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Criticalista: Ice Fishing in Gimli, a book project by Rob Kovitz


Ice Fishing in Gimli, a book project by Rob Kovitz

One of my favorite publishers, Treyf Books, is celebrating its 25th anniversary. To mark the occasion, Treyf is offering, for the first time, Ice Fishing in Gimli, a book project by my good friend Rob Kovitz, as a downloadable PDF that can be purchased online. Weighing in at a whopping 258 megabytes, the digital version of this incredible work costs only 50 Canadian dollars. That works out to only $0.19 per Mb, which is comparable to the price per mega-bite of bacon at Loblaw's.

Now if you think you have to be an ice fishing enthusiast to be able to enjoy this art-book project, think again. Ice Fishing in Gimli is not about ice fishing. Nor is it about Gimli, Manitoba; that quaint, quiet little town on the shore of Lake Winnipeg that became famous after being mentioned on The Simpsons. In fact, I really don't have a clue just what, precisely, Ice Fishing is about, because it's really about so many things in the end. In fact, it comes darn close to being a fairly sound theory of everything.

My collection of highly prized Treyf books occupy a position on my bookshelf to the left of the Oeuvre complète of Le Corbusier, and to the right of Architecture: A Performing Art by John Andrews. Even though Treyf's motto is "keep refrigerated", I have found that these books resist spoiling even when the summer temperature in Barcelona exceeds the mid-thirties.

How do you read an eight-volume, 4750 page work that is comprised entirely of found images juxtaposed with quotations taken from all sorts of sources, ranging from literature to religious tomes to product catalogs? You don't. You just pick one of the eight volumes at random, open it randomly, and then let it take you for a ride. It's the same kinda fun as opening an encyclopedia: you never know what sort of factoid you're gonna come across, and where it's going to lead you. In fact, come to think of it, Ice Fishing can be seen as an encyclopedia of sorts, just one that is based more on an application of the critical paranoid method to everything. Especially things Manitoban.

If the advantage of the box set copy of Ice Fishing is serendipitous browsing, the advantage of the digital version is that it can be searched for any word, or combination of words. So if you enter, say, the words "Canadian" and, umm..."tire" you get a typological analysis of a chain of suburban big box stores specializing in automotive, sporting, hardware and gardening supplies. Too cool! For academics and researchers, this should prove especially useful.

Geez, I wonder if the PDF version of Ice Fishing is also best kept refrigerated?

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