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Book Arts on the web

For 10 years, the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild’s Ottawa Valley Chapter has been promoting the book arts by hosting fairs, exhibitions, workshops and monthly meetings open to the public, but never has it attempted to create a website on the book arts such as this. The idea for this exercise was inspired, in part, by a member’s comment about the limited online resources found on the discourse of the book arts in Canada, despite its growing popularity.

Experiencing the book arts

Books could be described as assemblages of two-dimensional works to make three-dimensional objects that are not only read, seen, but also handled, touched. It is easy to fall prey to our visual experience, and feel satisfied by making sense of the words, images, and treatment of a book, but by disregarding the tactility of this art object, by avoiding the haptic experience, its interpretation is limited. Tim Mosely explains:

…artworks produced by haptic means will attract haptic interpretations, and the optic production of an artwork will attract an optic interpretation. The implications of this are far reaching. If optic modes of production dominate the production of cultural artifacts, then, without efforts to address it, the critical evaluation of these will be biased towards the optic.[3]

That the book arts can be discovered on the Web and thriving as a result is good, but experiencing them by holding works in one’s hands is enriching and a rare privilege. We hope that this site will not only inform, but also encourage you to experience the intimacy that the works offer, whether at exhibitions, in archives, or at CBBAG events. We also hope that this endeavour may provide a glimpse of what a Canadian portal could look like.

Roxanne Lafleur

[1] Gregory, Cynthia L. “Book arts on the Web. An introduction to selected resources.” College and Research Libraries News, vol. 65, no. 4, 2004, pp.198-201
[2] Flanders, Julia. “Book Arts on the Web.” Journal of Artists’ Books, no. 13, 2000, pp.28-30.
[3] Mosely, Tim. “The Haptic and the Emerging Critical Discourse on Artists Books.” Journal of Artists’ Books, no. 39, 2016, pp.36-39.