Wht is a book?

Wht is a book?

By Paul Chan

  • Release Date : 2011-12-01
  • Genre : Art & Architecture
  • FIle Size : 224.46 MB
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Wht is a book? What is reading? How does reading turn into knowing? How does knowing become doing? Does it matter if knowing only knows? What is a book? Is reading a book different from reading a menu, or an affidavit, or a painting? Why are books associated with bodies? When books are burned, why is it natural to assume that people are next? Does it have to do with Eros? How do you burn an e-book?

Wht is ?
This series of handmade books and e-books made by Paul Chan uses a special technique of overprinting images and texts onto existing sheets of book paper to create works that read like nothing else. The series premiered at the 2011 NY Art Book Fair. Each handmade book exists as an edition of one with two artist proofs, and as an e-book with a unique ISBN available on Apple iBooks.

Paul Chan is an artist who lives and works in New York. His work has been exhibited widely in many international shows including: Making Worlds, 53rd Venice Biennale, Venice, 2009; Medium Religion, ZKM, Karlsruhe, 2008; Traces du sacrê, Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2008 and the Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of Art, New York, 2006. Recent solo exhibitions include Paul Chan: The 7 Lights, Serpentine Gallery, London and New Museum, New 2007–2008. In 2007, Chan collaborated with the Classical Theatre of Harlem and Creative Time to produce a site-specific outdoor presentation of Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot in New Orleans. Chan’s essays and interviews have appeared in Artforum, Frieze, Flash Art, October, Tate etc, Parkett, Texte Zur Kunst, Bomb, and other magazines and journals.


  • pains of legibility

    By Cara Benedetto
    Wht is a Book? exaggerates the pain of legibility. The misspelling of standard words like ‘bok’ for ‘book’ or ‘struch’ for ‘struck’ and ‘god’ for ‘good’ point to a skimming, aggressive and pun filled process of decoding. It is a top down approach to being read, and assumably the right odor in which to read. The book is comprised of quotes, seemingly taken from Chan’s notebook. Each is marked by a page number in some fashion of numerical value, sometimes repeating and other times skipping, but always getting bigger. Focusing on the history of print media Chan details labor, process, market and an industry designed to assist the author in capital concern. We, the reader (scroller), get a taste of Chan’s angst as it is distinct in the last note and Line Item that details the underscoring of intellectual property, which forced authors to engage in a ‘production of process’. The quotations exist on top of maps, newspapers, propaganda and images of artworks, serving as both backdrops and products of the system that bored to death the very same communities the authors desired and imagined. Wht Is a Book?, like legibility, is a trap. It imagines the same pain and problems of decoding in a half dead culture. Chan makes it plain that reading while sleepwalking is now a thing of our collaborative present.