Étienne Mineur, hacker of books
"The books which wants to be a videogame"
Rich with experience in the digital world, designer Étienne Mineur decided, around two years ago, to reclaim the book, this mighty paper giant whose end has been prophesied by many. An excursion into his studio ahead of his exhibition at la Gaîté lyrique.
Diamonds, sabers, treasure chests... bits of conversation, carrying the enticing aroma of piracy, float through the Editions Volumiques studio
. Étienne Mineur is looking for a new icon for (i)Pirate, a game where the cell phone becomes a ship traversing the seas of a large poster in blue and green. "Paper video games" is how the designer describes one of their principal activities, the other being actual books - from the somewhat special publishing house that he set up with Bertrand Duplat two years ago.
"People want to put books into computers. We on the other hand, put the computer into books." Étienne Mineur's phrase, like the rest of his conversation, is well developed. What had been an experimental enterprise to begin with has turned into a company brimming with projects and clients. By computer, the designer means mainly the Smartphone
, the phone that everyone has or will soon have in their pocket, he predicts, and which will be used to read, play and live in general. "Like electricity and hot water, we are at a point of no return with these telephones", he declares.
From the era of the minitel to that of iPhone applications, passing via CD-ROMs, Étienne Mineur has been through the entire course of the digital age and has always heard that the book was heading towards certain death. "Wrong!" He says, defying the prophecy. Not only does he still read, he has grown weary of the computer screen as well. He is convinced that nothing can replace the physical object for evoking emotions. Paper speaks to the heart; the screen does not.
After several more-or-less weird attempts, which allowed them to test the mechanisms involved, Editions Volumiques have just installed the base on which to develop their prototypes. Today, they work with editors, people from the field of video games and toys. Étienne Mineur remarks that in contrast to the world of games, which is in general more open to new ideas, the book publishing world is more wary: "Publishing methods have not changed for 500 years. Here, we are going through a revolution in publishing and printing with digital tablets. "For these mechanisms to move beyond being mere gadgets, for them to give rise to new modes of reading, writers must also take them up. In fact, these books entail new forms of writing and consequently, of appropriation. "The book will become a more and more precious object. It will turn radical in its quality. "
is not the future I want; I prefer Harry Potter
and his magic books" he says, before talking of ubiquitous computing
, the idea of having computers everywhere in our lives, but invisibly. "We no longer know where to put our computers! They need to disappear...or rather, to dissolve", explains Étienne Mineur. And all these computers in our cell phones and cars will form a unified intelligence. All that is left is to have these computers communicate with each other," he says, referring to Marc Weiser's theory
."It is what we call peaceful computing - which does not disturb our world but fits within it." Without putting it in words, he is working towards a transparent and reassuring form of computing, toning down technology and its intrusion into our daily life.
Paper video games & hacked books: nuggets from the Editions Volumiques' treasure chest.
The book that turns its own pages
" Turn a book upside down, put in a vibrate function, change the pace of reading, make it turn its pages on its own... We hack books in the noble sense."
" After 20 minutes, it completely self-combusts. Normally it is the reader who sets the pace. What does giving a lifespan to a book signify? "
" My son used my iPhone like a boat...We turned it into a horizontal video game while keeping the tangible and user-friendly nature of a board game. "
"At every page, 3 new choices, that is, 729 possible endings."
"It is our latest project. After slipping an iPhone into the book - and downloading the application, one can, on every page, press on a red spot to have it play a piece from Pierre & le Loup's music."
Persistance #1 : les éditions Volumiques
From 27 Sep to 6 Oct 2011
Etienne Mineur et Bertrand Duplat sont les premiers invités de Persistance. A découvrir : papier et iPads créent des livres-jeu à manipuler… Read more