On the Open Road

In the 1953 work Erased de Kooning Drawing, Robert Rauschenberg set out to explore whether an artwork could be produced entirely through erasure — an act focused on the removal of marks rather than their accumulation. Inspired by this idea, On the Open Road is a reinterpretation of Jack Kerouac’s famous novel in which the original has been largely erased. All that remains is the handful of passages that qualify as Kindle Popular Highlights. According to Kindle’s website:

“Every month, Kindle customers highlight millions of book passages that are meaningful to them. We combine the highlights of all Kindle customers and identify the passages with the most highlights. The resulting Popular Highlights help readers to focus on passages that are meaningful to the greatest number of people.”

As such, this erasure reduces Keroauc’s original novel — a celebration of non-conformity and spontaneous creativity — to its passages with mass appeal. 

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