Way back in 2005, David Garcia Studio came out with a project called The Archive series. I came across it just yesterday, and couldn’t resist featuring it here. The project has to deal with the way that people interact with and store books. There are four “archives in the series,” and I’ll run through them all briefly.
Archive I consists of a conventional bookcase on one end of an immense beam on a fulcrum. At the other end is a small reading chair. The idea is that the more the bookcase is filled with books, the higher the chair rises. It’s a neat idea, but to me it seems a little gimmicky. I’m not sure it is visually or practically interesting enough to warrant the space it occupies.
Archive II, on the other hand, is both visually and conceptually brilliant. It’s a circular bookcase that resembles a hamster wheel. You can step right into the center and walk the library around. I love this quote from David Garcia: “Archive II is a circular library for the nomad book collector, allowing the user to step inside, and walk away with half a ton of books.”
Archive III is called the “censored book stand,” and it’s both comical and poignant. Physically, it’s a small wooden stand with three mechanical display surfaces that feature open books. However, when someone approaches, the stand snaps the books shut, sealing them until the curious would-be reader leaves. It’s a provocative concept: a book that can be seen, but never read; a book constantly on display, but never available for scrutiny.
Archive IV is the most mundane of Garcia’s installations, if only because it resembles something you might actually see in a library somewhere. It’s a hanging, cylindrical space with books lining the interior. You enter through an open door, and can sit on the benches inside or even climb a rope ladder to the upper level. It’s meant to make people think about the spaces in which books are presented. It succeeds, but in a pretty impractical, inimitable way.
One of the things that I like most about the Archives series is that it focuses on books. That might not seem that out of the ordinary, but these days there’s such a focus on digital media and the digitization of books through devices like the Kindle and now the iPad, that it’s refreshing to see someone not just touting the value of print media, but actually rethinking ways of displaying and engaging with it. Books are simple, but there is still room for innovation in the functional and aesthetic gap between text and reader.