Panel introduction by Kristoffer Gansing: Paperbound - Cultural Imaginaries and Practices in the Epoch of Paper
Moderator: Alessandro Ludovico
With Lothar Müller, Markus Krajewski, Gary Hall, Janneke Adema
Books, letters, documents and indexes are all paperbound forms central not only to literary, but also to computational culture. In his recent book, White Magic. The Paper Age (2012), Lothar Müller suggests looking at paper’s cultural significance not only from the viewpoint of its practical use, but also as a universal metaphor informing everyday culture. In this sense, paperbound cultural practices are not restricted to the analog. Instead, we can see how the persistence of paper confounds the idea of linear transition from the analog to the digital. As Alessandro Ludovico argues, the post-digital era is one where print is not obsolete, but is in the process of reinvention. This argument examines how the legacy of different paperbound forms is being transformed and is transforming cultural imaginaries and practice. Lothar Müller’s historical view of paper serves as an introduction to his exploration of the evolving social and cultural impact of paper in different formats, such as postage stamps, punch cards and newsprint, as well as the influence of paper on literary modernity. Markus Krajewski will delve deeper into the computational aspects of paper, looking at the transformation of writing that took place in electronic contexts, as well as giving a brief introduction to his Synapsen software, a virtual punch card environment. Janneke Adema and Gary Hall explore how books exist between being material and conceptual objects, juxtaposing the paperbound artist book and the scholarly monograph, where in both cases the book may be seen as a political tool for constructing an alternative future.