This week we continued our new LAPIS journey from where we ended in week one, considering the works of Walter Benjamin and his study of Bertolt Brecht and expanding to look at the work of the Dadaists. The main message from this was the interaction of the author and audience (Brecht’s palys) and the restructuring and reuse of materials and ideas to form new representations (Dadaists).
Part of the lecture was viewing a video made at the London Book Fair, which raised the point that publishing is no longer just about books, but encompassed wider ideas of publishing in the digital space (eg games, ebooks). All of the interviewees highlighted the same views that publishing is about trends and cycles.
We considered how the reproduction of technology affects the value (not just in monetary terms) of a work and that the canonization of the producer through the possibility of copies and adaptations promotes the importance of the original. Benjamin highlighted this.
We discussed the idea that Marshall McLuhan promoted in 1946 that “The medium is the message” and therefore the medium is meaningful. McLuhan also discussed the idea of hot and cool media and this demonstrates that idea that technology affects the way that we read – ie the importance of format to content.
We looked at a paper called “The woman who invented note paper” by TH Barrett. It examined the influence that a female Chinese poet, Xue Tao, had on the adaptation of existing paper (large in size) to fit the 28 character poems that she wrote. This led the class to consider the visual impact of books in affecting the choice of the book.
We finally looked at the idea of disruption in publishing, whether disruptive technology/innovation (where the process/event which is disruptive eventually leads to integration with technology – eg printing, and that this may not necessary be a negative disruption), the idea of disruption of the idea of ownership (who owns the content), and disruption of publishing through the “rental” of digital copies instead of physical copies (ebooks, digital music and films etc). We questioned whether this was the end of the viable physical form.