The Make and Look Lockdown Book
Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Coventry University
How can we foreground the role of the reader as meaning-maker in a post-digital world?
My research involves looking at the role of the reader in constructing meaning from visual books. Specifically, I have been exploring how readers navigate and experience photobooks.
Through a series of interviews, observations and a survey with 178 photobook readers from around the world, I have been able to map a set of eight acts, performed by readers, which chart a relationship with the book from before it enters our hands, to well after it’s put down. Far from seeking to provide a blueprint for reading the photobook, these acts remind us of a significant part played by the reader in producing meaning, and influencing a book’s life.
Though my own subject has been a particular form of book, an emphasis on the often overlooked reader can be applied to other forms readily, and is something that Lucie recognised in her work as a children’s book author.
It’s this attempt to elevate and celebrate the reader that formed the foundation for our early discussions. Over the first few weeks of the project we met regularly online — seeking to grasp one another’s work, and the possibilities for a variety of outputs, as well as how reading was changing in lockdown.
As we continued our conversations we undertook several interviews with local readers of the photobook as well as children’s books to complement existing data and provide stimulus for Lucie’s artistic response. The DIY artists’ book which Lucie has produced provides a platform for readers to engage with the research in a physical way — quite literally making the meaning of the project. This, combined with the accompanying video and written contextual piece, is intended to encourage conversation about our part in reading — from how we picture characters in books to how we navigate pages, store our favourites and give, share or borrow books.
Author and artist
Author and artist Lucie Felix writes books that are experimental, using narrative and poetic devices to immerse the reader as the main character. Games and childhood are at the heart of her work, and The Make and Look Lockdown book is no different. Available to downloaded and print at home, along with instructions. Have a go yourself and see what you discover!
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Download the Make and Look Lockdown Book Instructions
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