Transforming Artist Books is a new research development network here at Tate. It’s a collaborative project between Tate, Chelsea College of Art and Design, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the British Library. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and running from February to August 2012, the network is exploring the possibilities for artist books in the digital realm. I’m a bit late getting to this, but what are we actually interested in anyway?

Well, with the growth of digital technology, there is a new expectation among potential users of artist books and those that collect and care for them that the activities of making, cataloguing, storing, displaying, handling and looking at artist books can and should be enhanced by the digital. This research begins from recognition that important national collections of artist books are not as accessible as they could be and that this situation can be transformed through digital technology. Rather than viewing the computer screen and electronic text and image as a challenge or threat to the physical printed page, the research network will explore the potential of the digital to transform our understanding, appreciation and care of artist books.

These issues are being explored through a series of themed workshops pertinent to the study of artist books and digital transformations. The first of those ‘Transforming the Medium’ took place in March, the second ‘Transforming Creation’ popped up on my calendar last week and a third workshop ‘Catalogues and Copyright’ is scheduled to take place very soon. I promise to will write more about these events soon.

I hope that gives you a flavour of what we are doing. I’ll be setting out some of the questions we addressed in future posts so I do hope some of you will respond to those questions with your own ideas.