Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Barbara Darko

Barbara Darko

For nearly two millenia, the book in its codex form has provided a material structure onto which we project our collective knowledge, emotions, dreams, fears, histories, and ideas. Now, with the development of digital reading formats and platforms, the tangibility of text and images is no longer necessary for the reading process. Pdfs, hypertext, audiobooks, eBooks, word processors, electronic devices, and other digital technologies enable us to read and write virtually; many believe that within a number of years they will totally eclipse print and paper, leaving the physical book to drift into antiquity. In the past few decades, this tension between the physical and virtual book has been addressed by a number of concerned groups. Artists have been particularly prolific in assessing the state of affairs through their work. My thesis will examine how we have come to access and address the book form as a result of contemporary technological shifts. Through the lens of book arts – in particular, bookworks – I will attempt to reconcile the physical book and the electronic book as concurrent technologies. Rather than remain at odds, I believe the two forms will continue to compliment and compensate for each other. I will consider the historical, linguistic, philosophical, artistic, and technological frameworks of the book form and draw from sources including art criticism and literature, past and working artists, artistic institutions, knowledgeable individuals, and personal experimentation in order to consider the implications of the relationship between physical and electronic books in our increasingly visual culture. 

SECTOR C / Art Practice and Technology

ADVISERS: Jeremy Holmes (FNAR) | Christine Poggi (ARTH)