We've been working a lot recently on the Lindisfarne Gospels, making website, kiosk, Kindle and iBook versions. Which isn't to say we're satiated. The intricacy of the cross-carpet pages, the startling immediacy of the title pages for the Gospels, the interlinear annotations to the Latin text all make this a book of endless fascination.
But we were still surprised and delighted that Chris Watson has released a CD called "In St Cuthbert's Time" which is "a sound installation that reflects the acoustic landscape of that island during the time that the Lindisfarne Gospels were being considered, written and illustrated."
It was produced with Durham University's Institute of Advanced Study, and sounds like a remarkable project. As well as an installation it's available as a CD.
What books like the Lindisfarne Gospels have the capacity to do is to transport us back to the time of their creation. The evidence of their handling, the techniques of production, the annotations and the wear all speak volubly of the sacred time and space in which the work was made. To spend time in the company of the book is to let the 21st century fall away.
This evocation is sometimes hard to conjure up and I hope that Chris Watson's work will help the process. Very often we spend our time in pursuit of the facts about a book or trying to decode the meaning of the text. We don't allow ourselves to be transported back to it's world and our capacity for speculation, wonder and serendipitous connection is diminished.
I tracked it down on Caught By the River by the way, one of my favourite websites.
The iBook of the Gospels is also available here.