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Amaranth Borsuk, Kate Durbin & Ian Hatcher, Abra

Description of the work

The recipient of an Expanded Artists’ Books Grant from the Center for Book and Paper Arts at Columbia College Chicago, Abra is an exploration and celebration of the potentials of the hand-made book in the 21st century. A collaboration between Amaranth Borsuk, Kate Durbin, Ian Hatcher, and a potentially infinite number of readers, the project merges physical and digital media, integrating a hand-made artist's book with an iPad app to play with the notion of the “illuminated” manuscript and let readers "hold the light" of language. In the artist’s book, readers are invited to touch the surface of the page, interacting with thermochromic ink and letterpress printing that reference the earliest impressions on clay tablets and the surface-skimming of the touchscreen. Apertures in the pages gradually reveal the undulant text on the screen below in which the poems themselves are in flux, coalescing and dispersing in an ecstatic helix of language. In the app, these poems grow and mutate, blurring the boundary between text and illumination, marginalia and body. With a single touch, readers can join the collaboration, seeding it with their own words and mutating the book further to create new linguistic juxtapositions—ABRACADABRA—in this unpredictable living text.


Amaranth Borsuk is currently an Assistant Professor in Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington, Bothell. Her books includeHandiwork (Slope Editions, 2012), and Between Page and Screen (Siglio Press, 2012), a book of augmented-reality poems created with programmer Brad Bouse. A collaboration with Andy Fitch, As We Know, is forthcoming from Subito. A trade edition of the artist’s book on display here, Abra, which includes poems written with Kate Durbin and drawings by Zach Kleyn, is forthcoming from 1913 editions. Other digital works include The Deletionist, an erasure bookmarklet created with Nick Montfort and Jesper Juul, and Whispering Galleries, a Leap Motion collaboration with Brad Bouse.

Kate Durbin is a Los Angeles-based writer, visual artist, and curator whose work focuses on gender, digital media, and popular culture. She is author ofThe Ravenous Audience (Akashic Books, 2009), E! Entertainment (Wonder, 2014), and co-author of Abra, forthcoming as an iPad app and artist book with the help of a grant from Center for Book and Paper Arts at Columbia College Chicago. Kate is founding editor of the online pop cultural criticism journalGaga Stigmata, and her tumblr project, Women as Objects, archives the teen girl tumblr aesthetic. Her projects have been featured by Poets and Writers,, Huffington Post, The New Yorker, NPR, The American Scholar, The Rumpus, Vice, Rhizome, and elsewhere. 

Ian Hatcher is a text/sound/performance artist, musician, and programmer living in Brooklyn. He has performed code-inflected poetry readings at the Kitchen (NYC), the Bibliothèque nationale in Paris, E-Poetry festivals in London and Buffalo, &NOW in San Diego, and at the Chicago Cultural Center. Recent poetry has appeared in The Claudius App, LIT, Web Conjunctions, and CLOCK. Recent projects include collaborations on two poetry apps for the iPad: Vniverse, with Stephanie Strickland, and Abra, with Amaranth Borsuk and Kate Durbin. He is the primary composer and accompanist for the Moving Architects dance company. More info and projects can be found at

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