Force of Binding: On Liquid, Living Books (Version 2.0: Mark Amerika Mix)

Gary Hall

Artist’s Statement

‘Force of Binding: On Liquid, Living Books (Version 2.0: Mark Amerika Mix)’ addresses the subject of the unbound book. Specifically, it does so from the viewpoint of the question: ‘What do we have the right to bind as a book, legally, materially, economically and conceptually; and just as importantly, what do we have the right not to bind as a book?’

Thanks to open access, WordPress, Scribd, Smashwords and, producing a book is something nearly everyone can do today in a matter of minutes. Yet what is so interesting about recent developments in electronic publishing is not that bringing out a book is steadily becoming more like blogging or vanity publication, with authority and certification provided as much by an author’s reputation or readership, or the number of times a text is downloaded, cited, referenced, linked to, blogged about, tagged, bookmarked, ranked, rated or ‘liked’, as it is by conventional peer-review or the prestige of the press. All of those criteria retain fairly conventional notions of the book, the author, publication and so on. Far more interesting is the way today, in the era of online authorship, comment sections, social tags, RSS feeds, streaming video, augmented reality, 3D graphics, interactive information visualisations, geolocation search capabilities, remixes, mash-ups, and texts being generally connected to a network of other information, data and mobile media environments, the book is in effect liquid and living, open to being continually and collaboratively annotated, updated, supplemented, revised, re-ordered, remixed and reimagined. Consequently, what we think of as ‘publication’ is no longer an end point. Publication is rather just a stage in an ongoing process of unfolding.  So much so that perhaps soon we’ll no longer call such things books at all, e-, unbound, remixed or otherwise.

In this respect, ‘Force of Binding’ anticipates a new future strategy for scholarly production, and for the performance of contemporary theory in particular. It is a strategy that has moved away from thinking of writing and publishing primarily in terms of books and even essays and journal articles. Instead, the focus is on developing an expanded economy characterized by a multiplicity of models and methods of creating, writing, performing, disseminating, collecting, grouping, binding, storing, depositing, labelling, reading, searching and inter-acting with academic research and scholarship.

Version 1.0 of this text was first presented as ‘On Liquid, Living Books’ at The Unbound Book: Reading and Publishing in the Digital Age conference, held at Amsterdam Central Library and the Royal Library in Den Haag, May, 2011. The written form in which this text appears here is Version 2.0.

Source material includes:

Mark Amerika, ‘Sentences on Remixology 1.0’, remixthebook (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011).

Maurice Blanchot (1959), The Book to Come (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2003).

Ulises Carrión (1975), ‘The New Art of Making Books’, in James Langdon ed., Book (Birmingham: Eastside Projects, 2010).

Conference Statement, The Unbound Book: Reading and Publishing in the Digital Age, Amsterdam Central Library and the Royal Library in Den Haag, May 19-21, 2011 (

Jacques Derrida, ‘The Book to Come’, Paper Machine (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2005).

Gary Hall + (2001), ‘Pirate Philosophy Version 2.0’ (currently available at: ‘Pirate Philosophy Version 1.0’ appeared in Culture Machine 10, 2009.

Sol Lewitt, ‘Sentences on Conceptual Art’, first published in 0-9 (New York, 1969), and Art-Language (England, May 1969) (available at


Gary Hall is Professor of Media and Performing Arts in the School of Art and Design at Coventry University, UK, author of Culture in Bits (Continuum, 2002) and Digitize This Book!: The Politics of New Media, or Why We Need Open Access Now (Minnesota UP, 2008), and co-editor of New Cultural Studies: Adventures in Theory (Edinburgh UP, 2006) and Experimenting: Essays with Samuel Weber (Fordham UP, 2007). He is founding co-editor of the open access journal Culture Machine <>, co-founder of the Open Humanities Press <>, and co-editor of OHP’s Culture Machine Liquid Books series <>. His work has appeared in numerous journals, including Angelaki, Cultural Politics, Cultural Studies, Parallax and The Oxford Literary Review.

He is currently developing a series of politico-institutional interventions which draw on digital media to creatively perform critical and cultural theory; and writing two monographs: Media Gifts, designed as a follow-up to Digitize This Book!; and On the Limits of Openness: The Digital Humanities and the Computational Turn To Data-Driven Scholarship. Together with Clare Birchall, Joanna Zylinska and Open Humanities Press, he is also working on the JISC-funded project LivBL: Living Books about Life, a sustainable series of electronic open access books about life – with life understood both philosophically and biologically – which will provide a bridge between the humanities and the sciences.

More details are available on his website