Book That Destroys Itself While Being Read

Alison Flood, “Artists Create Book That Turns Black As It is Read,” The Guardian 8 September 2014

It’s not how one would usually want to read: artist Camille Leproust and collaborator Andres Ayerbe have created a book printed on thermal paper, which heats and slowly blackens as it is read, giving the reader around four hours to finish before the text fades completely into black.

Leproust’s project will be part of an exhibition opening later this month at the London Art Book Fair. Nine artists have been commissioned to investigate “the future possibilities of the book as a printed object” and to “push the boundaries of how books can be experienced”. Her art work, in which the poem Anastylosis by Alissa Valles will disappear into blackness, will sit alongside a version of TS Eliot’s poem The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock which the poet is unlikely to have ever foreseen.

…Leproust said that her own artwork stems from discussions “about the value of the book as an object in itself regardless of its contents, how the very activity of reading transforms it: how the marks and traces of our engagement with the book render the mass-produced object something unique and personal”.

“From this conceptual groundwork we came up with the idea of a book that destroys itself while being read — an effect achieved with a combination of thermal paper and heat,” she said. “While there were a variety of inks and chemicals that we could have used to make the text disappear, we really liked the aesthetics and some of the conceptual implications of having the book slowly burn out.” …

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