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What is the Role of Very Old Media in a New Media World?

I?ve spent several late nights over the past few weeks at Dartmouth's Book Arts Studio with my partner printing invitations for our wedding using a letterpress. We liked both the elegance and simplicity offered by this medium and technology. I set the type (18pt Liberty), which included a small passage from Little Women, and my partner carved a white whale from a linoleum block. While searching through boxes for the correct slugs I listened to the other people in the studio and asked them questions about their projects. Interestingly, a number of people were finding ways of crossing media and integrating themes or concepts from the digital world into the letterpress studio. One person was working on printing those famous words displayed by your first-steps in a new programming language:  ?Hello World.? She was looking for a font that resembled the Courier font she used in her vt100 terminal emulator. The instructor wasn?t familiar with either the font or the inside joke. I, on the other hand, am still very amused by this.

So, what role does old media serve in the age of, say, digital reproduction? What happens when we move back across these boundaries? I?m wary of the language of ?purity? used by some to describe the benefits of, as an example, film versus digital photography. It was, rather, the impurities of the letterpress form: the smudges, misprints, and misalignments that made it so attractive for us. Are any HASTAC Scholars doing any?or finding any?interesting work across these boundaries?

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