Science and the Artist's Book

An exhibition by the Smithsonian Institution Libraries and the Washington Project for the Arts


Herald of Science

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Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert
Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers [Encyclopedia, or descriptive dictionary of the sciences, arts and crafts]
Paris, 1751-1780

    This illustration from Diderot's Encyclopédie shows a compositor setting type in a printing shop, with diagrams of the tools used. The encyclopedia has ancient roots as a comprehensive way to organize knowledge. The 18th-century Enlightenment was the golden age of the encyclopedia, because of the efforts of Diderot and others to write articles on all significant political, social, cultural and scientific topics.

Artist's Book

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Scott L. McCarney
Diderot / Doubleday / Deconstruction
Rochester, New York, 1994
[altered book, laser prints]

    Scott L. McCarney crafts a book sculpture by carving into the pages of a discarded 20th-century encyclopedia volume. He copies the image of his 18th-century counterpart, the compositor setting type, by using the updated technology of computer-scanning and laser-printing.

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