No digital medium can compare to holding a real book in your hands, turning its pages and inhaling its dusty scent, not to mention the nostalgic sense of finality that comes with closing it once you’ve finished reading. Spanish art group Luzinterruptus wanted to remind viewers of the visceral, irreplaceable power of books, with a huge art installation called “Literature vs. Traffic.” During The Light in Winter festival in Melbourne, Australia, Luzinterruptus artists filled the streets with 10,000 discarded books, each one illuminated with a small, RGB LED light.
Appearing like a river of forgotten literature, the installation stopped traffic as well as onlookers, who were encouraged to take the books home with them. Public libraries and The Salvation Army donated most of the works, the pages of which were weighted down and lit up the small, battery powered LED puck lights. The piece provided an interesting commentary on the importance of literature for engaging the imagination and inspiring millions—if you doubt that, just take a look at how the crowds interacted with the river of books. In our increasingly technological culture, it’s easy to think that books have fallen to the wayside. But “Traffic vs. Literature” puts them back out where they belong, unapologetically taking up space in the contemporary urban landscape.