Fibre Libre is an artist’s book that tells the story of a group of people, learning about free software while learning to make paper. It is the first manifestation of the Open Edition project.
Fibre Libre began as an event, which took place at Asheville BookWorks in the summer of 2009. At the event, a variable edition of paper was handmade by a community of participants. The paper was made from natural fibers, pulped from the clothing of community members.
After the event, the fiber content of the paper was quantified and imported into a computer program written in Processing, an open source programming language. Using several simple commands, the program draws a series of Bezier curves, based on the fiber content of each sheet of handmade paper. Each curve represents one of the Fibre Libre participants.
The resulting images and their code were then made into photopolymer printing plates. The files for the plates were digitally prepared using Processing and Scribus, an open source desktop publishing program, and output as Press Quality PDFs. The PDFs were made into high density negatives by a local service bureau, which were then used to produce photopolymer plates.
The plates were printed on a Vandercook Universal I letterpress at Florida State University’s Small Craft Advisory Press. The prints and handmade paper were then bound by hand into an artist’s book, in an edition of 50 handmade copies.
The story is told in two ways, with the paper forming one narrative and a series of images forming the second. Just like the papermaking event, this book serves is an invitation to learn. Behind the paper sheets (object) are printed instructions (source) for how it was made. Behind the images (object) are printed the codes (source) from which they were generated. In this way, Fibre Libre serves as an exploration of free software and how its architecture can be enacted and understood through the book form.
Bridget Elmer: ‘Bookmaking, for me, is a public act of communication. My work explores reading as a generative, creative act, and engages the book’s potential as a persistent information technology.’