Medium Superior to Message: Is there a Medium/Form Bias in the Book Arts Community?

By Jamie Runnells.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Since the concept came into being, society has had different ideas about what constitutes art. Some feel it is the medium that defines a legitimate art form and constitutes value, but this has raised debates over which mediums are considered valuable. Consequently there have been debates over the differentiation between fine arts (or high arts) and crafts. Likewise, varying production methods or intents within a single medium can spark debate about value and legitimacy. Each culture, generation, and practitioner has a perception of what mediums or forms are considered part of the art canon. Does the book art community also harbor ideas about value and legitimacy within its form? Is the codex more valuable than the accordion? Is a letterpress work more important than laser print work? This paper shares results from a survey of binders, curators and collectors from the US to see if they do have biases towards certain book art mediums, production and binding methods: in book arts, is medium superior to message?

Keywords: Book Arts, Artist’s Books, Mediums, Legitimacy, Value

The International Journal of the Book, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp.49-56. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 764.900KB).

Jamie Runnells

Associate Professor of Graphic Design, College of Architecture, Art and Design, Mississippi State University, Miss State, MS, USA

Jamie Runnells is an Associate Professor of Graphic Design at Mississippi State University. Her artists books have been shown in National and International juried exhibitions. Her freelance design work has been honored with numerous ADDY awards and has been seen in PRINT magazine’s Regional Design Annual. She has presented papers at the University and College Design Association’s National Design Education Conference, the Architecture of the Book International Conference, and has published in the Bonefolder, a juried on-line book arts publication.


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