“It’s hard to describe what it’s like to watch a poem appear midair”

News Section, Reviews

June 24th, 2012

 

(Review) Between Page and Screen

American Scientist / On the Bookshelf

A Useful Pageant

ANNA LENA PHILLIPS

May-June, 2012

 

In most tellings, the relation between print and electronic media is a tense one. Between Page and Screen, by Amaranth Borsuk and Brad Bouse, teases out and tests the space between the two. In a series of letters between “P” and “S,” Borsuk makes page and screen lovers. This ongoing correspondence is interspersed with textual experiments—visual poems, sometimes animated, that play with words and their origins.

The book’s website describes it as a “digital pop-up book.” On each right-hand page sits a matrix barcode (often referred to by the trade name of “QR [quick response] Code”; the authors call them “markers”)—and nothing more. Readers must go to the book’s website, http://betweenpageandscreen.com, and hold the book up to a webcam (after adjusting Flash Player settings to allow website and computer to connect), which allows the site to “read” the marker. On the screen the reader sees herself and the book—and then a poem pops up three-dimensionally from the page. It’s hard to describe what it’s like to watch a poem appear midair, perhaps because Between Page and Screen embodies language in a way that resonates with my own experience of it. The shapes and sounds of words can have a reality equivalent to, or greater than, what exists in the 3D world. To see them moving within that world is deeply exciting.

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