Xerox Sigma V – Michael Hart typed on it the text of the Declaration of Independence / photo via Edie Bresler
In 1971, Michael Stern Hart, passionate technologist and futurist, was given access to extensive computer time on the Xerox Sigma V mainframe at the University of Illinois. He didn’t want to waste the time, and started to think of what to do with it. In an interview in 2002 he explained:
We were just coming up on the American Bicentennial and they put faux parchment historical documents in with the groceries. So, as I fumbled through my backpack for something to eat, I found the US Declaration of Independence and had a lightbulb moment.
This was it. Inspired by a free printed copy of the Declaration of Independence he decided to type the text into a computer. He did it on July 4, 1971. He made the file available to other users of the computer network, with an annotation that it was free to use and distribute.
It was the beginning of the legendary Project Gutenberg, the first project to make books freely available in digital format. Most of the books created in the first twenty years Michael Hart typed himself. By 1993 there were 100 books in the Project Gutenberg. Now the catalog offers 43,000 titles, all in the fashion started by Michael Hart – created voluntarily and free to use by every internet user.
I found the photo of Xerox Sigma V on Edie Bresler’s blog. The computer was produced by Scientific Data Systems (SDS) in 1967, costed $300,000 and initially had a memory size of 16K. You can see it in real at the Computer History Museum, where it was donated in 2002 by Carnegie Mellon University.
And if you ask what happened with the first ebook in the world – it’s there, Project Gutenberg’s ebook #1, available for download right now: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1.
There are many ways to express that books are an essential part of our life.Using books as building materials is not necessarily the good way. Street art with books in focus, without killing any, is one of the best.
I’m really excited to share this list, as I managed to find some fantastic examples of murals, that can’t be found on other lists of this kind. My favorite works are the Valencia stuff from a famous street art group Escif, but also the one painted by Andreyante AO in Nizhny Novgorod, and the mural in Łódź created by a Polish street artist Barys.
When going through a lot of fantastic pictures, I realized one thing. While a lot of street art is coming to mobile devices, in a variety of wallpapers or designer covers, almost no modern gadgets appeared so far on the streets – although they are becoming an important part of the daily life. I haven’t found any interesting mural with a Kindle or iPad, not mentioning people using them.
Obviously, this will be changing, and I’ll try to catch up by updating this post. If you know of any great street art that should be featured in this list, please share it in the comments.
Street art and murals about books, libraries, reading
Book Riot. The painting is a part of a series of murals painted in Valencia, Spain, by a group of artists and performers from Escif. ⇢ Credits.
Click on the image to enlarge
Literary Mural. This outstanding mural was created by Jane Brewster and is located in Portland, Oregon, in the neighborhood of Hawthorne Boulevard Books and Powell’s Books bookstores. ⇢ Credits.
Transformer Books. Art-Facade, mural art studio from Saint Petersburg, Russia, created in 20 days this great book mural art on a transformer sub-station near Rossiysky Prospect.
Instead of bricks, typical for transformer sub-stations, we see the bookshelf full of oversized classic literature titles. “The creative concept design allowed us to put an elegant link between safety regulations and the world’s famous titles.” ⇢ Credits and info.
Pilsen Books. This book-themed mural is a part of an ongoing street art project by Chicago-based creative collective, Pawn Works. The mural was painted in Chicago, on a lengthy old wall in Pilsen neighborhood. ⇢ Credits and info.
Reading Punk. A part of a street art project by Buenos Aires street artist Patxi Mazzoni Alonso.
The project’s idea is “to promote study, work, education and music and show the punks visually to people who have rejected them and don’t recognize who they are.” ⇢ More photos and info.
Education is the Key to Knowledge. Created by street artist Marcin “Barys” Barjasz, in Lódź, Poland. Photo by Regina Lang. ⇢ More info.
Reading While Growing Roots. A surreal mural in Nuñez, painted by a Colombian artist Loto. “A pseudo human being is reading while growing roots.” ⇢ More info.
Kid Reading. Mural on the side of the Trilok School on Waverly Avenue, Brooklyn. Created by a legendary Chile-based artist Nelson Rivas (Cekis). ⇢Photo credits.
Reading: A Journey. This huge mural was created by Donald Gensler, and can be seen in Philadelphia.
The mural is a part of The Mural Arts Program that has created more than 3,000 paintings representing important aspects of Philadelphia’s African American history. ⇢ Credits and more info.
Read. Sticker and poster campaign that started in 2005. Created by Brooklyn-based artist and performer Jay Giroux. ⇢ Credits and more info.
Climbing Over Books. Street art by Andreyante AO, in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. ⇢ Via.
Oye Read. From Brooklyn Street Art resources. Artist unknown. Photo by Jaime Rojo. ⇢ More info.
X-Times People Chair – Woman Reading. A part of a street art performance by a German artist and performer Angie Hiesl.
Elderly people sit on white chairs that are mounted on buildings at a height between three and seven meters. They perform rehearsed, everyday activities in a reserved manner: they read the paper, slice bread, fold clothes… ⇢Credits and more info.
La Bibliothèque. A small mural on a library building in small town near Fontainebleau, France. Pictured by Kelly Robic. ⇢ More info.
Dr Seuss “Read” Sculpture. This amazing giant display was made of 25,000 Dr. Seuss books in front of the New York Public Library, between the library’s iconic lion statues.
The sculpture was a collaboration between the National Education Association and Target Corporation, and is a part of the Target’s plan to donate $1 billion to education-related programs by 2015. ⇢ More info and photos.
Inside a Bookshelf. Mural by Susanna Hesselberg, in Örebro, Sweden. ⇢Credits, Via.
Bookstore Mural. Created on a side wall of Circle City Books and Music in Pittsboro. ⇢ Photo credits.
Wall of books. A 10-meter wall made of ceramic books, Amsterdam. ⇢ Photo credits.
Larchmere Mural. The mural graces the east wall of Loganberry Books bookstore, located in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Created by artist Gene Epstein, the painting reflects the neighborhood’s people and history. ⇢ More info.
La Bibliotèque De La Cité. A beautiful fresco-style mural on the façade of the Lyon Municipal Library, France. ⇢ More info.
School Bookshelf. This huge bookshelf was painted in a school yard in Tyumen, by Russian art group Color of the City. ⇢ Credits and more info.
Heart, Culture and Pedagogy. An amazing mural located in the College of the Sacred Heart of Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada, on a wall of Éva-Senécal library.
Created by artists from M.U.R.I.R.S. and influenced by master painters oftrompe-l’œil, it is a metaphor of the local literary universe, with more than 100 authors represented. ⇢ Credits and more info.
Flying Books. Jazz mural by artist Bill Weber on Jackson Square, San Francisco. Flying books in front are Brian Goggin’s “Language of the Birds” installation. ⇢ More info.
Library Mural. Created on seven walls of Ustroń Public Library, Poland, and taking over 500 square meters, the mural shows the interiors of the Trinity College Library in Dublin. ⇢ More info.
Dublin Digital Classics. A part of a street campaign by Dublin City Council to get the young generation interested in reading. ⇢ More info.