I recently came across an item from the University of Padova in Italy: a collection of 56 wooden books about trees. Rather than pages, each book contains physical evidence of the tree from which its wooden cover was made as well as a handwritten explanation on parchment. The result is a bit like a Joseph Cornell art box, with seeds and leaves and roots pegged in place inside the book, suggesting composition and decomposition simultaneously. What’s more, the physical artifacts now lend themselves to DNA analysis, which means that each book contains an encrypted text of the tree’s design specs (which text would never fit in a conventional book).

The packaging possibilities for a special edition of Larry and Alaina Kanfer’s Barns of Illinois leap immediately to mind.

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