Book Arts

Awaiting Transmission
31/10/08 – 05/11/08
E. F. Stevens

We invited the artist E.F. Stevens, who lives and works in Boulder, Colorado, USA, to produce a phone-based piece for our AHRC project this winter, as a series of short, texts to create an artist’s book in five instalments (plus afterword).

Her practice includes artists’ books, installation, video and phone text-based works, and this short piece was written and sent by her in 160 character installments to people who responded to her offer of the free transmissions, for 6 days from 31st October 2008.

E.F. Stevens has allowed us to also upload the texts here after the event for viewing as part of the project archive.


I’m just outside Denver. All the kids are taking pictures of me on their v-phones, they think it’s so funny, I mean, who goes hunting for a book on Halloween!

It’s 25 years since the oil ran out, but now we have power you’d think someone would have produced some paper again. I’d love to touch some to see how it feels.

I’m in Boston – it’s mid-day but dark, and it’s hot with this mask on. They still haven’t cleared properly, there’s dust on everything; the whole city is gray.

Casey said there used to be a library here on 12th St, so I had to check it out and – look on your screen – I found an old date-stamper, shall I bring it back?

I thought Stan said that Kinko’s used to be on every corner? This must be the 200th we’ve checked out and all we have ever found are bits of old Xerox 4595s.

Imagine if we found enough parts to rebuild one! Although how would we show people how it worked if there’s nothing to copy on it and nothing to feed into it?

Can we go any faster? I really want to get there and find out it isn’t some cruel joke, you don’t think it is do you? I hope not, she sounded so, well – real.

I can’t believe we’re going to see a real book! You don’t think the BRU might get to her first? No, not unless their v-monitors picked up on her transmission.

After all these years we get to see one! It must have been printed on one of the old machines Stan told us about; it’s lasted all this time, it’s so beautiful.

If we made more and got people to read again we could start a whole new way of thinking. Hey, was that someone at the window, who’s out there? Hello? Hello? …

Afterword: The BRU – Book Reintegration Unit was set up by the government 3 years after WWIII, when its citizens had burnt all known books and paper for fuel.

The BRU actively searched, using dubious methods to procure and sell books covertly to help recoup the huge oil-war debts. It was officially disbanded in 2039.


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