Sunday, November 8, 2009

Airan Kang

Airan Kang from Jun Lee on Vimeo.

109 Lighting Books (2009) is "an installation by Airan Kang at the Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery for the group exhibition: 'Textual Landscapes' showcasing books that are made from fiber optics and enclosed in plastic. Though the books don’t contain any actual text, they serve as physical representations of poets and philosophers that have influenced Kang." (

I was drawn to the LED lights and shifting colors portrayed in books on shelves. I think it's possible that Kang wanted to have us hold on and appreciate the origins of a concrete book or anything that is written down, and to see that things are constantly being changed and improved while still holding on to the roots of the original concept, in this case, a book. The bright LED lighting on the books in plastic cases seem to illuminate the significance books have had on her and everyone while at the same time giving a new perspective on the way we think of and look at books. I was also reminded of Pop Art and Andy Warhol. I wish I could've found Kang's statement on her piece or her creative decisions on how she chose to display the books since we see mostly original book covers and spines. There's also a possibility that she wanted to show methods on how books have been displayed, how some book covers are more apparent than other books (showing the book's spine versus the cover), and how some might "judge books by their covers," since the text inside the books are not shown. Then again the books in the piece are Kang's personally chosen books that have influenced and made a significant impact on her. The books are not alphabetically ordered, and I like that it shows her admiration for the books and how anyone and any idea have influenced her. I wish I knew if she had a specific order in placing the books. It would be interesting if the books were chronologically ordered from the time she first read them and how people and ideas have influenced her at various times. Or if the books placed in the middle were one of the most significant books to her or if she wanted to equally show the importance of all of the books. I also like how the gallery website allows me to zoom in and get a closer look (but not close enough) at the piece and a video to show the shifting colors displayed on the books. I think this also gives the artist a way to reveal what has influenced her to viewers without us seeing her or having heard from her in person. Viewers can also connect with the artist's interests since we might have similar interests.

This piece made me think of the way books are being read today. I now have many Blackboard readings and Blackboard journal entries as a part of my assignments for many of my courses. I like that electronic readings saves paper and reduces waste. I also save a lot of money since I don't have to buy the books if they are provided on Blackboard or online. Also, researching on the web is faster and somewhat easier with Google, links for further research, online encyclopedias, and online search catalogs. I find myself reading more and more from my laptop now because I can find many articles and sources online in one setting. I still personally like having a book to read since I think books can also expand on more than what we might see online. I can also physically bookmark or write notes, take a book where ever I go, turn pages, etc. but it is also a little inconvenient to carry and look into several books at a time. I also like searching for books on shelves and physically going to bookstores. When I was on the Metro, I found around half of the people reading from their e-book readers and around half reading from a book. It will be interesting to see if and when more people might buy the e-book readers as the price decreases and if it becomes more popular in demand. From The New Yorker, there was an article online by Nicholson Baker talking about's e-book reader, "Kindle." Baker makes an interesting point in the article: "Maybe the Kindle was the Bowflex of bookishness: something expensive that, when you commit to it, forces you to do more of whatever it is you think you should be doing more of."
I personally would rather have a book in my hands to read (and I don't have an e-book reader), but what happens when books become increasingly read electronically? We even recently experienced the switch from analog to digital television. It seems that we are constantly changing and improving the way we view something.


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