Co.Design

Book Filled With Data Art Renews Itself With Each New Printing [Video]

Written Images, a fascinating art project and Kickstarter campaign, marries digital tech and print into gorgeous one-off books.

One of the silliest things about all the hand-wringing over the death of print is the idea that there's some unbridgeable divide between physical books and digital technology, that the latter exists solely to destroy the former. In reality, they can work beautifully together.

So suggests Written Images, a trailblazing book project by Martin Fuchs, Peter Bichsel, and others. The project uses generative-art apps by some of the top figures in the field to produce one-of-a-kind hard copy editions -- proof that, with a dash of creativity, digital tools can actually raise the value of the print experience.

Written Images is still in the pre-production phase, but the ultimate result will be a limited series of books featuring output from 42 image-generating software programs, all made by crack digital artists, from Golan Levin to Nervous System. The programs will spit out different images for each book, so that no two books will be exactly the same. Buy a copy, then, and what you end up with is both a collection of gorgeous generative art (complete with an intro by techie high priest Bruce Sterling) and something that's itself a work of generative art.

Pretty cool, right? Makes us wonder where else you could apply algorithms in the publishing industry to create not just books you toss after one read, but artifacts. (As we've detailed before, a big key to the survival of print is innovative design like this.)

The drawback: The books are really frickin? expensive. You can pre-order 'em through Kickstarter for $200 ($350 if you want your name printed inside; a whopping $1,500 if you want a special cover and some postcards on top of that).

To be fair, the creators are just covering costs here, and $200 is about what you'd pay for one of those special-edition Taschen doorstoppers on some obscure Italian designer; it's also a lot less than an actual art print. Still, you kinda? hope that raising the value of your print experience doesn't mean diminishing the value of your checkbook.

[Top image: Conical, by Marius Watz, 2009; for more images and info go to CreativeApplications.net]

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1 Comments

  • Martina

    I feel dumb but I just don't understand... if the art is being generated by machines then where do the artists come in?