Visualizing the memory of this hand touching something


The 1M³ project in K.A.S.K. Ghent allows students to curate a vitrine with artist books from the collection of the Kunstenbibliotheek.

Valentina Bianchi and Arno Huygens selected and curated the display of 1M³ (14.02.2022-25.04.2022): Visualizing the memory of this hand touching something.

On 05.05.2022 a “handling moment” was organized to invite people to touch and generally interact with the books previously shown in the vitrine together with additional ones especially selected.


Reading is a physical act that leaves traces. While reading we exchange physical matter with the books, which will inevitably carry some of us with them. Not even the digitized versions are immune from the accidental retention of human trails.

Some of the interactions that take place while reading are considered potentially harmful to the object and therefore limited. The rarer the artifact is the less accessible it would be made for the sake of its optimal conservation. In archives and libraries some people, like curators, are allowed to touch the books while others aren’t. Judgments about preservation, damage, and dirt are not always logical or practical ones but sometimes derive from social boundaries. Are curators’ and conservators’ bodies less dangerous? Access privileges are associated with status and competence but seem to assume levels of hygiene and contamination risk. A more diverse perception of the interaction between bodies and books is now especially desirable.