"De Bel, A Very Hard Cover Book" is a monograph containing a selection of work by Rotterdam based artist Dennis de Bel, (NL, 1984). According to Hajo Doorn director of WORM and initiator of this project, De Bel work lies on the "fringe of art, new media art, design and anti-art". The publication follows his artistic development, tracing his changing perceptions towards the notion of interactivity in relation to technology and object. De Bel's exploration of interactivity and utility has led him to make humorous design interventions, manifested word puns, useless software and most recently creating "noware". Richly illustrated with images, this monograph is also supported by texts from Hajo Doorn, Florian Cramer, Josephine Bosma and Régine Debatty.
Graphic design studio, Eyesberg and De Bel collaborated closely towards a book that doesn’t simply ‘showcase’ his work, but also serves as another manifestation of his ideas. Since this monograph was intended to validate De Bel, we studied the medium of the book as a traditional form of legitimization and the way authority is executed in the use of hardcovers, luxurious paper, heavy weight, etc., historically exemplified by the Bible. In the realm of cultural books, Phaidon publishers play a leading role in validation by publishing luxurious self-appointed design and art ‘Bibles’. Despite our limited budget we had biblical ambitions. From both a practical and absurdist gesture, we artificially created a presence of authority by incorporating an oversized box in the design. Thus the box becomes the hardcover to the the softcover book mounted inside. From this perspective the book playfully challenges the idea of authority. Furthermore, the box we used was a standard mailing box, making it ready for delivery, reducing further packaging costs.
From another perspective the design serves to apply the tactic of intervention through the use of the ZXX typeface in titles and page numbers. Developed by Sang Mun, as a response to the extensive information gathered from spy centers such as the National Security Agency (NSA), this typeface is designed to confuse OCR (optical character recognition) scanners, but is still readable to the human eye. Thus, like De Bel’s work, the object and the design of the book playfully apply the tactic of intervention (disrupting systems) as a way to expose underlying structures.