By Dennis Abrams | @DennisAbrams2
New Award Shortlist Draws From 680 MockupsWriting for the Japan Times, John L. Tran asks: “Who says printed books have a shelf life?”
His particular defense of print lies in art books, which are the focus of the Tokyo Art Book Fair, opening Friday (September 16) to run through Monday (September 19). Tran writes:
“At the more luxurious end of things is the high quality photo book. In the past 10 years these have become eagerly collected as artworks in themselves, with rare examples being resold at auction for many times their original price.
“One of the world’s foremost art book publishers, [Germany’s] Steidl, is launching a new book award at the 2016 TABF, which aims to be an annual event for photographers and book designers based in Japan.
“The shortlist, chosen from 680 mockups submitted earlier this year, will be displayed at the fair, with the winner being announced in November at the opening of a Steidl-organized exhibition of Robert Frank’s work at the University of the Arts, Tokyo.“
The fair, held annually since 2009, is, naturally, popular with art and design students, but, as Tran writes, “It also generally attracts admirers of the quirky, ingenious, and lovingly crafted.”
With an attendance level of some 10,000 visitors last year, Tran writes, “There is no reason to suppose 2016 will not see even more people enjoying an event that exemplifies what it means to be a cool kid in Tokyo.”
This year one section of the fair will be dedicated to books from Brazil, with organizers of the São Paulo Plana Art Book Fair and 10 Brazilian publishers in attendance. In addition, ink, paper and printing companies are scheduled to show visitors the various stages and processes that go into book production. They’re to have a chance to “observe and try out” lithography and letterpress printing.
Tran invokes Marshall McLuhan’s definition of TV as a “hot” medium because it involved the use of several senses at the same time while providing a wealth of different kinds of information. He described “low definition” printed matters as cool, requiring more of the viewer or user to gain value from them.
“Writing in the 1960s and ’70s, before the Internet…and virtual and augmented reality, McLuhan was prescient about the fact that quicker access to a greater quantity of information does not necessarily cultivate understanding.
“By this metric, the book fair will be ‘hot,’ but once you get home and settle down with your new reads, you’ll be a lot cooler.”