The digital pop-up book becomes poetic with QR codes


Video screenshot by Edward Moyer / CNET

Rather than worry about the rise of e-readers and tablets and the seemingly imminent demise of the book as we know it, literary artist and poet Amaranth Borsuk set out to reinvent the digital struggle against paper as a kind dance, and make it the basis of his own artist’s book.

With her husband, web developer Brad Bouse, Borsuk created “Between Page and Screen”. It is a digital pop-up book that only contains elegantly rendered QR codes on its printed pages. Readers go to the book’s website, hold a page in front of their webcam, and watch a poem on the screen come out of the quick response code (and move around as the book is moved).

The book cannot be read without a computer, and the website is useless without the book.

The idea “came from Brad and I, eager to create a book to address the current state of reading, where we read more and more on screens and on portable devices and on computers,” said Borsuk told the Daily Brink blog. “But there are still many, myself included, who really love books as physical objects … Augmented reality seemed to me tailor-made for this exploratory space where both a page and a screen are needed. to get to text. “

Borsuk explained the technology behind the book as follows:

It’s quite similar to the technologies we already interact with. You can have a plugin with Skype that creates animations that float around your face. “Between page and screen” is written in Flash and what happens is your webcam minimizes the visual information it gets on the screen, and it makes things black or white and looks for squares . And if it finds a square, it reads the space inside the square, and if it recognizes that shape, it plays the corresponding animation. It uses the distortion of the corners of the squares to determine where the square is in space, and from that image it can then map the image in three dimensions. So when you move, the image moves correspondingly.

The cover of “Between” (top), and a page from Dieter Roth’s “Book AC” in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Borsuk cites Roth as an influence.

Above: Amaranth Borsuk and Brad Bouse. Below: Copyright 2011, The Trustees of Princeton University.

Of course, digital pop-up books have already been created (here is a commercial example), just like books (and a lot other things elsewhere) who take advantage of QR codes and augmented reality.

But Borsuk’s creation ($ 24.95 at Siglio Books) may be a little different, not only in its aesthetic, but also in the way its content engages form.

The poems in the book relate an exchange of notes between two lovers, P and S (“page” and “screen” perhaps?), And in doing so, they examine the mysterious space between two beings in relation – just like the le Book content comes from the connection between the computer and the page.

“Between the Page and the Screen” is also informed by a long tradition of experimentation involving literature, typography, graphics and technology – one that dates back to the ancient Greeks and advances in time through modernists like Apollinaire and Mayakovsky to more recent practitioners like Dieter Roth, Robert Coover and Jonathan Safran Foer.

These important considerations aside, Borsuk told Daily Brink that what she and Bouse “really wanted was to create a sense of excitement that you get as a kid playing with your first pop-up books.”

You can watch the video below and see if you think they were successful.

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