University of Rochester

A Different Kind of 'Book Art' on Display in Rare Books Library

March 9, 2006

People love books because they can be held and even caressed. Visual artist Doug Manchee is now drawn to books because of their beautiful scribbles, page edits, and musical scores.

In a move away from traditional film photography, Manchee uses digital technology to produce multiple scanned images from original manuscripts and books, which he then layers on top of each other to create a composite image. His series called Concretions—meaning the act of growing together to form one mass—opens Monday, March 13, in the Rare Books and Special Collections Library at the University of Rochester.

"What I didn't anticipate was the richness of color [due to the age of the paper in the first book he tried], which resulted when the pages were collaged together," explains Manchee, associate professor and chair of the advertising photography program at Rochester Institute of Technology. The viewer sees dense, black horizontal bands with the ascenders and descenders of individual type characters above and below. Then the eye catches the arrows, lines, question marks, and brackets as part of the composition.

Richard Peek, director of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, says Manchee "gives new meaning to the term 'book art.' The end result is something quite new and different for the viewer to contemplate." A reception with the artist will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 16. The reception and the exhibit are free and open to the public. The exhibit, titled "Concretions: Collages by Doug Manchee," will continue through July 31.

The artist sees himself as another contributor to the history of these books. "In each instance, it is the collaborative effort of many individuals—the author, the book designer, the publisher, those who create the marginal notes, and me—that result in the final piece," he says.

Manchee took the name of his Concretions series from the geologic process of concreting or growing together to form one mass. He picks from many kinds of books: texts on philosophy, social sciences, and humanities as well as children's literature, musical scores, illustrated books, and poetry. The visual appeal of each page allows him to diversify the look of the series.

A Pittsford native, Manchee joined the School of Design faculty at RIT part time in 1991, taking a full-time position with the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences in 1993. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees from San Francisco State University.

Hours for the exhibit are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday; and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. (For summer hours beginning May 22, please check

For more information, contact the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at (585) 275-4477.

Note to editors: Two digital images from Doug Manchee's series can be e-mailed to you. Please call (585) 275-4128 or send your request to