Spotlight: Visual Editions

Spotlight: Visual Editions
What does a journey mean to an individual? What makes up the journey of a reader through a story? Through a painting? Visual editions, a publishing house founded by two women in 2010, is embarking on a quest to address these questions and some more.

In December Where You Are will celebrate exploration, the idea of travel, the meaning of a journey. In this project, 16 authors, thinkers, and artists were invited to create maps of their stories. This includes Sheila Heti writing a pocket I Ching and Tao Lin discussing space hamsters.

Their stories, essays, and artwork of response were put together as 16 individually designed maps. Each of these maps unfolds into a chart of the contributor’s response.

Responses range from Chloe Aridjis’ map of the daily journeys of a homeless woman in Mexico City to John Simpson’s essay looking at the perils of following GPS systems in South Africa.

These lead to James Bridle mapping the technology itself to look at how GPS was developed in the first place. A painting by Leanne Shapton documenting her everyday desk objects at the end of each working day and there’s another one by Geoff Dyer mapping out his childhood in Cheltenham according to sex, death and drugs.

The book claims to lead its readers on a journey and leave them feeling completely lost and a book that’s a box of maps is unusual, even for publishers that constantly push the boundaries of creativity.

The result will force readers into a new and innovative way of looking at maps, not just as tools to get from one place to another, but to find a story in it, or to make a map of the story.

To add to the interaction quotient of the project is the beautifully designed website. Publicist Saskia Vogel, of Visual Editions says “The website redefines social reading and gives readers from around the world a sense of where they are in the text, on the planet and in the conversation about the collection.”

In what seems to be a map app crossed with a short story crossed with a book club, this website, which was created in collaboration with Google’s Creative Lab, promises to be a treasure trove of ideas and inspirations.

The reader is allowed to understand the shape of the text, see where they are in the book, how many other readers are also exploring the text and where they are – on the page, in the book and in the world. A rolling feed brings all media and social media mentions of the book into one place, placing the reader at the heart of the communal experience of ‘Where You Are’.

This is going to be a book of maps and a map of books. Taking the reader from the notions of a dusty and worn copy of an age old navigator to the post digital age of virtual pins, this project is sure to appeal deeply to a reader’s perception of the visual element in books. And we can’t wait!