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The Last Book Revisited

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In his book Wall Street Stop (Hatje Cantz, 2010) photographer Reinier Gerritsen shows his fascination with the myriad of faces and bodies in the confined space of subway trains. Looking back, Gerritsen got more and more puzzled by the phenomenon of people reading on commuter trains. What are they reading? How is it possible to focus on the content in the middle of a dense crowd? What is the function of reading in public space? Is it passion for literature, just pastime or hiding from the gaze of others?

These and other issues will be dealt with by media theorist and biologist Arjen Mulder in The Last Book Revisited. The app follows the design of the printed publication The Last Book (Aperture, 2014), it is the text and the images that are different. The Last Book shows people reading paper books, the cover is revealing the identity of the title. The Last Book Revisited has people reading from mobile devices, considerably affecting the ‘readability’ of the person next to you. Gerritsen, who worked in the subways of Beijing, New York and Paris on the subject, predicts the printed book to have disappeared by 2020. As a consequence the exhibition shows books as relics of the past against a backdrop of huge projected images of individuals absorbed in their daily reading routine, holding tablets and smartphones.