Unlearning the Book and Learning it Again

I wasn’t sure what to expect on day one. I arrived on time and spent ten minutes walking around looking at the artworks framed so tightly around each other. I think I got overwhelmed immediately and I continue to feel so still, as I deconstruct my new surroundings everyday.

In the first two days, we introduced ourselves several times to each other in different ways. We all sat in a circle next to people we didn’t know. I found it hard to find one artwork to describe myself. There were elements of me everywhere! Each activity was designed to break our inhibition and allow ourselves to begin learning.

We truly multitasked when we were told to:

  1. Throw a ball to someone. (Example: Piu)
  2. Look at Piu while you throw the ball at her
  3. Say Piu’s name while you throw the ball at her
  4. Listen for your name to be yelled
  5. While maintaining eye contact with Piu, develop another eye contact with Antara.
  6. Receive ball in hand from Antara.
  7. Repeat process several times, till not only do you loose the ball, but forget your own name. Strangely enough, it worked, and everyone’s names are etched in my memory forever.

My most exciting process was the autobiography. I think we’ve all made mental blurbs for our autobiographies at some point or the other. That day I played the role of a publisher, an author, a crowd questioner at a book launch, and a detective with the sole purpose of finding the author of the book I held in my hand. Finally, the several ways of writing ‘six’ really summed up the introduction for me.

Books engulf all your senses. They seem to be taking a shape of their own in my life. After our visit to the printing press with Ronnie, I suddenly felt very nervous about handling the book. The printing press was big with many people enveloped in the toxic smell of ink and machinery. Coming from the perception of book making being a very manual process, I was somewhat taken aback with the big machinery that surrounded me interspersed with many people still manually putting the book together.

Books are our invention to contain knowledge or images within paper, bound tightly so that they don’t escape. And now this ‘ containing unit ’ is becoming innovative, beautiful, rich and exploratory.

QuarkXpress has made my life into a series of boxes, isolated images, textures and colours. I am beginning to rediscover my love for visual details that I had stopped seeing. Now with a 300dpi CMYK image, it’s possible to make approximately a billion designs, which, well, scares me.

To be honest, I am finding it hard to articulate this marvellous explosion of literature and design in my mind. I truly believe that we must unlearn the book to learn it again.

Finally, I’d like to ask all of you to help me with something. I am not much of a reader, but I want to be. I’d like to begin with a simple book and you can help me decide.  And, let this also be an opportunity for people to edit my blog piece. It’s a gold mine for grammar and syntax errors.


Devika Dave


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