People love to jaw about the so-called “death of print” brought on by the Internet, but from where we’re sitting, book design has never been more interesting. And Maria Fischer’s “Traumgedanken” (“Thoughts on Dreams”) goes one step further with a breathtaking design that uses delicately stitched thread to summon not just the skewing, unpredictable logic of dreams, but the connections of the web itself.
To be fair, Fischer never explicitly intended these evanescent threads to reflect hyperlinking. As her website states, “The book is designed as a model of a dream about dreaming… The threads visualise their confusion and fragileness.” The book itself is a lusciously typeset anthology of literary, philosophical, and scientific articles on the phenomenon of dreaming, and theories about its significance.
But it’s pretty hard to not see “Traumgedanken” as a physical metaphor for web connections, too, even in Fischer’s own words. The text articles are “pieces of reality are assembled to build a story,” she writes, “connected by threads which tie in with certain key words.” Sound familiar? The multicolored threads even seem to reference the way hyperlinks change color when we click on them.
Fischer draws threads from word to word and page to page, occasionally cohering them into intricately stitched illustrations whose “shape and colour relies on the key words on the opposite page.” And sometimes the stitching prevents pages from being fully opened at all, offering only a glimpse at the meaning inside — just like a dream.
“Traumgedanken” was Fischer’s final-year project at the University of Applied Sciences Augsburg, and she deservedly won the 2010 Bavarian State Award for Young Designers. It’s probably unlikely that she’ll ever make enough copies of the book to sell to adoring book-lovers, but one can dream.