Virtual Book
© Fleischmann & Strauss ;

(collective) Monika Fleischmann | Wolfgang Strauss

Virtual Book ,
Co-workers & Funding
Jochen Denzinger, Thomas Goldstrass, Kresimir Simunic. Funded by Bremen Senate of Economics.
  • Virtual Book Screen
    2592 × 1815
  • Virtual Book Interface
    2067 × 1684
  • Virtual Book
    649 × 474
  • Virtual Book S164
    1280 × 1024
  • Virtual Book Browsing
    1280 × 1024
Virtual Book : Augmentation of a real book boosted by semantic text analysis.

The Virtual Book (2006)

The concept of the book as an interactive knowledge structure was inspired by Marvin Minsky's vision from the early 1990s. He said, "Can you imagine that there used to be libraries where the books didn't talk to each other?" The second idea of the virtual book originated in artists' books. We thought about how to record artistic processes. What kind of notation system could be found for this cross-media process, which extends over a long period of time and is often a team process? How can sketches, discarded and unfinished thoughts, calculations and codes, texts, images, sounds and videos be documented in one formal structure?

Google Books are awesome. One can read old and rare books online. But Google Books remains like a one-page document, whereas the book as a media format is always a double-page spread of the entire book space. We are used to opening a book and turning the pages to read a text. When you read a book, you form a space-time imagination of what you have read. A book is a place of remembrance, but it is also a space of orientation. We often think we have read something important, and the only thing we remember is that it must have been in the front, the back, the top, the bottom, the left, or the right, and we start flipping through it. And then we often find it again. Does one-sided reading like Google Books change orientation and perception?

In comparison to the Google Books format, our virtual book enables a new way of reading and new perspectives through the semantically analyzed amount of information and connectivity. It is more than just a closed PDF file - it is an intelligent, interactive, multimedia data source that can be used like a book. The "virtual book" not only scrolls from one page to the next, but also finds passages of text that are linked to a specific search term. The print publication "Digital Transformations" serves as an example of a first version of this digital book format.

The Virtual Book expands the traditional book medium through hypertext, semantic analysis and the possibility of linking with other data sources to a cross-media interface. The idea of our Virtual Book is based on different approaches. First on preserving cultural heritage, e.g. rare and historic books and second on the idea of an interface that looks like a book for the retrieval of large amounts of information online and offline combined with future forms of filtering, storage, reading and annotation. The Virtual Book as a metaphor for a networked knowledge structure serves both as an interactive display of rare and valuable books, on the other hand, the Virtual Book as a tool and appliance for the production of new and actual digital documents like a diary.

The Virtual Book is a real-time application that uses Open GL and C++ to visualize PDF documents as a 3D virtual book. The first version of this format was the German print publication "Digitale Transformationen" which utilizes digital processing to create a knowledge structure within the text. This Virtual Book combines the linear structure of a traditional book with the interactive possibilities of hypertext and networked information. It allows the reader to navigate through the text using keywords, watch videos and listen to music. In the future it also could serve as a tool for information retrieval and knowledge generation, providing access to digital archives through its online connection.
The Virtual Book was first presented at the 2006 Frankfurt Book Fair, represents this reality, in which the books in a library can interact and complement each other, creating a collective knowledge that is greater than the sum of the individual books.

The audio play "Audible Textcollage" offers a performance in which two electronic reporters, Klara and Rainer, based on AT&T Text-to-Speech, using rule-based AI methods, have a conversation about the book and also provide a book review of the print edition of "Digital Transformations" in German.
  • aesthetics
    • documenting
    • generative
    • installation-based
    • interactive
    • intermedial
    • narrative
  • technology
    • artificial intelligence (technology)
    • displays
    • hardware
      • touch screens
    • software
      • C++
Technology & Material
The Virtual Book is a real-time application that uses Open GL and C++ to visualize PDF documents as a 3D virtual book.
Exhibitions & Events