Volumes of Character
The past and future of the printed book
November 12, 2011, 2pm – 5pm
The Linenhall Arts Centre will host a one-day symposium on the 12th November 2011, to discuss the past and future of the printed book, to accompany the exhibition Volumes of Character – trading types and the art of the printed book , which runs from Friday 4th to Saturday 26th November. This exhibition, curated by John Mulloy and Fergus Kelly, features books from various private collections in the West of Ireland. The theme is the idea of the book as an object that make ideas visible using words, typographic style, illustrations, paper and binding, and therefore, rather than separating one aspect from the other – ideas from the physical text, content from form – they are looked at together. This reflects the historical transition of the printed book from being the primary medium of communication and an object of beauty in its own right, to becoming a concept and finally a form of art, at a time when its dominant position in Western culture looks to be in serious decline. In recent years, with the rise of electronic publishing, many people have theorised that a new relationship between image and text is emerging, and that there has been a fundamental shift from words to pictures. Is this the death of the book as we know it or a new and exciting chapter in a 600-year story?
The symposium will be chaired by one of the curators, Dr John Mulloy, a lecturer in art history and critical theory in GMIT, who will also introduce some of the themes of the exhibition.
Dr Elizabeth Tilley of the English Department at NUIG will discuss the golden age of the Irish publishing trade in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, a time when print was unquestionably the dominant medium for the dissemination of ideas. Issues that are of increasing concern today, such a intellectual property rights in a new medium, were faced then in the struggle against ‘piratical’ publishers.
Catherine Twibill, Digital Expert at ePubdirect.com and formerly graphic designer at Cork’s award-winning Mercier Press will discuss the ongoing and rapid changes in publishing worldwide. Drawing on her rich experience of designing traditional printed books – including one which was gifted by the Irish government to Barack Obama – she will discuss changes in the industry, from the graphic design and typography of printed books to the advances in electronic publishing and distribution for Kindle, iPad and more.
Sioban Piercy, a well-known book artist and lecturer in the Print Department at GMIT will introduce fine art printing techniques, both those used historically as well as contemporary approaches. Based on her own long experience as a practitioner, she will also explore the idea of the book as an art form.
A book fair in the Linenhall foyer to accompany the symposium will also be held.