French graphic design firm Super Terrain, has come up with an ingenious way to capture the essence of Ray Bradbury’s best-selling novel, Fahrenheit 451. The company’s recently released special edition copy can only be read by applying heat to the blackened pages.
The prototype, unveiled in October 2017, was designed to showcase a unique, charcoal-based heat-activated ink which becomes visible when warm, and fades away once the pages cool down. The technology is the brainchild of researchers at the Netherlands-based Jan van Eyck Academie, which is well-known for its experiments in materials and media.
For those unfamiliar with the dystopian book, Fahrenheit 451 tells the story of a future America in which reading is banned, and books outlawed, to suppress dissenting ideas. Firefighters, assigned to eradicate any books found, are instructed to set them on fire at night, for maximum effect. The title is a reference to the approximate temperature at which books burn.
This is not the first time designers have come up with unique editions of the novel. In 1953, the year Fahrenheit 451 was first released, its publisher, Ballantine Books, created two hundred copies bound in fire-resistant asbestos. The limited edition books are still highly coveted by collectors and sell for as much as $20,000 each.
In 2013, Elizabeth Perez screen-printed the book’s spine with match-striking paper, signaling it could be burned, if desired. The graphic artist says her Fahrenheit 451 book design became “insanely popular” within a short time, and she was inundated with requests from fans seeking a copy. Unfortunately, Perez only created the one concept copy. However, fans of Super Terrain’s heat-activated book might have better luck, given that the creators have promised to make more and release them for sale in 2018 – So stay tuned!