February 3, 2012

VIDEO: Pop-up books go 3-D, as if they weren’t before


It appears books have reached yet another milestone in the relentless forward march of unnecessary but still kinda cool progress. Digital Buzz Blog shares the above video demonstrating a new “augmented reality pop-up book” called Between Page and Screen by Amaranth Borsuk and Brad Bouse. The book comprises a series of letterpress-printed symbols which, when held up to your computer’s webcam, unleash pop-up poems in virtual space.

Of course, when I was a kid, pop-up books existed in regular reality and that seemed to work just fine for everyone, thank you very much, but the underlying philosophy of augmented reality books isn’t entirely unlike Melville House’s own HybridBooks series, which aims to enhance the reading experience with supplementary material in the digital realm. The distinction is that Between Page and Screen aims to transform the reading experience altogether, raising an interesting question about the possibilities of poetry in the digital age. Were he alive today, would E. E. Cummings experiment not only with spelling, punctuation, and grammar, but with poems that animate or exist in three dimensions? It’s tempting to dismiss this use of technology as mere gimmickry, but Cummings’s critics accused him of no less. Could the ebook revolution, such as it is, be launching a new platform for serious artistic innovation?

Whatever it means, one thing’s for sure: this augmented reality dinosaur book beats the hell out of any pop-up book I had as a kid.


Christopher King is the former Art Director of Melville House.