The Swiss-born artistic nomad Dieter Roth, spent much of his 5-decade career flitting between styles and media and means of production. But for me, the most exciting slice of this vast and varied career is that moment in the 1950s and early 60s knows as his “Concrete Period“.
During this phase of geometric, op and process-oriented art Roth created over twenty version of what he usefully called “Bok”. These “books”, were collections of loose-leaf pages, that had slots handcut from them according to certain rules and patterns. The pages in each book were largely 2 colors (with one exception), and ranged in number from 10 to 24. The pages in each could be rotated, arranged and stacked to create millions of patterns.
Each book was about 40cm square and the edition sizes were small. Many versions were one-of-a-kind, only four were printed in editions of more than 20 copies. Eventually, in his Collected Works, Volume 8, (Gesammelte Werke Band 8), 2 of these were reproduced in a die-cut edition of 1000.
More information about these books at MoMA’s website, as well as at sites maintained by the Grahame Galleries and Zucker Art Books. In print, the volume Dieter Roth Books + Multiples: Catalogue Raisonne has plenty of information about the various iterations of this idea, and is the source of some of the images in this post.
Additionally, in my fascination, I’ve recreated one of these books as an interactive web app project, you can play with it here. (Thanks to Zucker Art Books for providing the measurements.)