Vintage Book & Record Covers Brought to Life in a Mesmerizing Animated Video

The state of vir­tu­al and aug­ment­ed real­i­ty tech­nol­o­gy has reached the thresh­old of a time in which VR meet­ings will be the norm. Apart from oth­er appli­ca­tions, this may soon allow con­sumers to stroll through vir­tu­al aisles rather than click­ing box­es on a screen, pick­ing up prod­ucts and view­ing them from every angle. Still, design­ers rec­og­nize that an essence of the human expe­ri­ence is lost with­out the sense of touch. There may even be a future in which we wear clothes with hap­tic feed­back sys­tems embed­ded in them, to feel the pages of a vir­tu­al book beneath our fin­gers…

Yet our slow tran­si­tion from the phys­i­cal to the vir­tu­al world leaves out intan­gi­bles. Some­thing is lost from both. Big box stores still devote sig­nif­i­cant floor space to books and records, for exam­ple. But I sub­mit that a glossi­ness pre­vails in print design, per­haps a con­se­quence of com­pet­ing with screens. There’s a wabi-sabi qual­i­ty to brows­ing a used book­store or record shop in per­son, thumb­ing through an old col­lec­tion of vin­tage paper­backs and LPs, that can­not be sim­u­lat­ed or enhanced in any way. On the inter­net, how­ev­er, where video is king, it can be made the sub­ject of some hyp­not­ic video art.

As the sen­si­ble major­i­ty of us are hope­ful­ly stay­ing put for the long haul (if we can), we may find our­selves curi­ous­ly edi­fied by the video art of Hen­ning M. Led­er­er. We’ve pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured Lederer’s ani­ma­tions of mid-cen­tu­ry min­i­mal­ist book cov­ers and vin­tage psy­chol­o­gy and phi­los­o­phy books. He turns the abstract geo­met­ric pat­terns beloved by book and record com­pa­ny design­ers of the lat­ter half of the 20th cen­tu­ry into mov­ing images that hint at how prop­er cov­er design can set the imag­i­na­tion whirring (even if it’s a cov­er design for Basic Account­ing).

If Lederer’s mes­mer­iz­ing videos sim­u­late any­thing, it’s the expe­ri­ence of wan­der­ing into a used book­store next to a lib­er­al arts college—full of pro­fes­sors’ fas­ci­nat­ing­ly out­dat­ed hand-me-downs—after hav­ing ingest­ed a small quan­ti­ty of LSD. Maybe you’ll have a slight­ly dif­fer­ent asso­ci­a­tion. But the point is that Lederer’s art sug­gests a sce­nario rather than attempt­ing to recre­ate one. His stud­ies of mod­ernist cov­er designs also recall Mar­cel Duchamp’s Rotore­liefs, con­cep­tu­al art pieces intend­ed for pop­u­lar use as opti­cal illu­sions.

Duchamp’s spin­ning disks became fea­tures of ear­ly Sur­re­al­ist cin­e­ma, icon­ic sym­bols of dreams on film. There is a mys­te­ri­ous opac­i­ty to his phys­i­cal objects onscreen, just as Lederer’s book and record cov­ers seem to have a weight of their own, a use of dig­i­tal tech­nol­o­gy to high­light the strange unique­ness of phys­i­cal objects, rather than their end­less repro­ducibil­i­ty.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

36 Abstract Cov­ers of Vin­tage Psy­chol­o­gy, Phi­los­o­phy & Sci­ence Books Come to Life in a Mes­mer­iz­ing Ani­ma­tion

157 Ani­mat­ed Min­i­mal­ist Mid-Cen­tu­ry Book Cov­ers

Watch Mar­cel Duchamp’s Hyp­not­ic Rotore­liefs: Spin­ning Discs Cre­at­ing Opti­cal Illu­sions on a Turntable (1935)

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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