RCA Book Test Unit Key­word Visualisation

Book Test Unit is a plat­form for inves­tiga­tive and cre­ative activ­ity in what the future of the book may be. Begin­ning in 2014, the first BTU group was a col­lab­o­ra­tion between stu­dents from MA pro­grammes in Visual Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, Crit­i­cal Writ­ing in Art & Design and Curat­ing Con­tem­po­rary Art. Since then, the dis­cus­sions ini­ti­ated have been taken for­ward into its sec­ond incar­na­tion with stu­dents from the Visual Com­mu­ni­ca­tion MA and MRes pro­grammes. Embrac­ing the tur­bu­lence of change — the spirit of the inau­gural BTU — con­tin­ues here, from sug­ges­tions on the future of read­ing, trans­la­tion and dis­tri­b­u­tion, into new dia­logues con­cern­ing new media and pol­i­tics, pub­lic and pri­vate, mem­ory and copy­right.

Pre­sented here is a seam­lessly flow­ing com­pi­la­tion of research on the nature and future of books and libraries, car­ried out by stu­dents at the Royal Col­lege of Art as part of Book Test Unit in the spring of 2017. The result of three months worth of dis­cus­sions, exhi­bi­tions and field trips, this is a book that seeks to embody, rather than merely present, the out­comes and dis­cov­er­ies made.

The future defies spec­u­la­tion. It is not utopia, nor any other pre­de­ter­mined endgame — it is an evo­lu­tion, shaped and refined all the time by our present thoughts and actions. When liv­ing through it the future ends up tak­ing us unawares, hav­ing missed its impe­tus. Only when look­ing back do we see exactly where, or when, it arrived.