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Each of the book art exhibition organized for many years by Alicja Słowikowska has gathered a number of various items belonging to this branch of art. An increasing interest in book art is significantly ahead of precise indication of the "book art" term capacity.

Besides the early stage of this phenomenon, one of the reasons of inaccuracy affecting the thinking about new forms of a book is the fundamental dichotomy occurring between two aspects of it: a virtually existing verbal content and substantial form of recording it.

For example, when I'm saying I was reading the book by Gombrowicz I'm thinking about the first one, but when I'm asking where is the book by Gombrowicz? I'm thinking about another one.

In order to answer the question what the book art is, at the beginning I have to define what a book is and I will do this indicating its constituent parts. Here they are:

1. verbality
2. graphicality
3. physicality
4. processuality of reception

I'd like to mention that digitally recorded literature that has appeared recently does not make any fundamental changes except one: an electronic device is indispensable to start the process of reading.

If we give to these elements-categories the shape of four corners of tetrahedron then we will have a model of a solid having inside the space of book identity. The corners of the model are the book being a book limits and while approaching these limits (0) this identity fades away and disappears in the "0" point.

In the limit point "1" that belongs to the verbal category, when a word has neither graphic form nor any substanceness - then it isn't a book any more.

In the limit point "2", when a letter, illustration or other forms of recording a literature content do not convey words and the objectness is reduced in its function to the mere base of the sign, then it becomes a graphic print - it isn't a book any more.

In the limit point "3" a book becomes an object (a sculpture) using associations with its substantial form (volume, scroll, etc.) - it isn't a book any more.

In the limit point "4", when there is no need to be involved in reading or in any other form of gradual "uncovering" the content of the work during a certain passage of time, when it is entirely presented at once - it isn't a book any more.

Combining thus defined notion "book" with the notion "art" does not obliterate the sense of this model, however does change within it the mutual relations of its parts. This is so because in the case of a book all elements of its visual and substantial existence are submitted to word presentation. They are but servants of the word and don't have an independent artistic value.

In the case of book art all "dimensions" of book identity have equal rights, all are indispensable elements of the composition. The equal rights of "dimensions" make the language of articulation develop to four dimension space, where it becomes verbal-graphic-physical-procesual. This form of articulation is very close to the natural way of speaking among people when the communication is composed of the speaker's figure, gesticulation, intonation and spoken words.

Within the space of book art the "density" of categories can be distributed variously resulting in compositions with different dominants of these categories, from the states close to totality to the states close to entire obliteration, what gives us works spanning both the state of constituent parts balance and the state of one part domination. As I have mentioned above, within the limit conditions the book is no more a book. It is clear that this multidimensionality creates really powerful articulation capabilities.

As every young discipline, the book art, looking for its identity, is particularly involved in examining its limits what results in creation of many borderland works. Due to this both artists and curators should leave this discipline permanently unclosed (undefined). But this is why we get fascinating works and presentations and looking at them and reading them has always been for me a wonderful intellectual adventure.

Andrzej Bednarczyk
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