"As libraries become increasingly digitized through projects like Google Books, what gets lost? What do we lose—and what can we gain—in the transition from physical objects to digital forms? How does the dematerialization of books effect our understanding of them? Can digital books be made physical again?
Special Collection consists of a dozen hand-sewn books, each partial recreations of books found on Google Books. Each is reproduced at its original size, revealing multiple disruptions and errors, introduced during Google’s own scanning process: the scanner’s hand, holding down and obliterating the page; type and illustrations which have degraded and blurred to the point of illegibility; pages scanned while in the process of being turned; fold-out maps and charts that were scanned while closed. Some of these artifacts are beautiful and evocative. They are the found poetry of this new machine. This publication is a paperback edition of all twelve books in a single volume.
By reinvesting these digital books with physical form, Special Collection asks us to consider the contradictions and unintended consequences of technological advance. Approaching Google Books through its fissures offers a chance to peek behind the curtain of a mysterious, complicated endeavor, which is little understood and generally taken for granted as progress. By using Google’s scans and resources to create this work, I am both highlighting the potential of this new era of distribution and access, and questioning Google’s claims of ownership of all the world’s information." - Benjamin Shaykin