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An Artist’s Book Prototype: The iPhone Book

I recently made a prototype for an artist’s book. In this post I’ll share some of the ideas behind the book, as well as some challenges I faced in making it.

Artist's book prototype

My husband and I crack ourselves up by speaking gibberish into his iPhone or my Android phone and using the microphone and the notepad app to have the phone dictate what we’re saying. Since it can’t understand what we’re saying, it comes up with words and phrases that it thinks we’re saying and records those.

Artist's book prototype

The phrases vaguely make sense, in the way that a spam email subject line vaguely makes sense. It sounds almost like a real phrase in proper English, but something’s off.

Artist's book prototype

So we had all these smart phone poems saved on our phones. I had the idea to make an artist’s book using these poems. It would be a box that was the size and shape of an iPhone, with the poems on a scroll inside the box that you could manually turn using knobs on the outside of the box.

Artist's book prototype

The end result was pretty much exactly how I imagined it. It’s a box the length and width of an iPhone, with a glass window the length and width of the iPhone screen. The poems are written out using the same font that Apple uses on a long white piece of paper, which is attached to two dowels that run through the box.

When you turn the dowels, you turn the scroll and a new poem enters the screen.

Artist's book prototype

Some aspects of the box did turn out to be challenging.

Since there is no way to open it back up again, I had to make sure the inside of the box, the scroll, and the inside of the glass were all nice and clean. I would have no way of going back in to clean the inside after it was put together.

Another challenging aspect was putting the whole thing together. I had to cover the box in the black material while putting it together at the same time. Since the dowels stick through holes in the box, I had to adhere the covering material to the box and inside the holes before sticking the dowels through. So the box was half covered and the dowels were half in and half out before the box was completely sealed.

Finally, the scroll is very difficult to turn. This would be solved by making the dowels longer. You really don’t have much to grab onto when turning the scroll. I wanted them to be short so they looked more like buttons on a smart phone, but I don’t think it’s possible to keep them short and have it be easy to turn.

I enjoy the engineering aspect of making a box, so I was not frustrated by these challenges. This is why it’s a prototype! If I were to use this prototype to make a unique artist’s book or an edition, I know how I can improve it.

See a short video of the book in action:

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