not a book (2014)

As a project that is situated between “the print” and “the digital” and as one that places print-based artifacts in conversation with digital artifacts, “not a book” is concerned with the histories, presents, and futures of books and the technologies of reproduction and replication used to make them.  Created from digital images of the traces left from the original copper engraved botanical prints on the interleaved blank pages of a digitized edition of one printed copy of an 1844 issue of “Flora Batava” magazine, the project reflects on and raises questions regarding just what a book is and was by delving into the history of “the” book as a collection of historically contingent technologies and social processes.  Seeking to document and understand how the material traces of bookmaking processes and technologies become legible in new ways once they are reframed and accessed in the context of new technologies of replication and reproduction, this project offers viewers an opportunity to reflect on the ways in which histories of print technologies are embedded in digital technologies and how the “not a book” image functions both literally and metaphorically as a “digital negative” of the printed original.  

 You can read more about the project and “Flora Batava” here.  You can access a copy of the edition of “Flora Batava” from which the “not a book” digital images were produced here.  You can order your own printed copy of “not a book” digital images here, and access a free copy to print yourself here and here.

As with all digital remixes, this project has many authors and contributors, including Kurt Steuber (, whose work preparing and publishing the digital scanned images of the “Flora Batava” at made this project possible,  the engraver J. C. Sepp, the publisher Jan Kops, Georg Jacob von Os and the many other illustrators, and Agnes Block, whose garden, named Vijverhof, was where many of the botanical specimens documented in the book were planted.  While the digital technology providers who contributed to this project are too numerous to name individually, as are the humans who created and manage the digital technologies employed, I am grateful to them for their contributions to this project.