It is with great pleasure and excitement that I announce the publication of the digital version of Micah Bloom’s Codex. This is an ambitious, transmedia work that includes a limit-edition numbered hardcover book, a digital book, two award-winning films, an installation, and, very soon, a trade paperback. Micah Bloom’s photographs explores the fate of books in the aftermath of the historic Minot floods of 2011. It is joined by a group of original essays that unpack Bloom’s photographs and films, the events of the flood, and the meaning of book in our world.
The digital version of the book is available for free under a open access, CC-BY-ND license.
Find below a press release announcing the book and a book launch event in Minot, North Dakota tomorrow at noon.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Beauty from Disaster
First a film, then an exhibition, and now a book; Codex keeps giving. Weeks following the June 2011 flood, Micah Bloom began noticing unique debris displaced by the swollen Souris River. In response, Bloom, artist and art faculty at Minot State University, diligently collected, researched, filmed, and photographed hundreds of relocated books, creating a poetic artwork that reflects on the plight of the printed book. Since its inception, Codex continued on a slow journey that eventually found expression in the form of a book.
The first expression of Codex screened in Minot in 2013, and the film went on to be screened in film festivals and venues around the country, eventually winning a grand prize award in New York City. Following the film’s success, Codex grew into a multi-media art exhibition featuring hundreds of the collected books and large photographs printed on paper made from the pulp of Minot’s drifted books. In 2015, the Codex exhibition was featured at the North Dakota Museum of Art (NDMoA) where the gallery floor was covered with dirt, simulating a book cemetery pictured in the film. It was at this exhibition that Codex caught the eye of a publisher and brought this project full circle, an opportunity to publish a book about books.
While on view at the NDMoA, William Caraher, PhD (History Professor, University of North Dakota) encountered the Codex exhibition in Grand Forks and contacted Bloom expressing interest in publishing a book on Codex to widen the audience and further its reach. Codex had already become an important work for the region, but Caraher felt the project had a contemporary, universal quality and publishing could bring the issues of our region into a national conversation.
As an archaeologist, Caraher connected with the methodologies and approach the project, commenting: “The tattered and torn carcasses of books in Micah’s work could be an appropriate icon for the narrative of the book – moving from personal, practical, trusted, and beloved companion to artifact is, in some ways, the funeral of the book in its traditional form.”
With an invitation from The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota, Caraher (director and publisher) teamed with Bloom to continue this work in the form of a photo book with essays from local and national scholars. In 2016, essayists were selected for the project, and nine contributors were secured, including three from Minot State University. In the months to follow, MSU participants Bethany Andreasen (History), Robert Kibler (Humanities), and Ryan Stander (Art), wrote engaging interpretations on the Codex project, adding further meaning to Bloom’s work. Stander shares on his experience, “Great projects, such as Codex, open doors for deeper engagement across traditional disciplines, so I was thrilled to interact with Bloom’s work from my interests in place, landscape photography, and memory.”
In 2017, with the assistance of MSU art student Marissa Dyke, Bloom designed three iterations of Codex for The Digital Press. A large, coffee table, limited- edition photo book will be distributed to museums, libraries, and “study of the book” collections, an affordable trade book will be available through Amazon, and a downloadable ebook, free to everyone. For Caraher and his press, it was important to release a book that can be accessible to all, enjoyed personally or used for educational purposes without restriction. Believing this project will stir the imagination and assist all who have experienced loss from a natural disaster, Bloom invites the Minot community to attend the book release in Aleshire Theater at MSU. Beyond connecting with those experiencing loss, Bloom hopes viewers will identify with other themes: the relationship of the traditional book and the ebook, the side effects of digital migration . . . or simply the beautiful visuals of text and paper under nature’s effects.
Grateful, Bloom comments on this opportunity, “It has been a joy to find so much local support for this project . . . and to now have a way to share a bit of our story with a larger audience. It’s such an honor.”
The Codex book release will be hosted in Aleshire Theater, Minot State University on Friday, November 3rd at 12:00 p.m. For more information or to download the book, visit: https://thedigitalpress.org/codex/