Seven Wonders of the Frankfurt Book Fair

Have you ever considered how brain waves can be transferred into poetry? Don’t worry. The Helsinki-based Brains on Art collective has solved the problem for us. With the help of a tinfoil hat – i.e. a sensor helmet – and computer magic, brain waves create poems. This is first of the wonders I found in the Frankfurt Book Fair 2014 where Finland was the Guest of Honour.
As I strolled the numerous halls and miles upon miles of corridors, I tried to locate the allure of this world’s greatest book event. The sheer size is the second wonder – 270 000 visitors during five days. There were mini-buses and modern cycle rickshaws to transport you from hall to hall.

Thirdly, I could mention a feature that was very welcome after dragging your feet around for hours. At least in two places there were massage points where you could get a 15-minute neck and shoulder rub for a negotiable fee. Body and soul indeed.

The fourth point is quite unbelievable. I did not buy even one book during my three days in the fair ground. Not due to abstinence but because the event is basically a trade exhibition with very little actual book selling. Business is done between publishers, agents and other book industry representatives.

As the fifth wonder, I must mention the extent to which translators and translations were present. This could be seen everywhere but particularly in the Finnland.Cool (yes, that was the motto) Pavilion where the centre sphere displayed nearly a thousand books on Finland and translations of Finnish literature.

As the sixth point, I was very pleased to see that the Helsinki City Library had driven their Mobile Children’s Library bus Skidi to Frankfurt. How cool is that!

The seventh wonder is no doubt book itself. With all the talk about the demise of the traditional format, book seems to be stronger than ever. Evidence to this could be seen in the stalls from all over the world, in any number of languages, in whatever genre, with whichever type of layout.

Oh, and if you want to know how my EEG translated into poetry, here’s the result:

I am waiting weeping watching for Thee
I have not forgotten it thou’lt do me
I have no name
I could lie down like a tired child

(Obviously, the computer cheats, so can you crack this and recognize the original poets/poems?)

Text and photos: Joel Kuortti

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