The Complete 24-Hour Book
In 2012, with if:book Australia, I led a project that took a book from concept to print within a single 24-hour period. The book, titled Willow Pattern, was written and edited using an online platform where every edit made to the text was captured and stored in a database. Willow Patterns (plural) documents the complete output from that database: authors and editors at work.
The first phase of this project opened the database up and made the book free to browse, search and download as a set of editing data. We explored the numbers behind the book’s creation, drawing stories from graphs and making connections between the book’s content and it evolution. We then invited a group of poets and students to conceive and create ‘remixes’: artistic responses that relied less on the book as a finished product and more on it as a process, a series of alphanumeric strings to be pulled apart and reordered.
Through it all, though, was a desire to represent the project beyond a 150-page paperback or a searchable collection of fragments. We wanted to capture the epic scale of the project and provide a sense of the undertaking in something tactile, something visceral.
That meant producing the database in print.
This book collects and reproduces every version of every story from the 24-Hour Book project and lays them out in ink and paper and in chronological order.
It is published as a lavish 28-volume hardcover with a continuous spine design.
If the future of the book includes print as an aesthetic choice, then Willow Patterns highlights the possibility of printed books designed for purposes other than reading, borrowing from print’s powerful symbolism without devaluing the collected stories within.
Producing an online interface to browse and search data, as remarkable as that is, doesn’t capture attention quite like 28 hardcover books. And so, in 2015, I took Willow Patterns: The Complete 24-Hour Book on a very small World Tour.
In May 2015, Willow Patterns visited Melbourne Art Book Fair and, in September the same year, it was selected for the New Text exhibition at the 2015 ISEA Conference in Vancouver. Curated by Dene Grigar, New Text was an exhibit about the literary and artistic explorations into what it means to write, read, and create and featured works from Jason Nelson, Amaranth Borsuk, Nick Montfort, Silvio Lorusso, Andy Weir, and others.