Inter­ven­tions with­in books at Van­cou­ver Pub­lic Library, and ran­dom bookstores

The library is one of the last bas­tions of the demo­c­ra­t­ic poten­tial of a shared cul­tur­al con­scious­ness, a true pub­lic com­mons. In the library’s priv­i­leged posi­tion as site of demo­c­ra­t­ic access to infor­ma­tion, cre­ative forms of tex­tu­al man­i­fes­ta­tions, and as repos­i­to­ry of any num­ber of tex­tu­al and image archives, lit­er­a­cy and think­ing can take on many forms, whether the view­er inter­act with books or dig­i­tal media. Some­times library is used in the direct­ed pur­suit of par­tic­u­lar forms of knowl­edge (more instru­men­tal); at oth­er times it could be seen as more of a form of men­tal wan­der­ing, where one book or site leads to the next, through ref­er­ence to foot­notes and bib­li­ogra­phies or through click­ing onto a vari­ety of relat­ed links. Inves­ti­ga­tion is not con­fined to sat­is­fac­tion of aca­d­e­m­ic require­ments but also involves the cul­ti­va­tion and sat­is­fac­tion of intel­lec­tu­al curiosity.

Through sub­tle book inter­ven­tion, I cre­ate new men­tal paths to fol­low, either through the inser­tion of new infor­ma­tion relat­ed to the top­ic of the book, or through mak­ing con­nec­tions that lead to oth­er books (in which I have per­haps also made interventions)—this results in a kind of spec­tral trail cre­at­ed between books. These ephemer­al mes­sages, seem­ing­ly acci­den­tal, will engage the view­er to think about what Roland Barthes describes as the birth of the read­er,” which comes with the death of the author.” Sub­tle messages/interpretations are left behind in the books, mark­ing an inti­mate engage­ment with texts.

The title, Trap­pings, refers to some­thing being trapped, left behind, but also to the idea of the sup­ple­ment or orna­ment, some­thing in addi­tion to or super­flu­ous to the book itself. This relates to Jacques Derrida’s ideas on the sup­ple­ment, and the impor­tance placed on what comes after the text, what the text gives birth to in the reader—new unfore­seen forms of engage­ment with the world, and the pro­duc­tion of new tex­tu­al forms.