What is a book? The commonly held notion is pretty simple: it is an object
made of pieces of paper, glued or bounded together, with stuff written in it.
Indisputable. But, maybe, there is more than meets the eye.
As a matter of fact, like most technological artifacts, a book can be hacked. By
altering its structure and content, magical things can happen: volumes with
movable parts, pages providing cinematic experiences, images appearing and
disappearing, non-linear structures to predict the future, pop-up magic shows.
To such unusual enterprise is devoted "Magic Books", an interactive
exhibition retracing the story of the secret art of book hacking, from
Medieval times to our days. Hosted at the Italian Cultural Institute in New
York the exhibition is a mindbending and playful tour of the
possibilities unleashed by subverting the typical use of book, an unprecedented
collection of design principles through which authors and publishers have
activated magical powers out of plain paper.
The exhibition is designed and curated by Mariano Tomatis, Wonder Injector,
writer, magician, who will himself kick it open on March Friday 13th with a
lecture/show focused on the Italian influence of the art of book hacking – from
the Venetian 17th century mind-reading books to Bruno Munari's magic shows
on paper. To the topic of Magic Books Mariano has also dedicated his
latest book, just published in Italy.
For all book lovers, designers and hackers this is something not to be missed,
promising doses of wonder enfolded within the pages of books, still of one of
the most groundbreaking (albeit simple) technologies ever invented.
Illustration: Angelo Monne