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  • Torque2TheActOfReading

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Torque #2: The Act of Reading

Research output: Book/Report/ProceedingsAnthology

Publication date2015
Place of PublicationLiverpool and London
PublisherTorque Editions
Number of pages319
ISBN (print)9780993248702
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Publication series

NameTorque: mind, language, technology
PublisherTorque Editions


This book is the result of a 12 month research process, including a residency at Tate Liverpool, an exhibition in London's Furtherfield Gallery, and a symposium and performance event taking place at FACT in Liverpool in 2015.

The book is aimed as a popular primer on reading discourse from a range of disciplines, but also as a performative document on what interdisciplinary brings to such discourse. It features new material from several world-leading practitioners from a range of disciplines, including media theorists N. Katherine Hayles and Soenke Zehle, literary theorist Garrett Stewart, political theorists Esther Leslie and Nina Power, the poet Charles Bernstein, artists Tim Etchells and Erica Scourti, and clinical neuroscientist Alex Leff, along with a selection of early career academics. Each of these contributors were chosen according to the prescience of their current work to the questions: what does means to read today? and, how is reading changing as a result of current political and technological conditions? The content for the book was developed with the contributors in a process that included discussion at the symposium and supplementary e-correspondence, resulting in a number of cross disciplinary observations being made by the authors - for example between Garrett Stewart's close readings of literary sonification, and Alex Leff's work on the role of the eye saccade in reading disorders. The book was designed by Mark Simmonds, and has a central insert of yellow pages that features a number of creative submissions, further contributing to the range ways that the book itself can interrogate reading.

In an introduction (c. 1500 words) inter and cross-disciplinarity is framed as integral to the approach of the editors, and essential to properly understand the context of reading as itself "hybrid": "recycling ... more innate neuronal networks such as object recognition and memory".

In a comment published on the reverse of the book, Professor Steven Connor notes the effectiveness of the book's approach to its subject:

"Reading inquisitively over each others' shoulders, the poems, meditations, analyses and experiences in this volume response with audacity and adventure to the challenge of characterising what reading … has been and may yet become"

Nathan Jones was research leader on this project, co-editing and co-authoring the introduction with Sam Skinner. He also contributes a 10-page creative-theoretical chapter in the book.

The book sold out its edition of 500 copies, and is available freely as PDF and EPUB on the publisher's website. Further public impact and relevance to the project can be seen in the Jones and Skinner's paper "Absorbing Text: Rereading Speed Reading" (APRJA_Machine Research 2016), and contribution to the Transmediale Festival of that year. The material and research partnerships in the book also resulted in an exhibition and new artworks by Jones and Skinner, "Re-learning to Read" (Grundy Art Gallery, 2017).

The book and project was supported by a grant from Arts Council England, and by the institutions Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (FACT), Tate Liverpool and Furtherfield Gallery in London.