every kind of printed book, as diverse as the readers.” Gerritsen took note of patterns, observing that Suzanne Collins, James Patterson and J.K. Rowling were among the most popular authors of choice. This project was eventually published into a beautiful bound book itself (available here), and Gerritsen even headed back underground to photograph commuters with their e-readers for his own digital publication, an app called The Last Book Revisited (available here).

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Los Angeles-based contemporary artist Ed Ruscha (pronounced roo-SHAY) has a thing for books. And we’re not referring to literature itself, but actual physical books (he claims not to even be a great reader). Ruscha is not taken with the digital reading revolution as of late. He doesn’t read on an iPad or Kindle; he doesn’t even use a computer. From early in his career, Ruscha has always sort of seen printed matter as sculptural objects, as works of art in and of themselves. His early appreciation for commercial design and typography set the stage for his fascination of books and how to make them. Since then, Ruscha has produced and painted countless books, many of which are currently on display at New York’s Gagosian Gallery show Books & Co. (read more here), along with work by more than 100 contemporary artists inspired by him.

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