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The Future of the Book

Today I read a blog post by author Sam Harris titled The Future of the Book.

“Writers, artists, and public intellectuals are nearing some sort of precipice: Their audiences increasingly expect digital content to be free…Where publishing is concerned, the Internet is both midwife and executioner. It has never been easier to reach large numbers of readers, but these readers have never felt more entitled to be informed and entertained for free.”

While the article focuses largely on the financial and sales impact of the Internet on the publishing industry, it was the title that made me read it. I am intrigued that over my life time, the primary information medium of print – be it books, newspapers or magazines – has been overtaken by pixels on a screen. Digital is often cheaper to produce and more immediately accessible, but can’t be handled like a paper book.

In the past, the printed word in books has been culturally elevated to a cannon of societal truth, but as information changes so rapidly, the production time-frame of print is not longer compatible with the rate of knowledge. Books seem to be passing into decorative curiosity and a nostalgic artifact.

This is perhaps the ideal space for the artist to reclaim the book, when others turn to the digital space of blogs and Kindle. It is an opportunity to share and keep and also places this project in an interesting space: artists using the internet to birth a book.

Yolunda Hickman



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Notional Geography

“What is on the paper map is a representation of what was in the retinal representation of the man who made the map; and as you push the question back, what you find is an infinite regress, an infinite series of maps.”

Gregory Bateson, in “Form, Substance and Difference,” from Steps to an Ecology of Mind (1972)

An atlas is a visual depiction of knowledge: a gathering of geographical information compiled and collated to bring before our eyes, in a systematic way, a whole multiplicity of spaces gathered into a single volume.

To make an atlas is to reconfigure space, to redistribute it, to redirect it: to dismantle it where we thought it was continuous; to reunite it where we thought there were boundaries. Bold red lines draw borders across a page, dividing a paper space based either on features of the corresponding actual landscape space or an arbitrary human imposition.

In December 2001, I visited the United States for the first time. We spent New Years at the Ogilby Sand Dunes just outside of Yuma in the Algodones Dunes area, which sit on the border of Arizona, California and Mexico. At midnight we welcomed in the New Year with the usual fanfare and then went to bed. Laying in the RV trying to get to sleep at 1am, the California New Year celebrations from the camp site next door started, delayed because of the different Daylight Savings timezone. On one side of the line we celebrated the New Year an hour earlier than the neighbors barely 300m away. I could see the flashes of their fireworks on the inside of my closed eyelids.

The next morning we rode quad bikes out to the US – Mexican border. At that time, it was marked with a stone obelisk in the middle of the sand dunes (similar to this). The especially consequential red line on the map was denoted by a singular point in an otherwise continuous stretch of sand. Now, a large barrier fence runs the length of the sand dunes, clearly imposing the human line on the landscape space.

I have been working with the idea of borders and edges in relation to maps and actual landscape for over a year which has resulted in a number of paper constructions. The unresolved incarnation pictured above is tentatively titled Globe. Pages from a 1970’s Readers Digest Atlas have been geometrically divided and then reconstructed using Magnus Wenninger’s polyhedron and dual models. The dismantling and reassembling process  returns a flat mapped paper landscape to its original three dimensional form, creating a new space lapse in the translation. The Bay of Biscay now borders the Gulf of Alaska to build a new body of water; a man-made sea on a man-made globe. The two areas are 8104 km apart as the crow flies, but in Globe they are neighbours. They sit side by side and fold away from each other and then back towards another notional geography.

Yolunda Hickman

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wall animals

these are the backing papers from animal i have cut out for drawings. they have been stuck to my wall for a while. the u-tac has soaked into the paper a bit so you can see the lump behind. they remind me of the ‘wait and see’ thought in that the information is missing, or alluded to. they are sort of empty, or maybe marker for something. though maybe that is only because i know they are sticker-backs that point to a whole lot of information existing elsewhere. i like the way the hold a sort of informationless  space.

i tried scanning one as well, maybe it is a bit sanitised.


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