Heat- and touch-sensitive book launched

By Jemima Tottle, Monday 09 September 2019

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An artist has launched a book that can only be read when warmed by human touch.

to-you

To You was launched at a Bristol event earlier this month

To You was created by Yiota Demetiou in an A5 paper-based concertina form that is sensitive to heat and touch.

The book is coated in black thermochromic ink, which is activated through thermal conduction. It makes the love poems visible when exposed to the heat from a human body.

The book was screen printed, although Demetiou made the first copy by hand. She said: “I made my own paper from different recycled materials I had at home using diverse cellulose fibres to experiment with the absorbency of paper.

“The ink itself comes in two forms: leuco dyes that contain colourless compounds formed by reducing a dye so that the original dye can be regenerated by oxidation; and liquid crystals. I have used the latter; at specific temperatures the liquid crystals reorientate to produce an apparent change in colour.”

When the page is revealed by the reader, some words appear bigger while others shrink in size or are missing.

To You was launched at the Arnolfini Bookshop in Bristol on 1 August, with 150 copies released at a cost of £75 each. Demetiou attended the launch to discuss the To You project with her supporters.

Thermochromic ink is commonly used in battery testers, thermometers and promotional products, Demetiou added.

“I wanted to explore how this type of technology can be pushed further and used differently, such as in a whole book about touching and feeling.”

Each copy of the book comes in a hand-packed letterbox complete with a ‘how to care for me’ letter and a brief note from the artist with her signature.

Demetiou intended the book as a metaphor for the love and grief experienced in relationships.

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