Have Printed Books Been Relegated to Ancient History?
It was a relatively overcast day, with temperatures above average in the city hosting the 2012 Olympics. People paraded in greens, blues, yellows and reds, waving country flags indicating the patriotism that is especially poignant during any Olympics games. Dressed in the colours Green, Gold, and Black, I paraded along the Southbank enjoying the smells from hot dog stands and picnic areas donned with Mojitos. A guide suggested a visit to the Southbank Centre.
On entering people buzzed with excitement seemingly in 'culture paradise' with the 10s of choices for artistic stimulation. I turned a corner and in the midst of the revere there they were, these books!
A group of visitors approached the display, made funny faces, and walked with flashing hands, signalling their boredom with the concept. I decided however, that this pile of books, 250,000 to be exact, designed in the form of a labyrinth by Brazillian artists Gualter Pupo and Marcos Saboya was actually quite intriguing. I journeyed in.
The Labyrinth of books was a part of the exhibition titled aMAZEme. The design was made to be interactive, allowing anyone to borrow books from the structure and return them when finished. The books new and used were randomly stacked, and this allowed coincidence in material choice. This arrangement presented a stark contrast to the organisation characteristic of a traditional library space and was more in keeping with how we now access information in many of our online social spaces.
Books in printed form, are in many ways a dying phenomenon with the emergence of online publications and tools such as the Kindle which allow you to access your library once you are connected to the internet, anytime anyplace. In many ways books are making the transition from everyday use to studies of history and material for museums. Is this the future? I wondered.
People were mulling around, lounging, flipping through pages and I wondered if the artist had considered encouraging his visitors to add books from their own libraries to this collection.
aMAZEme will be on display until August 25th at The Southbank Centre in London, England as a part of the many artworks and installations at this year’s London Olympics.