Inspiration for the project
This Bibliotarot is inspired by my love of early modern print media, my practice as a tarot reader, and my love of surreal and iconographic imagery. For this project, I remixed 16th and 17th century woodcuts found both in my work at Wilson Library and in my studies as an early modern scholar--blending them with traditional tarot imagery, surreal detailing, and images of personal importance to me. By collaging, embellishing, and remixing woodcuts via digital design software, this tarot deck juxtaposes the early modern tradition of woodcut reuse in cheap print with the repetition of iconographic imagery in sacred and occult texts.
In much the same way that 3D models and laser cut templates are remixed in makerspaces today, in 17th century Europe woodcuts were re-used and remixed as a common practice. As the English Broadside Ballad Archive reminds us, woodcuts were used (and re-used) both in cheap print and across more "legitimate" print media. As woodcuts were repurposed, re-used, or referenced in other ballads or works, they brought with them existing layers of meaning, while also forming new meaning. And tarot, too, reflects this process; its iconography is referential to that which has come before it, but the meaning of the iconography is both informed by cultural understanding of symbols as well as personal interpretation of the images.
To find out more about woodcut reuse, read Early Modern Memes: The Reuse and Recycling of Woodcuts in 17th-Century English Popular Print (Katie Sisneros, The Public Domain Review)
In addition to the physical elements of the tarot, I wanted to incorporate a digital interface to provide readers with an interpretive element. As readers might not have familiarity with tarot, I thought it would be helpful to use augmented reality to unlock this extra layer of meaning.
While the cards themselves only include the image and their corresponding number, I used the augmented art app Eyejack to uncover an additional layer of text; this layer includes the card name, as well as keywords associated with interpreting the cards. The keywords were taken from Labyrinthos, an interpretive website I used to teach myself tarot reading when I first began.