If on a winter‘s night a traveler (1) Italo Calvino
Excerpt 1979

"You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino‘s new novel, If on a winter‘s night a traveler. Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade. Best to close the door; the TV is always on in the next room. Tell the others right away, „No, I don‘t want to watch TV!“ Raise your voice —they won‘t hear you otherwise—“I‘m reading! I don‘t want to be disturbed!“ Maybe they haven‘t heard you, with all that racket; speak louder, yell: „I‘m beginning to read Italo Calvino‘s new novel!“ Or if you prefer, don‘t say anything; just hope they‘ll leave you alone. Find the most comfortable position: seated, stretched out, curled up, or lying flat. Flat on your back, on your side, on, your stomach. In an easy chair, on the sofa, in the rocker, the deck chair, on the hassock. In the hammock, if you have a hammock. On top of your bed, of course, or in the bed. You can even stand on your hands, head down, in the yoga position. With the book upside down, naturally. Of course, the ideal position for reading is something you can never find. In the old days they used to read standing up, at a lectern. People were accustomed to standing on their feet, without moving. They rested like that when they were tired of horseback riding. Nobody ever thought of reading on horseback; and yet now, the idea of sitting in the saddle, the book propped against the horse‘s mane, or maybe tied to the horse‘s ear with a special harness, seems attractive to you. With your feet in the stirrups, you should feel quite comfortable for reading; having your feet up is the first condition for enjoying a read. Well, what are you waiting for? Stretch your legs, go ahead and put your feet on a cushion, on two cushions, on the arms of the sofa, on the wings of the chair, on the coffee table, on the desk, on the piano, on the globe. Take your shoes off first. If you want to, put your feet up; if not, put them back. Now don‘t stand there with your shoes in one hand and the book in the other. Adjust the light so you won‘t strain your eyes. Do it now, because once you‘re absorbed in reading there will be no budging you. Make sure the page isn‘t in shadow, a clotting of black letters on a gray background, uniform as a pack of mice; but be careful that the light cast on it isn‘t too strong, doesn‘t glare on the cruel white of the paper, gnawing at the shadows of the letters as in a southern noonday. Try to foresee now everything that might make you interrupt your reading. Cigarettes within reach, if you smoke,and the ashtray. Anything else? Do you have to pee? All right, you know best.
It‘s not that you expect anything in particular from this particular book. You‘re the sort of person who, on principle, no longer expects anything of anything. There are plenty, younger than you or less young, who live in the expectation of extraordinary experiences: from books, from people, from journeys, from events, from what tomorrow has in store.

But not you. You know that the best you can expect is to avoid the worst. This is the conclusion you have reached, in your personal life and also in general matters, even international affairs. What about books? Well, precisely because you have denied it in every other field, you believe you may still grant yourself legitimately this youthful pleasure of expectation in a carefully circumscribed area like the field of books, where you can be lucky or unlucky, but the risk of disappointment isn‘t serious.
So, then, you noticed in a newspaper that If on a winter‘s night a traveler had appeared, the new book by Italo Calvino, who hadn‘t published for several years. You went to the bookshop and bought the volume. Good for you.
In the shop window you have promptly identified the cover with the title you were looking for. Following this visual trail, you have forced your way through the shop past the thick barricade of Books You Haven‘t Read, which were frowning at you from the tables and shelves, trying to cow you. But you know you must never allow yourself to be awed, that among them there extend for acres and acres the Books You Needn‘t Read, the Books Made For Purposes Other Than Reading, Books Read Even Before You Open Them Since They Belong To The Category Of Books Read Before Being Written. And thus you pass the outer girdle of ramparts, but then you are attacked by the infantry of the Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days Are Numbered. With a rapid maneuver you bypass them and move into the phalanxes of the Books You Mean To Read But There Are Others You Must Read First, the Books Too Expensive Now And You‘ll Wait Till They‘re Remaindered, the Books ditto When They Come Out In Paperback, Books You Can Borrow From Somebody, Books That Everybody‘s Read So It‘s As If You Had Read Them, Too. Eluding these assaults, you come up beneath the towers of the fortress, where other troops are holding out:
the Books You‘ve Been Planning To Read For Ages,
the Books You‘ve Been Hunting For Years Without Success,
the Books Dealing With Something You‘re Working On At The Moment,
the Books You Want To Own So They‘ll Be Handy Just In Case,
the Books You Could Put Aside Maybe To Read This Summer,
the Books You Need To Go With Other Books On Your Shelves,
the Books That Fill You With Sudden, Inexplicable Curiosity, Not Easily Justified."

If on a winter‘s night a traveler. This is a beautiful example of a narrative, in the form of a frame story, which tells about the reader trying to read a book called „If on a winter‘s night a traveler“. Each chapter is divided into two sections. In the first section of „If on a winter‘s night a traveler“, the author addresses himself to the reader and explains him the process he has to go through to be able to read the next chapter. The second half is the first part of a new book that the reader („you“) finds. The second half is always about something different from the previous ones and the ending is never explained.


It is almost inevitable that a certain kind of content will dictate a certain kind of form. As the form we consider the physical dimensions, the edges of the material platform of the page. The content would be determined as the cognitive space, referring to what the book contains. Before the page became the favorite support for artists in terms of book art, it has been used to share knowledge. Much of what we have learnt has been transmitted to us on the page. (2)
In his essay „Some Questions About Book Art“, 1977, p.64-65, Clive Phillpot comes to the conclusion that the form of the book as a receptacle for experience is the most unnatural. (3) In his words, „The unnaturalness of the book lies in the fact that spectators have to engage physically with the book, can control their rate of intake of information, and can choose what to see and when to see it. Spectators also have the power to subvert the intentions of some artists by starting the book at the end, by looking at it upside down, by reading passages out of sequence, and so on.“
Not only artist books but also works of literature, use some devices such as black pages, blank pages, text pages, punctuation pages as a counterpoint to what has preceded or what will follow in the narrative. Louis Lüthi presents them thematically, resulting in a typology of so called self-reflexive pages. (4)
The narrative possibilities inherent in the book form allow the reader or spectator a deeper projection into the scenery and give him a better idea of the books content. Phillpot further says „It also seems to me that the combination of words and pictures leads to an entity that is greater than the sum of its parts and that the verbi-visual is likely to be a particularly rewarding area.“  (5)
„The Social Life of the Book“, which describes itself as “a monthly, subscription based series of original texts by writers, artists, publishers, designers, booksellers, etc., treats reflections on reading, designing, publishing and distributing books today.” It is edited by castillo/corrales in Paris, and published through its Paraguay Press, Imprint.
Oscar Tuazon begins the series with his essay „Making Books“ in which he describes smartly the experiences of his own use of traditional bookmaking skills. „I consider the process of making a book - even writing it - like a sculpture: I consider how it can or can‘t be used, how it relates to an idea of function, what it looks like and how it feels, most of all how it gets build. And above all, making books is always a way of answering the question of why to make a book. Reanimating the corpse.“ (6)
Tuazon, whos ideas fascinate me, explores various ways in which the book is a failure.  (7) Thus, the pamphlet becomes provocative, noting “a completely onanistic model of production and distribution: write a book yourself, for yourself”. He continues: „A book for an audience of one. A blank book is an anti-book. And it is this aspect that I actually find most interesting, the idea of producing a book not as a form of distribution or communication, but as an object.“  (8)
This object which is the book in its very basic characteristics, or in its physical property has this fundamental state of matter which is solid. Whether the shape is loud or silent, the structural rigidity remains the same. The volume can change, either it is big or small, thick or thin. But apart from its physical function and a potential extravagant content, are there any more qualities that could be attributed to a book?
There‘s an interesting quotation of Ad Reinhard saying that what is not there is more important than what you can see. This cosmos of the sensuality of books stays unexplored. As we‘re used to make the right decision, we have developed an elaborate system: a sensory system to notice what is going on around us. We are able to touch, to smell, to hear, to taste (this one might be hard to envisage in this context).
This unexplored cosmos of sensuality attracts my interest. Following questions intrigue me and still remain unanswered:
What happens emotionally with a person holding a book or written pages in the hands, running over pages of a magazine and/or is reading and watching the content? Why are people throughout centuries and across cultural bounderies still seduced and attracted by an object like a book? Does this object claim a certain physical space, does it need a particular presence? What do these pages, so uniquely embodied and filled with letters or/and forms which speak their own language and maybe reflect their environement and fuse with it, provoke in the person holding them?
One Hand, and the Other, a book by Emil Salto, published by Cornerkiosk press, exposes hand gestures and rectangles entering the frame and fixating the narrative. (9) A beautiful example of the handiness (literally) of the book „…as well as the fact that it requires no equipment to make its content accessible to the spectator, other than a pair of hands.“ (10) A beautiful example also in terms of coherency with the book form. The content merges into the form - it needs these elements to be stacked back to back in a book. These pages put together in a sequence on a wall would never have the same effect as they have bound in a book. Why? Because the manipulation by our hands of the pages showing hands triggers the person most probably also in a physical way.
It‘s somehow fulfilling.

↑ [1. − 4.]

One Hand, and the Other, a book by Emil Salto,
published by Cornerkiosk press.
28 pages, 28 images, 19 x 14,5cm
Black/White Risoprint,
Handmade at Officin, Copenhagen, Japanese Binding


Of course, there are quite a lot of techniques and methods authors can use to convey their message. Thus I‘ll focus on the metafictive devices in literature. The literary device which is building a greater part, taking its spectator into account, where character becomes author and the reader becomes a character of the story itself in order to force the author to change the story. „Metafiction is used to self-consciously and systematically draw attention to a work‘s status as an artifact. Metafiction forces readers to be aware that they are reading a fictional work. Metafiction is primarily associated with Modernist literature and Postmodernist literature, but is found at least as early as Homer‘s Odyssey, Chaucer‘s 14th century Canterbury Tales, and Laurence Stern‘s Tristram Shandy.“ Further, „it poses questions about the relationship between fiction and reality, usually using irony and self-reflection.“ (11)
This is where the modes of composition and the narrative possibilities should come together on the page, in order to build an entity. In „On the Self-Reflexive Page“, Lüthi describes the page „not as a recto or verso of one of the leaves of paper that when bound together make up a book, but as a determined space at a specific point in a narrative“. (12)
In „How the page matters“, Bonnie Mak describes the page as a „powerful interface between designer and reader, flexible enough to respond to a variety of demands while remaining comprehensible and communicative“ ; „Each page has a recto and a verso, a front and back side - the height and width of the material regulate the space“ ; The page “influences meaning by its distinctive embodiment of those ideas“ ; “The architecture of the page is thus a complex and responsive entanglement of platform, text, image, graphic markings, and blank space“. (13)

↑ [5. − 9.]

On the Self-Reflexive Page, a book by Louis Lüthi, published by Roma Pulications. An essay by Louis Lühti about book pages. 160 pages, softcover, 13 x 20 cm

"Our Work and Why We Do It"

As I was interviewing Louis Lüthi about his work, what matters right now and why these things are crucial to him and to the world at large he handed me this short story by Donald Barthelme. Donald Barthelme a master of challenging, inventive, ingenious experimental fiction, this story was originally published in the The New Yorker, May 5, 1973 and collected in Amateurs (1976); Sixty Stories (1981).

"As admirable volume after admirable volume tumbled from the sweating presses ...
The pressmen wiped their black hands on their pants and adjusted the web, giving it just a little more impression on the right side, where Vittle specks of white had started to appear in the crisp, carefully justified black prose.
I picked up the hammer and said into the telephone, „Well, if he comes around here he‘s going to get a face full of hammer“
„A four-pound hammer can mess up a boy‘s face pretty bad“
„A four-pound hammer can make a bloody rubbish of a boy‘s face.“
I hung up and went into the ink room to see if we had enough ink for the rest of the night‘s runs.
„Yes, those were weary days,“ the old printer said with a sigh. „Follow copy even if it flies out the window, we used to say, and oft-“
Just then the Wells Fargo man came in, holding a. 38 loosely in his left hand as the manual instructs
It was pointed at the floor, as if he wished to
But then our treasurer, old Claiborne McManus
The knobs of the safe
Sweet were the visions inside,
He handed over the bundle of Alice Cooper T-shirts we had just printed up, and the Wells Fargo man grabbed them with his free hand, gray with experience, and saluted loosely with his elbow, and hurried the precious product out -to the glittering fans.
And coming to work today I saw a brown Mercedes with a weeping woman inside, her head was in her hands, a pretty blond back-of-the-neck, the man driving the Mercedes was paying no attention and
But today we are running the Moxxon Travel Guide in six colors
The problems of makeready, registration, show-through, and feed
Will the grippers grip the sheet correctly?
And I saw the figure 5 writ in gold
„Down time“ was a big factor in the recent negotiations, just as „wash-up time“ is expected to complicate the negotiations to come. Percy handed the two-pound can of yellow ink to William.
William was sitting naked in the bed wearing the black hat. Rowena was in the bed too, wearing the red blanket. We have to let them do everything they want to do, because they own the business. Often they scandalize the proofreaders, and then errors don‘t get corrected and things have to be reset, or additional errors are inserted by a proofreader with his mind on the shining thing he has just seen.

Atlases are William‘s special field of interest. There are many places he has never been.
„Yesterday,“ William began
You have your way of life and we ours
A rush order for matchbook covers for Le Foie de Veau restaurant
The tiny matchbook-cover press is readied, the packing applied, the „Le Foie de Veau“ form locked into place. We all stand around a small table watching the matchbook press at work. It is exactly like a toy steam engine. Everyone is very fond of it, although we also have a press big as a destroyer escort-that one has a crew of thirty-five, its own galley, its own sick bay, its own band. We print the currency of Colombia, and the Acts of the Apostles, and the laws of the land, and the fingerprints
„My dancing shoes have rusted, „ said Rowena, „because I have remained for so long in this bed.“
Of criminals, and Grand Canyon calendars, and gummed labels, some things that don‘t make any sense, but that isn‘t our job, to make sense of things-out job is to kiss the paper with the form or plate, as the case may be, and make sure if ‚s not getting too much ink, and worry about the dot structure of the engravings, or whether a tiny shim is going to work up during the run and split a fountain.
William began slambanging Rowena‘s dancing shoes with steel wool. „Yesterday,“ he said
Salesmen were bursting into the room with new orders, each salesman‘s person bulging with new orders
And old Lucien Frank was pushing great rolls of Luxus SemiFine No. 2 through the room with a donkey engine
„Yesterday, „ William said, I saw six Sabrett hot-dog stands on wheels marching in single file down the middle of Jane Street followed at a slow trot by a police cruiser. They had yellow-and-blue umbrellas and each hot-dog stand was powered by an elderly man who looked ill. The elderly men not only looked ill but were physically small-not more than five-six, any of them. They were heading I judged for the Sixth Precinct. Had I had the black hat with me, and sufficient men and horses and lariats and .30-30s, and popular support from the masses and a workable revolutionary ideology and/or a viable myth pattern, I would have rescued them, Removed them to the hills where we would have feasted all night around the fires on tasty Sabrett hot dogs and maybe steaming butts of Ballantine ale, and had bunsplitting contests, sauerkraut-hurling“

He opened the two-pound can of yellow ink with his teeth.
„You are totally wired,“ Rowena said tenderly
„A boy likes to be“
We turned away from this scene, because of what they were about to do, and had some more vodka. Because although we, too, are wired most of the time, it is not the vodka. It is, rather . . . What I mean is, if you have ink in your blood it‘s hard to get it out of your hands, or to keep your hands off the beautiful typefaces carefully distributed in the huge typecases
Annonce Grotesque Com-pacta Cooper Black helvetica“ Light Melior Microgramma Bold Profil Ringlet
And one of our volumes has just received a scathing notice in Le Figaro, which we also print . . . Should we smash the form? But it‘s our form...
Old Kermit Dash has just hurt his finger in the papercutter. „It‘s not so bad, Kermit, „ I said, binding up the wound. „I‘m scared of the papercutter myself. Always have been. Don‘t worry about it. Th ink instead of the extra pay you will be drawing, for that first joint, for the rest of your life. Now get back in there and cut paper. I whacked him on the rump, although he is eighty, almost rumpless
We do the Oxford Book of American Grub
Rowena handed Bill another joint - I myself could be interested in her, if she were not part of Management and thus „off limits“ to us fiercely loyal artisans. And now, the problem of where to hide the damning statistics in the Doe Airframe Annual Report.. Hank Witteborn, our chief designer, suggests that they just be „accidentally left out.“ The idea has merit, but Crash! Someone has just thrown something through our biggest window. It is a note with a brick wrapped around it:
If you continue to live and breathe
If You Persist in walking the path of
Coating the facade of exploitation with the stucco of good Printing
What are they talking about? Was it not we who had the contract for the entire Tanberian Revolution, from the original manifestos hand-set in specially nicked and scarred Blood Gothic -to the letterheads of the Office of Permanent Change & Price Control (18 pt. Ultima on a 20-lb. laid stock)? But William held up a hand, and because he was the boss, we let him speak.

„it is good to be a member of the bourgeoisie, „ he said. „A boy likes being a member of the bourgeoisie. Being a member of the bourgeoisie is good for a boy. It makes him feel warm and happy. He can worry about his plants. His green plants. His plants and his quiches. His property taxes. The productivity of his workers. His plants / quiches / property taxes / workers /Land Rover. His sword hilt. His“
William is sometimes filled with self-hatred, but we are not. We have our exhilarating work, and our motto, „Grow or Die,“ and our fringe benefits, and our love for William (if only he would take his hands off Rowena‘s hip bones during business hours, if only he would take off the black hat and put on a pair of pants, a vest, a shirt, socks, and)
I was watching over the imposition of the Detroit telephone book. Someone had just dropped all the H‘s a thing that happens sometimes.
„Don‘t anybody move! Now, everybody bend over and pick up the five slugs nearest him. Now, the next five. Easy does it. Somebody call Damage Control and have them send up extra vodka, lean meat, and bandages. Now, the next five. Anybody that steps on a slug gets the hammer in the mouth. Now, the next“
If only we could confine ourselves to matchbook covers!
But matchbook covers are not our destiny. Our destiny is to accomplish 1. 5 million impressions per day. In the next quarter, that figure will be upped by twelve percent, unless „Leather,“ William says.
„Leather,“ he says with added emphasis. „Like they cover cows with. „
William‘s next great idea will be in the area of leather. I am glad to know this. His other great ideas have made the company great. The new machine for printing underground telephone poles The new machine for printing smoke on smoked hams The new machine for writing the figure 5 in gold All of this weakens the heart. I have the hammer, I will smash - anybody who threatens, however remotely, the company way of life. We know what we‘re doing. The vodka ration is generous. Our reputation for excellence is unexcelled, in every part of the world. And will be maintained until the destruction of our art by some other art which is just as good but which, I am happy to say, has not yet been invented."

Interview with

In your work you wrap out the field of artists’ books from an institutional point of view. In „On the Self-Reflexive Page“ you explore the modes of composition, narrative possibilities within the page which really flattered me. The form that the object takes throughout the content that is delivered is somehow overwhelming for the reader. The combination of pictures and words, like the work of filmmakers and video artists, become inter-dependent parts of a new entity.


During my research I came across the term „visual literacy“. One can communicate with practically anyone, regardless of age, culture or nationality; readers do not need to read foreign languages. Does it mean artist‘ publications are for the illiterate just because many of them are entirely visual?


Visual literacy is also something you learn, of course, and it too is determined by various sociocultural factors. If you think of any form of – whether visual or verbal – as an utterance that stands in a dialogic relationship to what preceded it and what will follow it (to expand upon Mikhail Bakhtin‘s theories), then we can consider such utterances as yet another „speech genre.“ As for global (read: Western) communication, the work of early concrete poets such as Eugen Gomringer illustrates the obvious limitations of adopting a trans-linguistic approach. Engaging with, if not having a knowledge of, foreign languages seems to me a vital aspect of any form of writing.


How did you arrive at this particular topic? What was the most important consideration when you started this work?


I wanted to explore the use of non-verbal elements in prose literature. A lot has been written about visual poetry but no one had really focused on the use of such devices in novels or short stories. So I decided to fill that gap by attempting a (necessarily incomplete) brief survey of the topic.


In your work, what do you think matters right now? Why are these things crucial to you and to the world at large?


In lieu of answering in my own words, I‘m attaching Donald Barthelme‘s „Our Work and Why We Do It.“ (ch. 3 ↑ )


I am curious about the kind of book you like, do you have a favourite one?


Books that I drew inspiration from while working on On the Self-Reflexive Page include Alasdair Gray‘s The Book of Prefaces, Hugh Kenner‘s The Counterfeiters (the edition with illustrations by Guy Davenport), and André Breton‘s Anthology of Black Humor.


How important do you think is the handiness of a book? What are the advantages of the book form?


Paperbacks are cheap to produce and relatively easy to disseminate. Further, they embody certain 20th-century social and literary ideals. As a form, it‘s advantages are largely a function of habit.


Who is responsible for book art, in terms of authorship?


Like Kafka‘s roll-call of people whom he felt were responsible for his traumatic upbringing, the authorship of a book could be attributed to a potentially endless list of persons: the writer/artist, the publisher, the editor, the proofreader, the translator(s), the printer, the binder, the graphic designer, the type designer who designed the typeface that the graphic designer used, the employees of the company that made the paper the book was printed on, the employees of the company that manufactured the printing press that printed the book, the writers and artists referenced in the text, the friends who read and commented on earlier drafts of the book, etc. But simply put, the author is the name on the spine, e.g., Robinson Crusoe.

Text Index

1. CALVINO, Italo.
If on a winter‘s night a traveler
Excerpt, Ch. 1.
English translation by William
Weaver, 1981.
2. MAK, Bonnie.
Studies in Book and Print
Culture. How the Page Matters,
Introduction. Reprint edition
(30 April 2013). P. 3
3. PHILLPOT, Clive. Booktrek.
In: Some Questions About
Book Art, 1978.
August, 2013. P. 64.
4. LÜTHI, Louis.
On the Self-Reflexive Page.
July, 2010. Out of Print
5. PHILLPOT, Clive. Booktrek.
In: Some Questions About
Book Art, 1978.
August, 2013. P. 65.

6. TUAZON, Oscar.
Making Books. 2011. P.9.
(The Social Life of the Book).
7. Reading Notes: The Social Life
Of The Book: Oscar Tuazon,
Making Books
In: Uncategorized on July 29, 2011
8. TUAZON, Oscar.
Making Books. 2011. P.6.
(The Social Life of the Book).
9. SALTO, Emil.
One Hand, and the Other.
Cornerkiosk press 2014
10. PHILLPOT, Clive. Booktrek.
In: Some Questions About
Book Art, 1978.
August, 2013. P. 65.

11. Wikipedia. Metafiction.
Metafiction (last modified on 2
February 2015)
12. LÜTHI, Louis.
On the Self-Reflexive Page.
July, 2010. Out of Print
13. MAK, Bonnie.
Studies in Book and Print
Culture. How the Page Matters,
Introduction. Reprint edition
(30 April 2013). P. 4-5.

Table Of Contents

I. Form & Content 11628px
Physical dimension
& cognitive space
II. Modes of composition
& narrative possibilities
III. Louis Lüthi, Portrait 4168px
IV. Interview with Louis Lüthi 2531px
Text Index 771px

Written by Klaus Stille
Guidance by Alexandru Balgiu
Graphic Design, ECAL 2014 / 2015



„The saddest
thing is, that
I have to
use words.“

At the very beginning - There‘s a fascination about books. There‘s no particular ingredient, either it catches you, or not. It‘s about perception and manipulation - in term of sense experience with the physical world. Can we manipulate perception into being a temporary reality? There‘s a fascination about the movements of the hands and overall postures, the language of gestures using the components of complex human communication. There‘s a fascination about the manipulation of the object of the book.

The magnificent and intriguing adventure of the body manipulating the object which again shows the body. This double manipulation creates the very sensual artistic point of intersection which I want to treat in my thesis. Charly Chaplin once said in the final speech of The Great Dictator: „We think too much and feel too little“. Here is where I would like to begin, tracking the dynamic relationship of material and meaning.

Table Of Contents

V. Paul Elliman, Portrait -829px
VI. The Body as Typography -1684px
VII. Walking through Typography -10393px
VIII. Walking through the Book -16362px
IX. Language of Gestures -21371px
Text Index -39935px

Rick Poynor about

Paul Elliman tells his students that “everything
you know is wrong”, embracing error to find ideas
where others see junk (14)

"These days, he occupies a position both inside and outside design. He is self-taught and his work shows none of the formal obsessions that have dominated graphic design’s experimental wing for the past ten years. Elliman isn’t indifferent to form and he doesn’t want it to let his ideas down, but it doesn’t drive him. He gives the impression that his being a designer is almost an accident and that he could take or leave the craft. As a teacher, he says, he has no wish to “make the industry better”. “I’d like to think that what I lack in professionalism I make up for in ambivalence to the profession,” he told the Chicago audience at the American Center for Design’s recent “(re)Making History” symposium. It is society, not design, he says, that interests him. References to writers pepper his conversation – Nietsche, Borges, Calvino, Perec, Benjamin – and it soon becomes evident that this is not mere name-dropping. Elliman’s wide reading informs his design thinking to an unusual degree, while design itself is for him a tool for thinking, a concrete manifestion of his thoughts and a form of orientation – a way of negotiating his own relation to the world. Since he returned from Texas, Elliman has maintained a studio in a rundown workshop building shoe-horned between a park and a school in London’s East End. A crate of unfiled newspaper cuttings sits in the corner and a sweatshirt for his University of Nowhere Internet project dangles from a hanger. Irregular shapes – they could be by Elliman or one of his young kids – loop across a blackboard and schoolboyish tufts of hair sprout from the designer’s head. A small working library of books contains Georges Perec’s “e”-less tour de force, A Void, Jay David Boulter’s Writing Space, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language and Jerry Mander’s Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television. Elliman looks serious, almost solemn until, once in a while, he cracks a 150-watt smile.

Elliman hasn’t been profiled in detail before and he isn’t sure at first that he wants to do it. He is dubious about design’s star system and speaks admiringly of designers like Karel Martens (Eye no. 11 vol. 3) who work at their own pace without seeking the limelight (they taught together at the Jan van Eyck Akademie in Maastricht). Accepting the argument that he is already a public presence on the design scene, Elliman is generous with his time but almost too co-operative. He makes pre-emptive lists of points he wants to cover and reads out prepared statements as though he can’t quite relax into the process of question and answer. When he does answer questions, his passionate sense of the complexity of what he wants to describe leads him into frequent digressions. Elliman grew up in Liverpool. When he was sixteen his family moved to the US. He worked in a San Jose photographic lab before returning to Britain to study sociology at Portsmouth Polytechnic; after a year he switched to an art foundation course. Back in America a year later, he learned some basic production skills on the San Francisco magazine City Sports. In 1984, he talked his way into a layout job on the now defunct London listings magazine City Limits and this led, in 1986, to his appointment as art director of Wire. Wire’s minimalism, he explains, was at that point less a matter of ideological preference than a case of making a virtue out of necessity. The magazine’s pre-Macintosh, out-of-town photosetter offered a line-up of just six faces. “I chose Garamond because it was nicest and the most appropriate. I wanted to give Wire that literary feel.” It took him a while to find his footing – “I’d be embarrassed now by a lot of the earlier issues” – but later issues in his eighteen-month tenure possess an understated elegance of detail (same size and weight section headings, for instance, sitting tight on the text below) that still looks audacious almost a decade after the event."


As a graphic design student, we are racking our brains for ideas every day. Often we do things, but not as the feelings leads us. Therefore it sometimes becomes difficult to create because what we naturally feel passes through the mill of reason as well.
I really like the „untitled september Magazine“. The physical sensuality of the object imparted by its paper and form, meets in a beautiful way the imagery of the human body. In other words: the cognitive space and physical dimensions of the page are conterminous. Elliman‘s publication reminds me somewhat of Ralph Ginzburg‘s first major work „EROS“, containing articles and photo-essays on love and sex. (15) The manipulation of the pages with our hands triggers a manipulation of the person looking at the object! It‘s somehow fulfilling. “In photographed fragments, the body seems both to correspond to the shapes of letters and to assume writing’s inanimate agency. Or maybe another spirit altogether is communicated by the perverse range of images, a secret map of the inner territory of language conducted by the body.“ (16)

Choi Sung Min‘s interview with Paul Elliman in the context of Typojanchi 2013, the Seoul International Typography Biennale organized by Korea Craft & Design Foundation Korean Society of Typography (17)


The images shown here are from an archive of source material used in the production of your untitled 592-page “September magazine.” Is this a new direction for your work?


Not really, I was collecting images that show the body communicating as a language of gestures well before I found a way to work directly with typography—or mainly against it. A few years later, after working with the found typography of objects, I started to think about these images in relation to forms of writing.


You’ve spoken about these images connecting with a gestural language much older than typography or written language…


Also that I find them in contemporary magazines, an image-based media where gestural language also belongs to a more recent technical stage of human communication.


Gestures mediated just as writing is, sometimes even looking like writing?


Some of the shapes and lines resemble script or alphabetical signs: vertical, diagonal or horizontal limbs; straight, arching or crossed arms, the curve of the back or the neck. But in most cases they seem even more abstract, whether moving or still, even while enacting gender or other socially specific coded gestures or posture.


And the images show the body communicating via a cultural semiotics of clothing, a further example of language developing under the impact of mass-production?


Yes, but I’m also a body and I’m interested in what the body is or wants. These images try to frame gestural language between a history of mechanical language in relation to the body, something I can’t really trust, and how the body communicates its own sensual mechanisms, which I think I can still believe in.

↑ [10. − 12.]
↓ [13. − 15.]

Untitled (September Magazine), by Paul Elliman,
published by Roma Publications/ Vanitypress.
592 pages, colour & BW, 22 x 29 cm, English


I‘d like to begin this chapter with a quotation: „The rhythms of letters are not confirmed to printed words. For the typographic eye, all the world is a readable place“. (18)
When I investigated the etymology of the word „Typography“ I started to realize how much reading and writing were connected and mutually dependent. The word Typography is derived from the Greek . It consists of two words, „typos“ which means “figure” or „form“ and “grapho” which means “I write.” In his essay „My Typographies - Walking is reading. Writing is walking...“, Paul Elliman gives us a fantastic image of typography on the move.
„From „A“ by Louis Zukofsy, through John Berger‘s „G“ and „The Story of O“, to „Z“, the novelisation of the Costa Gavras‘ film… And Alberto Manguel, in his book „A History of Reading“, a grand Pesan vizier of the tenth-century who travels with a library of 117,000 volumes „carried by caravan of 400 camels trained to walk in alphabetical order“, we get wonderful examples for typography on the move.(19)
Typography isn‘t a static matter. It‘s somehow dynamic, in its meaning and its presence. This is shown both by research and consultation which preceded this proposal.
Also driven by visual artists working with words in the late 1950s and 1960s when „letters, words, and texts were dissected, displayed as objects, or arranged so that form and content were combined“ (20), several exhibitions bringing together contemporary artists and artist‘ groups dealing with the material qualities of language - visual, aural, and beyond, were called into life with the goal of „arriving at a non-metaphoric artwork that was itself and nothing else…using language as a medium“. One of these exhibitions which took place at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2012 called „Ecstatic Alphabets/Heaps of Language“ dealt with „the letter, the word and the phrase“ which are „seen and experienced, and not necesseraly read.“
Franz Erhard Walther is one of the forerunners who contributed „to the development of an action-oriented concept of art“ in the second half of the 20th century. „The notion that one is permitted to look at art but not touch it, that there is some impregnable boundary between a work of art and our physical selves, our demeanour, our social roles, continues to provoke opposition.“
Walther‘s aesthetic „continously mediates between pictorial space (in drawing and sculpture), textual space (including book space), as well as the physical space of the active subject, and questions how they are interrelated.“
The exhibition at the Koch Oberhuber Wolff Gallery in Berlin resumes some central themes and approaches in Walther‘s work. „His sculptures, though intended as exhibition pieces, induce in viewers a desire to manipulate them and become physically involved. At the same time, the viewer’s actual participation is itself expected to be minimal.“ (21)
One of the largest retrospectives of the German artist is his solo exhibition „The Body Decides“ at WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels in 2014. Also emphasising the participation and the viewer as his primary medium, this exhibition again shows his radical rethinking of the relationship between art and action, „how the artwork and the public might be challenged and made complete.“ (22)

↑ [16. − 19.]

Franz Erhard Walther: The Body Decides, 2014, Installation view, WIELS, Brussels
„The body decides“ focuses on Walther‘s ability to transform notions of objecthood and perception through drawings, paintings, fabric sculptures, participatory forms, photographic documentation and archival material. Zaatari shows „Letter to a Refusing Pilot“, with works about a letter.


This physical, body involving process of walking through the book, literally, moving around pages or let the pages flow around the book, is a beautiful metaphor in entering the space of the page.
This spatial concept of assembling and grouping also called flatplanning helps to avoid confusion in publication production and arranges a composition by laying out a page plan that shows the entity of the book or magazine.

↑ [20. − 22.]

“André Malraux chez lui” by Dennis Adams [20] & „Malraux‘s Shoes“ (2012) by Maurice Jarnoux [21, 22]
Over the last forty years of his life, Malraux would assemble, disassemble, and reassemble montages of photographic reproductions to create Le Musée imaginaire, which ranks as one the twentieth century’s seminal manifestations of the archive along with Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas, Hanne Darboven’s Cultural History 1980–1983, and Gerhard Richter’s ongoing Atlas project.

Malraux’s idea of an imaginary museum, a “museum without walls” (which he first announced in 1947), is a prescient manifesto of the digital age that enacts the displacement of the physical art object and the museum by photographic reproduction. And Malraux’s privileging of curatorial over artistic production is a first instance of explicitly locating the creative act in the process of assembling, grouping, and displaying works of work.
by Thomas Micchelli

↑ [23. − 25.]

Carmel Snow at the Harper’s Bazzar offices (1952) by Walter Sanders [23], Snow with Alexey Brodovitch (1952) by Walter Sanders [24], Snow with Diana Vreeland (1952) by Walter Sanders [25]

↑ [26. − 27.]

Alexey Brodovitch and Richard Avedon arranging the sequence of pages for Avedon‘s first book observations in Avedon‘s 58th street studio NYC (1958) by Hiro B.


In the following I will limit myself on the hand as one of man‘s primary sense organs. In „The Anthropology and Social Significance of the Human Hand“, Ethel J. Alpenfels, Professor of Anthropology, New York University, New York City, describes movement as „indispensable in sensory experience … impossible to call up the image of touch without, in imagination, moving the hand.“ Further, „in the creative arts, the hand speaks, and one senses the tremendous power of the hand to convey human emotions. The hands are the organs of the body which, except for the face, have been used most often in the various art forms to express human feeling. The hands point or lead or command; the hands cry out in agony or they lie quietly sleeping; the hands have moods, character, and, in a wider sense, their own particular beauty. From prehistoric times to our own day, in every society known to science, the hands symbolize cultural behaviors, values, and beliefs... With its basic movements for grasping objects, the human hand also is „handy“ („dexterous,“ „to have two right hands“) for grasping ideas. To „comprehend“ is to „seize“ (Latin, „capere,“ „to seize“), from which we derive such words as „perceive,“ „conceive,“ and „receive.“ Thus, by various shades of meaning, the human hand not only „hands down“ information but „picks“ it up. The human hand also is an organ of perception and thus lends itself to the most abstract concepts. „Handsome“ originally meant „dexterous.“ „To feel“ is connected somehow with the Greek word for hand, „palame.“ To say in Latin „dicere“ means „to point.“ We touch, feel, handle, finger, thumb, paw, grope, palpate, and stroke objects.“ (23)

↑ [28. − 68.]

Various Hands

German artist Marianne Wex proposes another perspective, „that our smallest, most unconscious gestures speak volumes about the power relations of gender in daily life.“ Her photographic project „Bodylanguage as a result of patriarchal structures“ as a „visual survey comprised of hundreds of photographs assembled into dozens of thematic grids: Seated persons — leg and feet; arm and hand positions; standing persons — leg and feet; arm and hand positions; people sitting and laying on the ground; arm and leg positions; Egyptian, Greek, and Roman statuary; how the men of Christianity took over an old goddess gesture; the stultifying effect of the patriarchal socialization of men.“ (24)

↑ [69. − 70.]

Let’s Take Back Our Space: “Female” and “Male” Body Language as a Result of Patriarchal Structures (1979). A wide disputation about how we create and present ourselves, and the degree to which gender-specific conditioning and hierarchies are reflected through everyday pose, gesture, and pre-verbal communication.

Another quite important reference, and to stay in the field of photography as a instrument of documentary reportage to a tool of interrogation and deconstruction of social norms, would be Robert Heinecken. By using wide ranges of material to explore different kinds of juxtapositions, Heinecken also questioned the nature of photography and radically redefined the perception of it as an artistic medium. He explored themes of commercialism, sex, body and gender. „Heinecken worked across multiple mediums, including photography, sculpture, video, printmaking, and collage. Culling images from newspapers, magazines, pornography, and television, he recontextualized them through collage and assemblage, double-sided photograms, darkroom experimentation, and rephotography.“ (25)

↑ [71. − 72.]

[71] Robert Heinecken Figure Horizon #1
1971. Ten canvas panels with photographic emulsion, 11 13/16 × 11 13/16“ (30 × 30 cm) each. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Shirley C. Burden, by exchange. © 2013 The Robert Heinecken Trust.
[72] Recto/Verso #12, Cibachrome photogram with velum text insert, 1988

The final element in the equation, and closing the circle, we return from the body back to the object of the book. The term of manipulation will build the junction between both. Because the human hand is an organ of performance, it is not surprising that the hand should „manipulate“ („to lead by the hand“) the human vocabulary.
So here we are again, exploring the boundaries of the book. This is also where comedy or design deserves to be mentioned. For example in Buster Keaton‘s Silent Shorts, 1920-1923, I‘d like to point out the significant gag that occurs as „Buster sits down on a bench to read his newspaper. As Buster opens the paper, we see it becoming larger and larger as it unfolds, until it is so enormous that it completely buries its reader.“ (26)

↑ [73. − 79.]

Buster Keaton and the Newspaper in „The high sign“, 1920. The High Sign is a short comedy film starring comedian Buster Keaton.

In Bruno Munari‘s „Seeking Comfort In An Uncomfortable Chair“ he analyses the most obvious case of the armchair. „One comes home tired after having worked all day and finds an uncomfortable chair.“ He realized a series of 14 photographs which accompanied the text that appeared in issue N.202 of the magazine Domus in 1944. A man tries several positions to sit in a chair while reading his newspaper. „A kind of gymnastic looking for invisible braces. Each position called for a probably impossible seat that had its matrix in the postures of a body living extraordinary adventures“ (27)

↑ [80. − 87.]

Bruno Munari‘s „Seeking Comfort In An Uncomfortable Chair“, issue N.202 of the magazine Domus in 1944.

Text Index

14. Eye Magazine 25,
the international review of graphic
design, is a quarterly printed
magazine about graphic design
and visual culture.
Summer 1997, Other spaces
15. GINZBURG, Ralph.
16. ELLIMAN, Paul.
17. Typojanchi 2013, Seoul .
International Typography Biennale.
18, 19. Eye Magazine 27,
the international review of graphic
design, is a quarterly printed
magazine about graphic design
and visual culture.
1998, P.63
20. Ecstatic Alphabets.
Heaps of Language.
21. WALTHER, Franz Erhard.

22. WIELS Contemporary Art
Centre, Brussels.
23. Digital Resource Foundation -
Virtual Library Project
The Anthropology and Social
Significance of the Human Hand.
The Hand as a Sensory Organ.
24. Marianne Wex: Let’s Take
Back Our Space, 1979
APERTURE NO. 213, 2013
by David Campany
25. Robert Heinecken:
Object Matter
26. Buster Keaton‘s Silent Shorts
1920 - 1923, by James L. Neibaur,
Chapter 1, p.3, The High Sign
27. David-Alexandre Guéniot

Other web references:
https://github.com/samcoppini/Definition-book/commit/16373f61cc48aa077432f40275c86fc91594ee69 http://www.theverge.com/2014/11/25/7276157/nanogenmo-robot-author-novel


Concept, Design & Written by Klaus Stille
Guidance by Alexandru Balgiu
and Deodaat Tevaearai
Graphic Design department
ECAL 2014 / 2015

Times LT Roman

Computer Paper (Endless) 12“ x 240 mm
Printed with needleprinter Panasonic KX-P2123

Louis Lüthi, Alexandru Balgiu, Daniel Weberruß, Jens Roth,
Martin Hertig, Florent Marvier, Josefina Munoz, Eva Stille, Frederik Mahler-Andersen