New Romance: Art and The Posthuman

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Digital Book Project (2016)

Arian Kang

People do say you should never judge a book by its cover, but what else can you do when you have nothing but the cover actually there?

From floppy disks to “the cloud” it cannot be denied that the world has certainly made some drastic changes to the way we view and read information in the twenty first century.

Books are no exception.

In the physical world, the knowledge in a book is quite literally encased, and there is a sense of the organic as you can pick it right off a shelf without having to wait for a machine to boot up and waste electricity. Being a tactile person, I have always enjoyed the feel of paper pages under my fingers. However, in Arian Kang’s sculptural work The Digital Book Project, that immediate sense of touch has been denied, making it one of the more vexing artworks I’ve viewed in the New Romance exhibition.

In both the stack of digital books and the sculptured shelves, all of the books presented are in fact hollow, with only the cover to show their meaning or intended value, not unlike how a digital book would be viewed through online stores. This when coupled with the ever-changing colourful LED lights gave me the impression that I wasn’t looking at a wall of books but merely a colourful billboard in which the objects are only ever superficial and symbolic, rather than functional.

Rather like much of what we see on the internet.

— Jess Unwalla

 

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