Outlooks Insights: The Book as a Snapshot

by Jakob Fricke written on August 28, 2011

At the beginning of this year, my brother Amos and I were discussing the idea of making a book out of his series Outlooks Insights, a collection of black and white snapshots taken over the last two years with an analog Yashica camera at different locations all over Europe. But we faced a problem: we couldn't think of a layout that worked. We thought of ordering them by date, by topic, by places … but nothing really caught our eye. To add to our frustration, we discovered that most of the images had some connection to one another, regardless of the time or the place in which they were taken. So we asked ourselves: why not take the cardinal principle of every snapshot - the randomness of the shoot - one step further and randomize the order of the pictures in each copy of the book. Every copy of Outlooks Insights would thus be a unique snapshot of the millions of possibilities inherent to randomized ordering.

Once we settled on our design, we started researching, programming and tinkering, and in the end, we came up with the idea to write a computer program which randomly selects the images and lays out the whole book. With 200 JPG-files and 190 lines of code, we can now generate as many different versions of Outlooks Insights as we want.

Next, we looked for a press willing to join us along the ride. We found a passionate group of printers at SDL in Berlin, and they generously agreed to print and bind every single book separately. After six rounds of sampling, we finally found the right paper, size and binding.

But how to name a book, when every copy is different? To solve this difficult question, we came up with a code for the title: AF for the author Amos Fricke, OI for the series Outlooks Insights, 01 for the first book of the series and a three digit number indicating your personal copy. The first book of the series would be called AF-OI-01-001 and the last one AF-OI-01-999.

For me, Outlooks Insights is not only a wonderful product, but it also serves as a means of challenging the antiquated way in which books are conceptualized by showing what the latest printing technologies can really offer.

So, without any further ado, I'm really happy to announce the sale of AF-OI-01 for 12 Euros, plus shipping.

Thank you, Ruby and Prawn, for making this book a reality.