The Material Archive

Shelves from the Ringling Rare Book Collection
Shelves from the Ringling Rare Book Collection

From the collection a wealth of materials greets us as sensual and material stimuli: the musty smell of old books, decay made slower by carefully applied temperature and low, warm lighting. Exploring further, find the rough surfaces and uneven pages, the grit of left-over particles and dust left on our hands from aged bindings. These are beautiful old things. A proper book contains innumerable small rips and tears from good use evidence of mistakes made, regardless. Books reflect our flaws. Our imperfect frame is reflected on the page. And yet, note the careful way we hold the spine while peering through their contents. Words are made from lines, points, and curves, a literal evidence of history’s printing practices. Illustration is by way of gravure, intaglio, wood, and metal engravings doused in ink and set to the page. It is innumerable people set to the process of making. This is book-as-object and as concept. Containing much more than you would expect.

-Corey Culbertson


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