Having been introduced to the Renaissance book collection at the Forum’s Norfolk Heritage Centre, I was really amazed to find out that in many cases the owner of the book was encouraged to ‘interact’ with the book; drawing and colouring of drop capital letters or colouring of elaborate illustrations. Professionals existed who would colour the book for you – but it is clear that individual owners would take it upon themselves, and enjoy the process of contributing to their book.
I wanted to somehow contrast these early examples of interactive media with a modern platform where people also share information and visual content – to highlight the distance in time between the two different forms, but to hopefully illustrate how similar the interaction is.
I concentrated on the Nuremberg Chronicle, first published in 1493. The book was given to the Norwich City Library by a Norfolk vicar named Samuel Clark (not to be confused with the Norwich born Samuel Clarke, the English philosopher and Anglican clergyman). Little is know of Samuel Clark. He gave his copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle to the Library in 1680. Certain elements of the book have been drawn and coloured in. I recreated the book. Focusing on certain pages, I staged photographs showing elements being painted – in effect a re-enactment – as if being painted in 1680 or before. I then created an Instagram post, dated back to October 1680, in which @samuelclark posts a photograph of himself finishing off the paining of a drop capital letter C. My design brings the two media together – with comments!
I have set up an actual Instagram account for @samuelclark1680 – so he can send photographs with written content from 1680.