When I was in design school I spent a lot of time at Printed Matter, an archive of art and design publications in NYC. This is where I first saw Josef Albers' Interaction of Color in all of its hefty 20-lb glory. Originally published in 1963, the book collects hundreds of printed silkscreen color studies as well as essays about Albers' philosophy of color. What was so great about the book is that it was actually interactive, in that you could pull and arrange colors to study the contrast and coordination of color. Yale University just released a beautiful iPad version of the book.
Liz Stinson wrote about the book over at Wired: "Designed by New York City-based Potion Design, the Interaction of Color app is about as close as most of us will get to the original version of Albers’ masterpiece, which today primarily lives in special collections and museums. The app is nearly an exact digital replica of the 1963 version of the book, down to the original Baskerville typeface and layout of the text columns—but with some 21st century upgrades. “We were really thinking, how can we go back to the original intent of Albers’ book, and make something that he would’ve made today,” says Phillip Tiongson, one of the founders of Potion.""
As much as I enjoyed the tangibility of the original book, this is one instance in which I really prefer the digital version, not just for its transportability (though, that is nice) but really because I think Albers would have celebrated the digitization of his book. He was a meticulous painter, but above all, he was always a forward-thinking philosopher who pushed people to think beyond their own conceptions. He once said, "Art is to create, not to revive. To revive: leave that to the historians who are looking backward." The digital version is a piece of art just as the original book--and now a new generation of designers (and color-enthusiasts) who likely would never see the original will be able to connect to Albers' theories.