A Tiny Book, and the Beauty in Uneconomic Actions

Written in four languages, this small art book produced in Kyoto, highlights international artists, and the power of sharing.

We’ve recently been working on a tiny art book.

Produced by Kyoto-based arts journalist 藤田 Fujita千彩 Chisai, and designed by City as Nature, the Spring 2019 Chisai Book is here, and it’s one of these miraculous little things that, like many of the best things in life, is completely uneconomic.

Chisai Book (which is in its 9th issue) is very much a product of the sharing economy. No, not that sharing economy, the creative commons one, the living the gift one, the open source one, and the sharing city one.

The book’s producer works to interview, write, print, fold, and bind around 1,000 copies of each edition by herself and with local friends. Something like this could never have come about if the people involved were attempting to monetize it. At least, not in the same way.

We donated our time to help produce this book (Patrick designed and Suhee produced the cover photography) because we want to help support good and beautiful things. Even the font “Namba” used for the English layout, is made freely available by our good friends at Akitonixin (you can download the font for free at the bottom of this page).

Small Actions for Positive Change

Now, it may be true that there is a time and place for monetizing things. However, we often forget that there are other good and beautiful and useful acts; valuable acts of the kind that make us fully human, and which help us celebrate what it means to be truly alive as the creative beings on this Earth (as we all are). These kinds of acts very often do not benefit from being monetized. In the worst case these true, good, and beautiful actions are eliminated, called superfluous, unnecessary, and the worst transgression “uneconomic,” once we force them into the funnel of answering to a system where everything is valued in numbers.

Instead of berating the monetary system, we effect positive change by putting energy into doing the true, good, and beautiful things we believe in, regardless of whether those things can be valued in our monetary system.

Chisai Book, is one small (chisai = small in Japanese) example of this.

I hope we can each help in our own way, to multiply these small examples. If anyone wants more information on how to make their own zine (for art, poetry, science, programming, or anything else) have a look at these excellent resources:

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