Rachel DuganFollow




School of Visual and Performing Arts


Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design (MFA)


Todd Smith


Bookbinding, Printmaking, Lasercut, Letterpress


Art and Design | Arts and Humanities | Book and Paper | Graphic Design


There exists a sort of gravitas attached to a book that is printed and bound by hand that gets lost on the production line. When holding a hand-printed (or hand-written), hand-bound codex next to a mass-produced book, there is between the two a visible and tactile difference in quality and harmony between form and content. With the modern technological advancements now available, how can the craftsmanship and beauty — the gravitas — evident in books of the past be replicated in a way that is aesthetically pleasing, harmonious in message, and reflective of the present time? As objects, books are designed to be read with all of the senses. Reading by codex is a holistic experience that is uniquely human, an experience that makes books valuable artistic and cultural artifacts in both their contents and their form. A book is more than simply a container for the contents. The form can easily be replaced by other media types, but as a sensory experience and artistic reflection of culture, the form of the book has no replacement. Currently the codex is at risk of being replaced with electronic and entirely machine-made books that lack a human connection. This can be attributed to an economic demand for increased speed and output, a social decline in awareness of quality, and a technological decrease in craft over time. The result is that current methods and materials used in book production do not produce preservable cultural artifacts or communicate a unified message in their physical format and textual meaning. Methods of book production must be modified to preserve the holistic experience encountered in the object of the book in ways that are appropriate to the present time.