56 Broken Kindle Screens (2012)

56 Broken Kindle Screens is a print on demand paperback that consists of found photos depicting broken Kindle screens. The Kindle is Amazon’s e-reading device which is by default connected to the company’s book store. The book takes as its starting point the peculiar aesthetic of broken E Ink displays and serves as an examination into the reading device’s materiality. As the screens break, they become collages composed of different pages, cover illustrations and interface elements.

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Photographed E Ink, Collected Online, Printed On Demand

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Artist Statement

56 Broken Kindle Screens is a print on demand paperback that consists of found photos depicting broken Kindle screens. The Kindle is Amazon’s e-reading device which is by default connected to the company’s book store.

The book takes as its starting point the peculiar aesthetic of broken E Ink displays and serves as an examination into the reading device’s materiality. As the screens break, they become collages composed of different pages, cover illustrations and interface elements.

Although the book is often perceived as Glitch Art, it is in fact not showing errors deliberately produced by us. All broken screens are taken from photos we found online, and that were each taken by different persons. When viewed in the book, or – as in the case of the Kindle Edition – on the Kindle itself, the photos have undergone several transformations (virtualization and reification) that constitute a sort of media assembly line: photographed E ink, collected online, stored in the cloud, printed on demand or displayed as E ink again.

We decided to release the print version as a standard print on demand paperback because we think that is what comes closest to an e-book bought on Amazon. It is those cheaply produced books that the e-book is about to replace.

The broken screens make visible a fundamental difference between printed book and e-book: in a dramatic change of materiality, the book turns into electronics, code and data. This opens up new and interesting possibilities, but also raises questions that should be kept in consideration and that need to be dealt with: by using the Kindle, and by feeding it with books we buy on Amazon, we're giving up a big part of our self-determination over our personal libraries, our reading devices, and over the selection of books that we can read. In the end, we're becoming guests on a company's cloud, where we are allowed to stay and to consume as long as we play by the rules.

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