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Navigating, Performing and Book Making


Eva Sommeregger

‘The B-Sides’, published in 2022, is a book that presents arts-based research on spatial theory and performance. It juxtaposes the stories of the Polynesian navigator Tupaia, Margaret Mead’s Kybernetes and Lara Croft’s avatar. Although very different—one is an indigenous historic character who becomes involved in a British expansionist sailing expedition across the Pacific, one is a character from Ancient Greek philosophy, and one is a gaming character, an avatar—, they all exhibit exceptional navigational practices. Investigating the specific ways in which the three characters navigate through two worlds simultaneously brings into focus on a particular form of space: a space characterised by a body that mediates between two co-existing environments.

The book project adopts a performative approach that foregrounds the conceiving, writing, designing and making the book while maintaining the characters’ blurry qualities. The limited edition comes in the form of a leporello: Although they take their name from an opera character invented by the European composer Mozart, accordion folded books appear in many eras and cultures across the globe. The history of the leporello thus can be described as temporally and geographically ambiguous—it opens up space for the indeterminate.

During the writing and design of the present book, tacit conversations unfolded between the theoretical content and the limitations of the physical copy: as if the projection of the future book object spoke to me—the author/designer—about the limitations of its appearance, influencing decision-making. The effort to make performance part of the project culminated in me screen-printing all twenty copies myself.

The finished book copies continue the tacit conversations: In keeping with the theme, the kraft paper tells the stories of long journeys; white ink expresses non-standard printing; and the double-sided printing on continuous paper reveals hand-made methods.

This object will be presented at the TACK Conference in the object session LINEAGES, 20 June 2023 between 17:30 – 19:00 (CEST) at ETH Zürich (Auditorium HPV G5).

Eva Sommeregger is an architect/researcher, a Senior Scientist at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and a Senior Researcher at LMDA research institute of the Art Academy of Latvia. Eva is also co-founder of eyetry architecture and Magazin, an exhibition space for contemporary architecture in Vienna.