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The Consistency of Shadows : CD-ROM exhibition catalog

The Consistency of Shadows : Exhibition Catalogs as Autonomous Works of Art was an exhibition that investigated relationships between catalogs and the exhibitions they document and represent. Featuring approximately 120 exhibition catalogs from the 1960s to the present, the exhibition highlighted ways that these documents depart from their usual function as mere memory of an event and instead function as works of art. The catalog for the exhibition itself is also designed as a work of art, including custom package design by Kevin Henry and an experimental, interactive CD-ROM by Ben Chang. The exhibition was curated by Anne Dorothee Boehme, specal collections librarian at the Joan Flasch Artists' Book Collection.

The CD-ROM's interface is designed with the idea of exhibition catalogs as both memories and as autonomous objects. It contains images of the whole collection of catalogs in the exhibition, including covers and images from inside pages, as well as a video interview with artist Christian Boltanski. Rather than presenting the material through traditional interface designs, alphabetical listings, or other organizing schemes, each item appears as one of a cloud of shadows, drifting in circular currents. Pulling these shadows up brings up the images, text, and other materials, making the interface itself an act of reaching towards something which is hard to grasp and has a life of its own.

The catalog for Consistency of Shadows received a 2004 IDEA Award (Industrial Design Excellence Award) from the Industrial Design Society of America, and a 2003 Good Design Award from the Chicago Athenaeum.

For more information about the exhibition, or to order a copy of the catalog, see the exhibition's pages at the Betty Rymer Gallery.