Prem Krishnamurthy

Graphic Designer / United States / P!/Project Projects

Prem Krishnamurthy’s Book List

I encountered most of the books on this list while conducting background research for a six-month cycle of exhibitions on copying at P!, my exhibition space. Some, like artist Gareth Long’s Don Quixote remake, are new discoveries. Others, like Orhan Pamuk’s The Black Book, are old favorites.

As a designer of exhibitions, books, and identities, I am constantly confronted by the unstable boundaries between original and copy, appropriation and falsification. And as a curator, I try to create situations in which alternate histories and cultural expectations are forced to overlap and negotiate the same space.

For both these roles, I find that embedded, hyper-descriptive texts, such as W. G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn and Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, are indispensable frames of reference. I need them to unsettle me: to make strange a world that can, at times, feel reductive and normative; to offset the designer’s—the human’s—impulse to identify, to categorize, to manipulate in the service of a seamless, intuitive visual experience.

2 books
Gareth Long

I can’t think of a “copy” more fittingly perverse than Gareth Long’s Don Quixote (2006). Long generated this text using speech recognition software, which he trained to identify the Don Quixote audiobook narrator’s voice. He played the subsequent recording into a computer and produced this clever doppelgänger. His “Chapter XVI” begins: “regarding what they fail in the ingenious government in the American debut Castle.”

Marcia Hafif

A recent discovery for me, but one that lingers—a brilliant riff on Ed Ruscha's books of commercial and urban sites, but made domestic and personal in a way that his work evades.

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