Public book encounters with Paul Soulellis
Weymouth, England
30 July – 10 August 2012

Weymouths [2012] is a 12-part book work investigating place, identity and memory in Weymouth, Dorset (UK) and Weymouth, Massachusetts (USA). The project was conceived as an archive and installed and performed as a series of public book encounters during the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad in Weymouth, England (site of the Olympic sailing competition). Weymouths was a commission for the b-side Multimedia Arts Festival and funded by Arts Council England.

Weymouths positions the artist’s book outside of commercial publishing.

Each morning, 20 books were given away to passers-by at various locations around town—one volume per day. 240 books were given away during 12 days. All of the books were free, but several people gave objects, books, notes, stories and art in return. Each afternoon, the entire set was open to the public in a reading room installation above a bakery at the center of town.

As an archive, Weymouths is an open reliquary of first-hand accounts, third-person memory and collective identity. The books are bound containers holding public domain texts, historical records, lists, archival imagery, photography, Tweets, interviews, maps, color, Google Street View, Wikipedia and other raw source material that have been assembled into real and imagined narratives.

As a performance, Weymouths enabled the creation of a spontaneous community through the simple act of giving away books. Each public book encounter between artist and audience became an excuse for conversation, as new stories expanded the work in real-time.

As a social networking experiment, Weymouths enabled the formation of new connections, bonds and relationships between artist and audience.

Stetson is a geo-historical typeface designed for Weymouths, inspired by a type sample found near the old Stetson Shoe Co. factory building in Weymouth, MA. The font has been used in the design of the books and is now available on Soulellis.com as a free download, under an Open Font License.

The creation and performance of Weymouths is fully documented on Soulellis.com. I described the experience in “The Generosity Echo” for Communication Arts, Jan/Feb 2013 issue.

Posts about the installation/performance:
Day 1—Weymouths / Day 1
Day 2—A solid place
Day 3—Gifts
Day 4—Generosity echo
Days 5 and 6—Dynamical instability
Day 7—Free books
Days 8 and 9—Town as stage
Day 10—1:150
Days 11 and 12—Finish

Posts about the creation of Weymouths:
Publishing outside of publishing

Public book encounter #1
12 volumes.

Five proofs.

The Canoe Room

Slow reading.
 
Whence is this mass of shingle derived?

Extinguished by purchase.

Project map

A preview of Weymouths Volume 1.

1,485 colors.

Errare

Weymouth can refer to
The birds were the raven, crow, buzzard, and starling.
Right okay, that’s what triggered my—
The interviews
Stetson [font release]
Color studies
Tranquil aardvarks
Imaginary landscapes
Geotypography
Structures
Weymouth is
Mnemography
Mapwork
Stetson
Ghost type
Holbrook sketch
A chance-determined mythology.
Spectral archive
B-side Arts Festival, England

More images of Weymouths on Flickr.

A 20-minute talk about the project for the Book Live symposium on June 8–9, 2012 at London South Bank University, posted as a single Tumblr blog.