I don’t read books. Of course, I have read a handful and own more than I can count, but I would never describe myself as a ‘big reader’ or a ‘booklover’. I have always been embarrassed to admit this. I think I’m smart, and everyone knows smart people read books.
Encyclopedias in particular have always been a complete mystery to me. Impossibly dense and bland, theoretically they contain the answers to any possible question in the world at the time of their printing. In their heyday they were also an important status symbol; a physical display of just how much a person valued education and knowledge, with the sets often costing multiple thousands of dollars (even more if you wanted the lovely bookcase to put them in). In practice, however, they were often a nightmare to use, and many of the previous owners told me that their books had never been opened.
The sea of knowledge that lies between the fans acts as a fond farewell to old vehicles for information, and as an illustration of the sheer volume of painstakingly produced words and pictures that have now become redundant. By including a large number of books I am attempting to come to terms with my own embarrassment and question what place and value this old, dusty method of storing, accessing, and showing off knowledge has in the future. In a world where we no longer have a collection of leather-bound books around to signify how well-read and intelligent we are, we are going to have to change how we make these judgements.
Booksmart celebrates a new digital age where our relationship with books and knowledge is more interactive, immediate, and accessible for everyone – and where the responsibility to judge the ‘facts’ is no longer on the authors, but the reader.