Video, drawing, collage, installation and site-specific projects: Paul Chan’s art takes many forms. In 2010, after showing his work at both Minneapolis’ Walker Art Gallery and New York’s New Museum, he started the e-book imprint Badlands Unlimited (distributed through D.A.P.) to explore the expanded opportunities of digital publishing. His roster comprises books of multimedia work by himself and others, including the dancer and choreographer Yvonne Rainer. Yet the cornerstone of the endeavor is the “What Is…” series, each of which features layers of visual and textual information about subjects ranging from the Italian politician/media magnate Silvio Berlusconi to the nature of lust.
Chan’s inspired by his experience working with moving images to create not exactly 360-degree multimedia experience, but ones enhanced by appropriate additions: audio files of Rainer reading her work to video clips of a work at a gallery. Ironically, thinking about how iPads and Kindles give amorphous electronic files weight has led him to contemplate how the book might looked on paper—a medium he’s also trying out in the form of limited-edition paperback versions of some of the titles.