August 29th, 2008


Excitingly boring books

I was excited, yesterday, to see Solution 9: The Great Pyramid (by Ingo Niermann and Jens Thiel) in the window of Pro-QM, Berlin's best art and design bookshop. Excited not just because my own Book of Scotlands will be there one day (I'm Solutions 11 to 1010), but because of the exciting boringness of Zak Kyes' jacket design.

Pro-QM likes to put sober, serious, difficult-looking books in its window. It likes books with purely typographic covers, books which run in series, books differentiated by minor differences in colour. It likes Reclam and it likes Merve Verlag. Zak's sober, understated design fits into that taste for starkness, even severity.

Inspired by the interesting boringness of it all, I made a YouTube video tribute to books so boring and abstruse-looking that they come full circle and get interesting again. Here, set to music by Alvin Lucier, is my film -- a tiny documentary about the alluring strangeness, the semi-sensual dullness, and above all the spooky otherness of the fruits of our academic presses.

My "film" is a close cousin, perhaps, of my recent appreciation of plain Japanese book jacket design, and not unrelated to the almost fetishistic levels of delightful dull dryness to be found in Grain Edit's appreciation of German and Swiss Book Design, or of Publicity and Graphic Design in the Chemical Industry.