Date:2 juni 2012

    Posted in publication, 12th of July, 2012


    Book launch & Post-Digital Print Conference
    Alessandra Saviotti

    Collaboration is better than competition, this could be the motto for Alessandro Ludovico’s work during his residency programm between Baltan Laboratories and Onomatopee in Eindhoven.

    Book launch & Post-Digital Print ConferenceBook launch & Post-Digital Print Conference
    Book launch & Post-Digital Print ConferenceBook launch & Post-Digital Print Conference

    As Alessandro Ludovico constantly said at the workshop with local students, during the Post-Digital Conference and to other people who visited the events in Onomatopee, his project is not about books or publishing; it is a social project.

    The nature of the places involved in the project, Baltan Laboratories and Onomatopee, is hybrid: the first is between art and science, the second works through art, design and publishing, but both are founded on the constant cooperation of people with different backgrounds.

    Developed in Eindhoven, the project is the result of the collaboration of many design students who helped Ludovico build the “Do It Yourself” Scan machine. The scan is composed of a simple wood structure to support the book, a lamp to correct the light reflection, a Plexiglas cover to steady the pages, and a digital camera directly connected to a computer. The process is very simple and in less than five minutes you will be able to have your favorite or rare book digitalized and ready to share. Indeed, the aim of Ludovico’s  entire work is sharing, networking and re-inventing processes to build new realities and new projects using the web as the new space of production.

    So, why did he choose to work with books, the last touchable medium tools that remain resistant to complete disappearance? The answer is clearly described in the brand new book “Post-Digital Print. The mutation of Publishing since 1894” presented during the final conference on the 2nd of June.  Quoting the author “Probably because it still comes with the very best interface ever designed”, and I strongly agree. Moreover, the paper is not only the medium or a carrier as could be a DVD, a VHS or a CD; it is the display itself.

    Ludovico’s decision to organize a conference to present his book is perfectly in line with his networking-based methodology. He asked for a re-read of his publication by inviting different speakers for each chapter according to their different expertise.  What I found very revealing was how the different presenters were all deeply connected to each other – in a sort of digital parallel world – , even if coming from different backgrounds and bringing to the table different experiences, skills and opinions on the topic.

    The first chapter, “The death of paper (which never happened)”, was introduced by Ludovico himself. He presented an historical perspective on seven particularly representative cases that occurred during the last century through today, while underlining that any new medium always claims to be better than the old one. Is that true?

    The second chapter,“A history of alternative publishing reflecting the evolution of print”, was presented by Florian Cramer, Course Director Media Design M.A. at the Piet Zwart Institute, Willem de Kooning Academy Hogeschool Rotterdam and a board member of WORM. He is a researcher in comparative literature and aesthetics, a writer and activist in the field of computer culture and free software in relation to experimental arts.

    The third chapter, “The mutation of paper: material paper in immaterial times”, was assigned to Marcel Mars, who defined himself as an advanced Internet user. He is currently resident at the Jan Van Eyck Academie in Maastricht with a project that analyzes the business strategies, vision, corporate missions of Google, Facebook, Amazon and eBay (GFAeB), and the way these firms design technical infrastructure, create rules governing users’ access to data and services, and appropriate counter-cultural values and identities.

    Simon Worthington spoke about the Fourth Chapter, “The end of paper: can anything actually replace the printed page?”. Worthington is the founder of Mute an online magazine dedicated to exploring culture and politics after the net. As we can read on the website “the magazine was founded in 1994 to discuss the interrelationship of art and new technologies when the World Wide Web was new born”.

    The Fifth Chapter, “Distributed archives: paper content from the past, paper content for the future”, was presented by Dušan Barok, an artist and cultural activist involved in critical practice in the fields of software, art, and theory.

    Nat Muller closed the conference presenting the last chapter, “The network: transforming culture, transforming publishing”.  She is an independent curator and critic based in Rotterdam and the Middle East. Her main interests include the intersections of aesthetics, media and politics, and media art and contemporary art in and from the Middle East.

    Ludovico did not write a book just to read. “Post-digital print” is a tool with which anyone can identify and read while thinking about the relationship they have with the act of reading itself.

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