Frank­furt fair shakes up book world with art, tech gad­gets

Log­i­cal step as creative in­dus­tries be­come more con­nected

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

FRANK­FURT: There will still be more books than you could ever read, but vis­i­tors to this week’s Frank­furt Book Fair will also be in­vited to don vir­tual re­al­ity gog­gles, visit an in­ter­ac­tive class­room and dis­cover 3Dprinted art as pub­lish­ers plug into new tech­nol­ogy. Or­ga­niz­ers of the world’s largest pub­lish­ing event say the fo­cus on art and tech­nol­ogy is a log­i­cal next step as the creative in­dus­tries be­come ever more con­nected. The fair, which opens on Wed­nes­day and is ex­pected to draw some 275,000 vis­i­tors, has al­ways been about “con­tent-re­gard­less of its for­mat”, the event’s vice-pres­i­dent Hol­ger Vol­land told AFP.

Among the main draws at the five-day gath­er­ing will be vir­tual re­al­ity ex­pe­ri­ences, with sev­eral ex­hibitors un­veil­ing projects that plunge vis­i­tors into a world that un­til then only ex­isted on the page. Tai­wanese artist Jimmy Liao’s pic­ture book, “All of My World Is You”, will come to life once vis­i­tors slip on a VR head­set that will al­low them to in­ter­act with the main char­ac­ter, a mys­te­ri­ous young girl, and com­plete chal­lenges to make her smile.

In the spot­light as guest of honor is the lit­er­ary cul­ture and lan­guage of Flan­ders and the Nether­lands, who have cre­ated three sep­a­rate VR ex­pe­ri­ences, in­clud­ing one al­low­ing users to al­ter­nate be­tween the per­spec­tives of a fa­ther and his nineyear-old daugh­ter who are mourn­ing the loss of a fam­ily mem­ber. “Lit­er­a­ture ex­ists not just on the page,” said Suzanne Meeuwis­sen of the Dutch Foun­da­tion for Lit­er­a­ture, a coini­tia­tor of the projects, point­ing to re­cent No­bel Lit­er­a­ture Prize win­ner Bob Dy­lan as an ex­am­ple.

Vir­tual re­al­ity is a brand new can­vas, she said, and “writ­ers and artists are hun­gry to ex­plore this un­fa­mil­iar ter­ri­tory”. Ed­u­ca­tional pub­lish­ers are also tap­ping into new tech­nol­ogy, from text books that can be made in­ter­ac­tive with the help of an app to 3D print­outs of or­gans to use in bi­ol­ogy lessons. In the “Class­room of the Fu­ture”, vis­i­tors can watch stu­dents and teach­ers try out the lat­est in­no­va­tions. It re­mains to be seen, of course, to what ex­tent all these ideas can gen­er­ate rev­enues for pub­lish­ers and cre­ators, a ques­tion that will be a hot topic in Frank­furt.

‘Next Rem­brandt’

Such is the fo­cus on creative con­tent across dif­fer­ent me­dia that there will even be a “fair within a fair” this year, called Arts+, where artists, ar­chi­tects and mu­se­ums will talk about the chal­lenges and op­por­tu­ni­ties of work­ing with digital tech­nol­ogy-and show off some re­sults. Vol­land de­scribed Arts+ as a place to “dis­cuss new busi­ness mod­els and syn­er­gies be­tween art and tech­nol­ogy”.

One of the high­lights will be a project called “The next Rem­brandt” in which a Dutch team used ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and a 3D printer to cre­ate a “new” work by the mas­ter painter based on a com­puter al­go­rithm that worked out the av­er­age fea­tures of a typ­i­cal Rem­brandt sub­ject.

But at its heart, the Frank­furt fair is for book lovers and with over 7,000 ex­hibitors from more than 100 coun­tries, vis­i­tors will get the chance to dis­cover thou­sands of new ti­tles in all imag­in­able gen­res. One of the big­gest names to at­tend will be Bri­tish con­tem­po­rary artist David Hock­ney, who will un­veil an over­sized, 500-page book il­lus­trat­ing his life’s work, from the fa­mous sun-soaked swim­ming pool paint­ings of the 1960s to his re­cent series of iPad draw­ings. The signed, lim­ited edi­tion tome is so large that it will come with its own stand and a price tag of 2,000 Euros ($2,200). Adding a touch of royal flair to this year’s event will be Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Bel­gium’s King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, who will open the Dutch-Flem­ish pavil­ion on Tues­day, on the eve of the of­fi­cial kick-off. The Frank­furt fair dates back over 500 years, with the first edi­tion tak­ing place shortly after the Guten­berg print­ing press was in­vented in nearby Mainz.

—AFP

FRANK­FURT: This file photo taken on Oc­to­ber 09, 2013 shows fair­go­ers vis­it­ing the Frank­furt Book Fair.

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