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Krissy Wilson


Art Of Google Books: Crazy Images Found Online

Posted: 07/31/2012 5:38 pm

A project firmly embedded in the pop-culture debate between the merits of the digital text and the physical text, The Art of Google Books celebrates the generative nature of transmediation.

Single-topic blogs prove that isolation aggrandizes everything, and this is no different; by reading as a collector and aggregating my finds, I promote the signs of use that accompany digitized books as worthy of both academic study and aesthetic exhibition.

In other words, Google Books is more than a bag of words.

It's full of anomalies--digital and analog signs of use. Search through texts in the public domain, and you'll find all kinds of distortion, color changes, misplaced autolinks, and, frequently, the hands of an employee. You'll stumble upon marginalia, paper ephemera, and traceable provenance. Sometimes, you can even catch a glimpse of the tools that are used in the digitization process.

And when I say you, I mean you. Go on a hunt and submit your find: because the collaborative nature of the project is tantamount to what is found; because what you find in a database of more than 20 million digital books will be striking and diverse; because there's some remarkable artwork waiting to be found.

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  • Small pages left uncropped, with employee's fingers and blue ground. From <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=ZvVbAAAAQAAJ&dq=sun&pg=PP4#v=twopage&q&f=false" target="_hplink"><em>The Rising Sun: or, Verses Upon the Queen's Birth-Day</em></a> (1690). Original from Oxford University. Digitized May 1, 2009.

  • Extreme warping. Submitted via e-mail by Alistair Ian Blythe. Throughout <a href="http://books.google.ro/books?id=zhJOAAAAcAAJ&dq=sonntag de igne inferni&pg=PT9#v=onepage&q&f=false" target="_hplink"><em>Ignis Inferni Proprius, Non Metaphoricus</em></a> by Christoph Sonntag and Jacob Steinhäußer (1700). Original from la Biblioteca Bavareză de Stat. Digitized December 13, 2011.

  • Distorted <a href="http://hcl.harvard.edu/" target="_hplink">Harvard College Library</a> bookplate. From the front matter of <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=NgIXAAAAYAAJ&dq=missing&pg=PP2#v=onepage&q&f=false" target="_hplink"><em>The Missing Pocket-Book: or, Tom Mason's Luck by Harry Castlemon</em></a> (1895). Original from Harvard University. Digitized March 13, 2008.

  • Motion, movement, distortion. From the front matter of <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=pbUDAAAAQAAJ&ots=UlZHeJG-ps&dq=children's&pg=PP2#v=twopage&q&f=false" target="_hplink"><em>Poetry for Children</em></a>, ed. by Lucy Aikin (1806). Original from Oxford University. Digitized September 26, 2006.

  • <em>Memento mori</em> with neon moiré. The frontispiece to <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=TwIPAQAAIAAJ&dq=brain&pg=PR9#v=onepage&q&f=false" target="_hplink"><em>A System of Human Anatomy: General and Special by Sir Erasmus Wilson and Paul Beck Goddard</em></a> (1813). Original from the University of California. Digitized April 27, 2009.

  • Child-colored plates. Throughout <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=pXA3AAAAMAAJ&dq=child&pg=PA5#v=onepage&q&f=false" target="_hplink"><em>Child's Magazine</em></a>, v. 2 (1816). Original from the University of Michigan. Digitized June 15, 2007.

  • Plates photographed through tissue. Throughout <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=RwAKAAAAIAAJ&ots=Jydm9Z9R5j&dq=volcanoes&pg=PA98-IA5#v=onepage&q&f=false" target="_hplink"><em>Volcanoes: What They Are and What They Teach</em></a> by John Wesley Judd (1881). Original from the New York Public Library. Digitized May 2, 2006.

  • Plates photographed with neon moiré. Throughout <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=V0UWAAAAYAAJ&dq=hound&pg=PA30-IA1#v=onepage&q&f=false" target="_hplink"><em>Cross Country With Horse and Hound</em></a> by Frank Sherman Peer (1902). Original from Harvard University. Digitized March 1, 2008.

  • Writing autolinked with items from the table of contents. From p. xii of <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=_JUNAAAAQAAJ&dq=children&pg=PP12#v=onepage&q&f=false" target="_hplink"><em>Poetry for Children</em></a>, ed. J. Aikin (1805). Original from Oxford University. Digitized September 11, 2007.

  • Scribbles, doodles, and drawings everywhere. Throughout <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=OsfaEdtUVGIC&ots=qBNh-QHN5U&dq=arithmetic&pg=PA374#v=twopage&q&f=false" target="_hplink"><em>The Principles of Arithmetic</em></a> by Joseph Ray (1856). Original from Harvard University. Digitized February 6, 2007.

  • Plates left folded through digitization. Throughout <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=V2QUAAAAQAAJ&dq=alligator&pg=PA359#v=onepage&q&f=false" target="_hplink"><em>Nature Displayed in the Heavens and On the Earth</em></a> by Simeon Shaw (1823). Original from Oxford University. Digitized July 11, 2008.

  • Note: "mind if I look at your, @Playboy@?" From the title page of <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=aM4xAQAAMAAJ&dq=flute&pg=PA1#v=onepage&q&f=false" target="_hplink"><em>Foundation to Flute Playing: An Elementary Method</em></a> by Ernest F. Wagner (1918). Original from Pennsylvania State University. Digitized March 28, 2012.

  • A collage of library stamps. From the front matter of <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=NiZEAAAAcAAJ&ots=cE_uQRsH1I&dq=intelligence&pg=PP4#v=onepage&q&f=false" target="_hplink"><em>A Restitution of Decayed Intelligence: In Antiquities. Concerning the Most Noble, and Renowned English Nation</em></a> by Richard Verstegan (1634). Original from Ghent University. Digitized September 8, 2010.