CONFLUENCE/COLLISION? explores the encounter of the traditional technologies and paradigms of Printing, Publishing, Illustration, Reading and Writing with those evoked or anticipated by the new digital media - the Internet being the latest (but by no means final) evolution.

Revisiting Walter Benjamin's essay - "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" - as a potential reference point for this exploration, one is struck, unexpectedly, by two very different streams of thought. The first is represented by Benjamin's rather intellectual musings on the concepts of authenticity and aura. The second is represented by Paul Valéry 's epigraph (below), which Benjamin chose to accompany his essay:

"Our fine arts were developed , their types and uses were established, in times very different from the present, by men whose power of action upon things was insignificant in comparison with ours. But the amazing growth of our techniques, the adaptability and precision they have attained, the ideas and habits they are creating, make it a certainty that profound changes are impending in the ancient craft of the Beautiful. In all the arts there is a physical component which can no longer be considered or treated as it used to be, which cannot remain unaffected by our modern knowledge and power. For the last twenty years neither matter nor space nor time has been what it was from time immemorial. We must expect great innovations to transform the entire technique of the arts, therby bringing about an amazing change in our very notion of art." Paul Valéry, Pièces sur L'art, "La Conquète de l'ubiquité"

Valéry projects the concepts of astonishment and anticipation, fear and confusion, perhaps even awe. It is no less in our present situation that these emotions must be addressed. Our sense of artistic self-expression is based on the level of technology we grow up with, just as the language skills we aquire then permit us to speak to one another. And just as language can only be effectively employed when it is used un-selfconsciously, so must technology be a tool that can be used without reflecting on its inner nature.Thus, at times such as now, we stop and regather our sense of what a new means of expression brings to us - even as we continue our activities as writers and artists and publishers and amateurs of the arts - so that we may proceed confident in our efforts.

With this in mind, I invite you to investigate, among others, the following issues:

  1. Copyright
  2. Archival quality
  3. Authorship, Aura, Authenticity
  4. Artistic production
  5. Interconnectivity
  6. Verisimilitude
  7. Distribution

More specifically, how has the computer and/or the Internet affected the nature of your work? What new avenues of expression or commerce has this new venue provided? What areas of confusion has it created? What is the "Book" of the 21st century? The "Artists' Book"? The "Livre d'Artiste"?

The book remains. It has already absorbed an on-slaught of new technologies, and has only, in response, flourished. Colophon Page is, itself, a manifestation of this evolution.

We invite your contributions in text and/or image. You are welcome to add links to existing web pages that illustrate your contribution. Larger files will be archived and linked from the forum page

Whether you see the present/future as Apocalypse or Utopia, I hope that you will want to add your opinion and explore that of others, as we anticipate , and perhaps influence, the evolution of new paradigms in the many arts that conspire to create a fine book.

James Wintner
Director/Colophon Page