This week we feature four photographic projects that attend to the topic of books and permanence. These artists diversely explore how the paper book is lent to considering the disappearance of lifeways, the degradation of material, the discarding of once-evocative objects, and their replacement with imperfect machines.
I came across this incredible photo project in the ANP Quarterly’s interview with James Bridle about New Aesthetic, and I’m so glad I did. In 56 Broken Kindle Screens, artists Sebastian Schmieg and Silvio Lorusso meditate on the alluring aesthetic that emerges when the E-Ink displays in our e-readers break. Stuck between pages, these Kindles accidentally deliver fugitive reminders of the material bases of our virtual world.
In their print-on-demand photobook, we see a parade of striking images that expose a moment on the threshold. These glitches are actually kind of lovely, and speak to an interstitial experience that we instantly understand as users of imperfect technology. But Schmieg and Lorusso aren’t necessarily villainizing e-readers as the harbinger of a trash-tech world, a sobriety indicated by their cool conceptual art title. In fact, if you get the Kindle version (yes, there’s a Kindle version) of their book, you may find yourself amused to wonder if your Kindle screen is broken much in the way that people screamed and threw shoes at television screens during exterminator commercials on TV. It’s this wonderful play between the material and the virtual that enlivens their project.
Even more intriguing is the wickedly intelligent use of ad styling of the images shared here. An optimistic white background frames the Kindle and manicured hands demo its (mis)use. A young girl smiles while (not) reading. And finally, standing proudly before a stack of dusty old books is the broken screen in all its glory. Enjoy.
About 56 Broken Kindle Screens
56 Broken Kindle Screens is a print-on-demand paperback that consists of found photos depicting broken kindle screens. The Kindle is Amazon’s e-reading device which is by default connected to the company’s book store. The book takes as its starting point the peculiar aesthetic of broken E Ink displays and serves as an examination into the reading device’s materiality. As the screens break, they become collages composed of different pages, cover images, and interface elements.
View more images from the series and a video of the Kindle edition here.
About Sebastian Schmieg (b. 1983)
Sebastian works with found materials and custom software to create pieces that examine the way contemporary technologies shape online and offline realities. Recent projects include Search by Image and Networked Optimization (together with Silvio Lorusso). Previously his work has been exhibited at Bitforms Gallery, New York, USA; FILE, Sao Paulo, Brazil; 319 Scholes, New York, USA; and Pixelache, Helsinki, Finland.
About Silvio Lorusso
Silvio is an Italian artist and designer. As PhD candidate in Design Sciences at Iuav University of Venice, he investigates the intersections between publishing and digital technology from the perspective of art and design.