The Consistency of Shadows

Client: Anne Dorothee Boehme and the Betty Rymer Gallery

Year: 2003

Description: CD-ROM, with seven offset printed booklets, housed in a custom-designed, vacuum-formed acrylic box

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.  It was the first significant show of its kind focusing on catalogs created by artists for their own exhibitions.  The catalog for the exhibition 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, special 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, please visit the website for SAIC’s Sullivan Galleries Publications.




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