Our former bookleteer blogger, Karen Martin, wrote about the effects of using different types of paper when printing eBooks in a previous post, “Paper Selection“, but having just rediscovered a few examples, I thought I’d share them with you again.
Carmen Vela Maldonado created these lovely eBooks by experimenting with different coloured paper and card, as well as cutting out parts and using scanned scraps of paper as backgrounds. So much more impressive then using standard paper, they add a whole new dimension of texture and depth, engaging the reader on a higher level. “A Manifesto for Black Urbanism” by Paul Goodwin, which uses black ink on black card and faint images of urban environments printed onto tracing paper, looks stunning. The map overlays used in “Dusk”, by Saki, also work really well – visual place-marks to a tale defined by its location and references to surrounding areas.
Tim Wright joined Giles and I for our second City As Material outside of London on Tuesday, as we took a trip to Norwich, where Tim spent his early years.
The train from London seemed distinctly commuter-free compared to our journey to Bristol, with only a handful of people in our carriage. We bagged table seats, and sat down to some much needed coffee, battling against the dreary weather outside. Mucky, sepia-tinted windows gave the landscape outside a grainy, nostalgic vibe, the perfect accompaniment to tales of Tim’s childhood in Norwich.
Arriving there, after setting up the GPS tracker and sound recorder Tim had brought, we walked down the main stretch of tacky nightclubs and kebab joints, possibly not the best introduction to the city. However, we soon spied Norwich castle, a curious structure, almost too uniform and perfect considering it dates from the 11th century. Tim said it looked like a fairy-tale castle, a manifestation of the first thing you’d see when you heard the word “castle”. Next to it, a space-age cylindrical lift ferried visitors to and from the lower levels – a bizarre combination.
We descended to the city centre, passing the market, towards Elm Hill, a historic cobbled lane with houses and shops dating from the Tudor period. This amazing street is home to the Strangers Club, set up to entertain those from outside Norwich, and where Tim’s father regularly took him to lunch. I couldn’t resist a peek through a lofty window, and was greeted with the sight of a woman carrying flagons from the kitchen, hastily ducking before she noticed. Further up, the window of an antique and curiosity shop in a side court displayed Crowley-esque goat horns and all manner of surreal exhibits.
After passing through the beautiful cathedral and it’s ornate cloisters (and a hilarious sign outside which read “We apologise for the untidy appearance of these ruins”), we popped into the Writer’s Centre, recruiting Chris Gribble briefly as our tour guide. He mentioned that Norwich was barely affected by the industrial revolution, apparent in the structures pre-dating it which are so common. We cut through the shopping centre, past the cinema where Tim first saw Star Wars, and arrived by a huge derelict building adorned with a giant graffiti mural; originally zoned for development, but now a victim of the property crash. A dystopian counterpart to the medieval niches of the city.
Before departing, Chris recommended The Window, the “world’s smallest coffee shop” (appropriately next to the “UK’s best pizza and kebab” shop – a dubious claim). After lunch in the refreshingly different Cinema City dining rooms (housed in a building where parts date back the the 14th century, yet the courtyard is sheltered by a modern glass roof), we stopped by. It resembles a tiny kitchen, with only a small bench and a chair or two to perch on, but has a great atmosphere. We chatted with the owner and several locals, and left with the after-glow of a dynamic and friendly venture trailing behind. Tim’s previous statement that nothing much had changed since he left, and that the pulse of the city was definitely on the slow side, had a small, yet charming, contender.
All day we had noticed plaques underneath various street signs, some with slightly vague origins; the phrases “may have been named because” and “could be” were used an awful lot. Paired with peculiar names, such as “Rampant Horse Street” and “Tombland”, these gave us the idea of perhaps creating some Storycubes with street-sign images, and fictional explanations on the other side, which could be fun. We were also interested in using GPS data and sound recordings from the day for an eBook output, particularly Tim’s childhood memories, and the peaks and lulls in conversations when passing through certain areas, so that we could contrast the physical experiences with raw data, examining the correlations and disparities. We’ll be starting work on those soon, so keep an eye out on Diffusion.
I thought I’d share this, courtesy of the chaps at It’s Nice That. Peter Crawley stitches illustrations into watercolour paper with a pin, needle and cotton thread; the elaborate images and precise lines look more like a digital printout than embroidery. His architectural illustrations are stunning, even more so when you take a closer look at their humble stitch makings. Take a look at “Architectural Reflections”, where the thread has been left dangling under the image to depict what look like roots under the earth. This combination of almost photo realistic imagery with the evidence of its handcrafted origins, integral to the concept of the piece, demonstrates the extraordinary capabilities and visual effects possible from paper and crafted works – comforting in this era of rapidly developing digital mediums.
Giles posted about our upcoming Pitch Up & Publish workshops for 2011 last week – we’ve just confirmed the dates, and the Eventbrite page is now live. The sessions are taking place on:
Tuesday 22nd March 2011, 12.00 pm – 2.00 pm
Tuesday 12th April 2011, 12.00 pm – 2.00 pm
Tuesday 26th April 2011, 12.00 pm – 2.00 pm
4th Floor 101 Turnmill Street
EC1M 5QP London
A series of workshops to help you make the most of bookleteer : guiding you from concept to publication and beyond. The 2 hour workshops will be held at our studio every 2-3 weeks and will have a maximum of 6 places. We will help beginners get started and offer more advanced users a collaborative space in which to explore new uses and ideas, sharing our knowledge and experiences.
The sessions will cover everything from basic level introduction to specific topics – such as designing project notebooks, embedding multimedia links via QR codes and preparing books for printing via our Short Run Printing Service. We also plan to run specific themed workshops to share our experiences and methods of using bookleteer to work with kids in schools, with community groups and in other more specialist settings.
Time for me to feature some staggering artwork from illustrator Helen Vine now, taken from her zine “TREASURE”. A 15 page, saddle-stitched, illustration / photography zine inspired by “cemeteries and taxidermy museums”. Thankfully I share this slightly morbid fascination towards various creatures of the rigor mortis persuasion. Her work is amazingly intricate and captures the beautiful patterns and textures of natural geometry found in animals – it’s mesmerising. I was so engrossed in the cover, I didn’t notice at first glance what appears to be a flamingo made out of leaves, subtly camouflaged amongst the other birds, or the wood-grain effect beak of some unknown majestic creature, one weary eye peeking out.
You can view a preview here. To get a copy (assuming she hasn’t run out, which wouldn’t surprise me) e-mail her at email@example.com.
Another gem which has been featured on www.fastcodesign.com, and something my brain is still trying to recover from. Created by Michael Hansmeyer, and constructed from 2700 laser cut sheets of cardboard with wooden cores, these columns were spawned by an algorithm fed into a computer, forming “computational architecture”, with up to 16 MILLION facets. It’s absolutely staggering. After being cut out, the sheets left behind form a negative, empty-space column. The image of this is unreal; it looks like the hallucinatory imaginings of an alien spacecraft, mechanical yet almost organic, something that wouldn’t be out of place from the trippy sequences in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Blow your mind here.
We’re starting a new regular series of Pitch Up & Publish workshops to help people get started and make the most use out of bookleteer as possible : guiding them from concept to publication and beyond. The 2 hour workshops will be held at our studio, will have a maximum of around 6 places and will probably be held every 2-3 weeks.
We’d like to hear what sort of things you’d like help with: from basic level introduction to specific topics – such as designing project notebooks, embedding multimedia links via QR codes and preparing books for printing via our Short Run Printing Service. If there’s interest we can run specific workshops aimed at transferring our experiences of working with kids in schools to use bookleteer, or with other community groups.
Each workshop place will cost about £20 (UKP) and will include complimentary Alpha Club membership, discount on Short Run Printing Service orders and a free pack of new Medium size StoryCubes. You’ll be able to book places online via eventbrite.
We’d also like to hear whether people would prefer the sessions to be run during the day or evening – we may alternate if it helps more people take part.
Please contribute with your suggestions and requests – we’d like these sessions to be as useful and focused on your needs as possible. You can post comments here, or add them to the discussion on Facebook.
The other week I mentioned an impromptu City As Material expedition with Mandy and Radhika, to Victoria and Waterloo stations. Despite it being FREEZING, we captured some interesting moments (fingers glove-bound) from the trip. I found just being still and observing whilst people whizzed about, quite relaxing, and it inspired a completely different way of seeing and thinking that is neglected when we’re commuting. It also a chance to watch people who were waiting for trains, their quirky mannerisms and subtle interactions with others becoming more apparent as time went by.
In the studio the day after, I assembled a quick eBook from Mandy’s sketches, Radhika’s photographs, and my writing. Designed to showcase a selection of the material created on the day, it’ll be hosted on Diffusion soon with our other efforts.
Tomorrow we’re journeying to the British Museum for more observations, comparing the contrasting locations and further developing what form these trips will take. I’ll probably be Tweeting some snippets of stuff as we’re doing it, so follow bookleteer on Twitter for a peek.
Back in September Frederik posted a case study of Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination‘s use of bookleteer. They’ve continued using it as a creative and documentary resource, and in doing so have created a Library of Traces – a series of eBooks which enable both participants in their professional development workshops, and others, to follow the traces of their experiences and share reflections and observations.
To help CCI widen the audience for their work we’ve posted 7 eBooks on our diffusion.org.uk library and will be making others available there as they are created. All are welcome to download and share eBooks from the Library of Traces.
In the next few weeks we’ll be printing up a limited edition set (50 copies) of all 10 eBooks through our PPOD service and are currently designing a special slipcase to hold them. The slipcases are also being designed as templates which we’ll incorporate into bookleteer later this year as an option for people to customise and create their own. We think they will offer a convenient way to organise or collect your own Diffusion eBooks. As with the other shareables, the slipcases will be designed so that they can be printed out and made up by hand (using an A3 printer/sheet size).
We’ll be hosting an event to launch the limited edition City As Material set this Spring – look out for updates on the date and venue.