Connecticut College Magazine · Winter 2013

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Cover:
The new science center at New London Hall. Photo by Bob Macdonnell

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Magazine Slideshow - Winter 2013
Photo by Ron Cowie
Big River, 2004, by Karen Hammer. Number 6 out of an edition of 20.

Reading a book is primarily a mental activity, with physical interaction limited to the thoughtless action of page-turning. In this work, physical interaction with the work is essential for engaging with the work’s content. The viewer tries to maneuver metal balls into a series of small holes which correspond to the cities mentioned in Johnny Cash’s "Big River." In the song, the narrator pursues his beloved down the Mississippi, and the viewer’s inevitable feeling of frustration accompanying this difficult exercise gives insight to the singer’s tragic desperation. Physical interaction, instead of merely supporting the reading mechanism, becomes the primary mode of deciphering meaning.

Watch a related video of Professor of Art Andrea Wollensak discussing three other examples of artist's books
 
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