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My research about the bookshelf has branched out into topics about sustainability, the “quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance” (Dictionary.com). So far, I’ve come across a handful of products that have been made with sustainable methods and materials in mind.

Before I delve further into this topic that is jam-packed with culturally relevant information, I want to look back into the history of the bookshelf and determine when it became an unsustainable product. Through one of my earlier entries, The Age of the Scrolls, we obtained a better understanding of how books (scrolls) were stored (in jars). The University of the Holy Land provides studies on their website about the function of these jars. They expound upon the fact that there have been times where empty jars have been discovered in caves, with no scrolls in sight in or around the cave. This is enough evidence for the researchers to propose that the jars were valued for something else aside from its contents. These jars were made of earthenware, an all-natural material. Sometimes the lids were secured with rope made from natural fibers, most likely from varieties of plants.

In another post, I came across a handful of bookcase designs that were being showcased on an interior design magazine/catalogue from the 1800s, called “The Decorator and Furnisher”. The Met Museum also displays a selection of bookcase designs from the late 1700s to the mid 1800s. I’ve made an assumption that the growth in demand for bookshelves was thanks to the Age of Enlightenment which flourished in the 18th century. The only sustainable bookshelf that I did see from these two sources was one made of bamboo. Bamboo is considered a sustainable material because of its rapid growth and effects upon the environment.┬áBesides that, I think it’s safe to presume that the cultivation and harvesting of trees for the use of furniture was not sustainable.

Too much screen time bad for kids’ behavior | Health Tech – CNET News.

Surprising results, in my opinion! The iPad is an invention, just about 2 years young, so it was difficult to find information about long-term affects. I’m eager to see how the iPad comes to impact our future generations. Will it be more positive or negative?

Video games have surely been a conflicting topic as well. To an extent I want to compare it with the iPad, but I’ve realized how different these two inventions are. Video games explore violence, gore, and crime, while the iPad proposes means of education through digital interaction.

I’m torn! I do acknowledge the benefits of the advancement of technology, but the essence of having immediate physical interaction with our surroundings is vital.

For my first physical experiment, I recruited my roommate. She just recently purchased quite a number of books to add to her collection, and I figured it would be a great time to see how she organizes them. Having had my share of experiences shelving books, I knew she’d come across a number of issues especially considering that first, she doesn’t have a bookshelf and second, she has a variety of sizes and shapes of books.

Her final set-up

Her immediate instinct was to put her books on the floor. She organized them, left to right, from largest to smallest along the edge of the wall. Problem solved? Wrong. The books at the end would not stop slipping and falling, leaving room for the other books to topple sideways. That’s why the box of Bounce is there, acting as a bookend. Without the box, gravity would certainly take initiative and cause the books to slip and fall.

Another factor that plays heavily alongside gravity is friction. Friction is the resistance that takes place when two objects’ surfaces run across each other. In this example, my roommate’s books have been placed on top of a plastic material. If they had been placed on a material such as carpet, there would be greater friction and less reason for her to need the makeshift bookend with a box of dryer sheets. It’s the meager amount of friction between the bottom of the books and the plastic surface that causes them to constantly slide and topple over.

For a bookshelf to sustain a substantial amount of books, it must break gravity and friction’s forces. Therefore, it only makes sense for the standard bookshelf to be set against a wall with side panels to hold the books in place. The generic bookshelf design is so engrained into our lifestyles, that it’s hard to imagine it being in any other shape or form. My roommate’s decision to organize her books the way she did only emulates the standards that society has adapted over time. It’s practical and most logical in terms of it functioning exactly as it should.

Hans Haacke's 'Blue Sail'

In my teacher’s lecture about deconstruction, she demonstrated the idea of cause and effect through artist Hans Haacke’s “Weather Events,” a piece in which a large blue fabric is placed over a fan. It then undulates in accordance with the movement of the wind from the fan.

It reminded me of Alber Elbaz’s 2008 Spring collection for Lanvin. The gowns are designed to accentuate the beauty of the material and to highlight the beauty of these organic shapes that form through the wind that flows within it. If the gowns were presented in a stagnant display, I don’t think they would be understood to be as beautiful as they really are. Without the wind, the gown would merely be another dress made by some fabric. But because the interaction between the movement and the garment is so captivating, it leaves an impression of it being an art piece in itself. The garment alone is a display.

Similarly, I wonder what a bookcase would be without the books. Sure, it can still hold other things, but would we still be concerned about class and levels of education? Would it still relate to the prominent shift from tangible documents to digitally formatted files that is sweeping today’s culture? Maybe this connection is a bit far-fetched? But I still think it’s incredibly relative. Without the books, what would a bookcase be? Just some platform or stack of negative space that are there for what?