ANATOMY OF DESIGN
As new media collide, resulting in hybrid forms, one of the oldest and most
venerated is undergoing transformations aimed at making it more relevant in a
digitally saturated world. Although conventional book production has not changed
much since 1455, when Gutenberg created his 42-line Mainz Bible, book
designers have nonetheless long been engaged in testing formats and materials.
With the tidal shift away from print to consumption of all things digital, basic
book manufacture is being intensely challenged. Therefore, one reason for today's
surge in experimentation may be to prove once again (because experimentation
seems to occur every time “the end of print” is near) that books are not
antiquated objects from a pre-techno era, and another is to entice readers who
are indeed receiving the mass of their information on the Internet to return to
the pleasures of turning the printed page. Books are not dead. But today they
are routinely repackaged to attract new readers—either as multimedia reliquaries
of information or, with bells and whistles, as venues for entertainment.
In the quest for eternal relevance, books (or three-dimensional booklike
objects) seek increased permanence by enticingly gussying up their containers.
A cover, for example, needn't be solely cardboard or paper over boards; now
printers offer molded plastic, rubber, velvet, Astroturf, and most recently,
sponge, among the common new coverings. Soft and pliable, synthetic
spongelike surfaces serve the primary function of protecting pages while adding
a layer of playful tactility. Given how often sponge (and other congealed molded
foams) has been used of late, it might be considered the signature material of
the new millennium, at least in some publishing circles. Certainly the 2004
Motion Blur, produced by Onedotzero, a London-based multimedia design firm and
digital entrepreneur, is one of many twenty-first-century books to use sponge's
resilient properties to advantage.
As a survey of moving digital images—film, TV, animation, and special
effects as well as cross-media image makers—and their respective impacts on
Motion Blur throws down the gauntlet for a distinct challenge: to
imbue an otherwise static object with kinetic qualities. To this end, it borrows
from contemporary bookmakers by employing unconventional materials, complex
printing techniques, and multiple content components. Included in this package
Motion Blur is more than a mere book) is a DVD featuring two hours of
music videos, personal shorts, TV identities, title sequences, and commercials,
as well as a conventional book/catalog that fits smartly and sensually into the
smooth sponge slipcase.
The notion of cramming gobs of related and disparate material into a
book is not, however, unique to the Digital Age but evolves directly from the
livre d'artiste. One of the most notable and influential of
these artist's books, and perhaps a precursor to Motion Blur, is Marcel Duchamp's
1934 Green Box, a lavish limited-edition portfolio containing carefully reproduced
facsimiles of notes and diagrams for his installation, Large Glass, considered a
seminal artwork of the century. The Green Box is an ersatz book that has
influenced generations of book designers to rethink the traditional book's strict
parameters. But even this artifact is not the holiest grail of book-objects: Placing
ancillary materials between covers dates to personal scrapbooks of the
eighteenth and nineteenth century and subsequently has become a frequent
Motion Blur is a sophisticated scrapbook of digital matter.
Apart from the utter tactility of the package, Motion Blur includes
transparent typographic windows produced by laser cutting the title into the
sponge. This feat is a means of simulating motion; when the book and DVD are
pulled from the sponge slipcase, they flash through the lettering, creating a
kind of blur. In the parlance of the digital world, blurring images and
letterforms is an effective way to suggest motion—and it dates to the beginning
of the Machine Age. In his 1912 painting
Nude Descending a Staircase, Duchamp
was attempting to capture the sensation of motion on canvas through the blur
of his cubistic/abstract female figure. The Futurist painters, concerned with
simulating Machine Age dynamism, also used the blur as a symbol of progress.
For most of the twentieth century, typographers and photographers created
static blurs as indictors of forward movement and thinking—that is, speed.
Today, even the word blur, rather than meaning unfocused, implies the fast
pace of converging visual media.
Motion Blur: Graphic Moving Image Makers
2004 Motion Blur: Graphic Moving Image Makers, book
Included in this package (for Motion Blur is more than a mere book) is a DVD featuring two
hours of music videos, personal shorts, TV identities, title sequences, and commercials, as
well as a conventional book/catalog that fits smartly and sensually into the smooth
Innovative book cases
Holding many items together
Creating color motion
Creating image motion