When it comes to interesting and unusual publications, Visual Editions can be relied upon to pioneer the kind of titles that turn a lot of heads. For four years now Anna Gerber and Britt Iversen have been exploring the ways in which content and form can be manipulated, subverted and toyed with to create something very special. After huge acclaim for their latest work Where You Are the time was ripe to sit down with Anna and Britt and find out a bit more…
Can you describe the project for those who don’t know what it is…
Where You Are is a book of maps. Our starting point was this: maps, how we relate to them, how we use them, what we think of them and how we think they they’re changing. We’re shifting away from maps that tell us how to get from A to B and instead we’re looking at how we map every day. We map through our Instagrams, our Facebooks, we map our lives through our photographs, we are mapping in new and different ways all the time.
In response to this, we wanted to explode the idea of the map and asked 16 writers, thinkers and artists to send us their personal maps. The result is a rich treasure trove, a box and a website with 16 different maps, by 16 wonderfully diverse voices, full of maps as we know them and maps as we’ve never seen them before –without a Facebook timeline in sight.
How did you go about selecting the writers to work on the project with?
We wanted a textured spread, to bring people together that might not typically be brought together and to get a broad mix of responses; ranging from Alain de Botton’s philosophical precis to Tao Lin’s insane sci-fi hamster world to Leanne Shapton’s abstract tablescape paintings.
Was there anyone you wanted to ask but didn’t?
No, we’re never shy of asking. We say: “That person is amazing, let’s reach out to them and hope they say yes.” And most of the time they do.
If you were going to create your own map, what would it be like?
One big infinite colourful mess. With plenty of unexpected turns.
What was the inspiration for the design?
Bibliotheque loved the idea of designing and curating an archive box of maps. Tapping into our traditional ideas of what maps used to be, how they feel and how we store them and taking that design sensibility and making it feel contemporary, relevant and unexpected.
The Workers, long term collaborators with Bibliotheque) designed the open access www.where-you-are.com, shifting the idea from a treasure trove archive box of textured maps to a zoomable, scrollable, infinite spread of maps and stories, sharing all of Where You Are as well as showing where you, as a reader, are within the site.
What was the process of piecing all of the writers together like?
Part of the curatorial/editorial (on our part) and the design (on Bibliotheque’s and The Workers’ part) decision making was to make sure that each piece could live on its own while also clearly being part of a larger body of work. In some ways, Where You Are is 16 separate books. It’s 16 books that are born from the same place – exploding the idea of maps – and leading to the same place; making readers feel completely lost.