Friday, October 28, 2011


The massive surge of art book publishing in New Zealand feels weird in the age of the iPad and other e- readers and, let's face it, the age of the digitisation itself. Sure you can hunt and peck through any art book but the flow is generally left to right, page one to page whatever. 

The American artist Doug Aitken has never been a great lover of linear forms and he has now taken his explorations of multi-level story telling into the free (yes, free) iPad app Altered Earth. Here you can join him on one of his meandering explorations, or you can select images, films and sounds to make your own story, installations and connections. Bolstering Reader Power, the app never seems to start you off the same way or even offer the same images all the time.

The setting is the Camargue region in Southern France, a bleak landscape of marshes, deserted salt mines and abandoned fortifications. Today its beauty is being transformed again as bird and plant life flourish. While the app can be frustrating to navigate (it was very slow to install), it does show the potential of this type of presentation. If you have an iPad, pull a copy down. You might find the future of art books in your hands.
Images: Doug Aitken’s Altered Earth commissioned by the LUMA Foundation for Parc des Ateliers in Arles