Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on the Future of the Book

Preserving by Changing: Rodney Graham´s Book Objects as a Perspective for a Seemingly Old-fashioned medium

Dr. Mona C. Clerico, Dr des. Eva Wattolik.

Books play an important role in mass communication and can be viewed as representations of the collective memory. The discussion about intertextuality as it has been led for almost three decades emphasizes the interdependence of text and cognition. In the book objects of the artist Rodney Graham literature is treated as a metaphor for different modes of thinking and remembering. Choosing mostly works of the 19th and early 20th century Graham focuses on the historical dimension of the book. Although the artist deals only with anachronistic media like camera obscura, silent film and the seemingly so old-fashioned book, he integrates the book into a wider context, creates a kind of hypertext in the whole of his artwork and thus makes his own extravagant contribution to the modern debate about intertextuality and mind.

In “The System of Landor’s Cottage” (1987) for example Graham manipulates Edgar Allan Poe’s narrative “Landor’s Cottage” by adding his own visions to the original text. The “annex” of a crystal dome provides the starting point for a series of embedded stories. By this the artist appropriates Poe’s fiction to his personal cognitive landscape and imposes his own intentions on Poe. Similarly he confuses the sequence of tenses in works of Sigmund Freud, Georg Büchner, Ian Fleming and others. He breaks up the linearity of the texts and by treating them like modular design principles he builds up hypertext structures. Therefore he integrates qualities of the computer, a machine which has the potential to fulfil different requirements and provides information in an non-hierarchical way, into the traditional concept of the book. By changing the medium he preserves it. This might be an answer to the question about the future of the book in general.


Dr. Mona C. Clerico  (Germany)
Postdoc Scholar
Department of German Philology Faculty of Literature and Linguistics
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

Dr. Mona Clerico, Department of German Philology, Faculty of Literature and Linguistics, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany.
Mona Clerico is currently working on a postdoc project on the mythological motives in Christa Wolf´s “Kassandra” and James Joyce´s “Ulysses”.

Dr des. Eva Wattolik  (Germany)

Dr. des. Eva Wattolik, Department of Art History, Hochschule für Bildende Künste Dresden, Germany.
Eva Wattolik is currently working on a postdoc project on the film and video works of Rodney Graham focusing questions of mind, language and media.

  • Hypertext Structure
  • Intertextuality and Mind
Person as Subject
  • Graham, Rodney

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)