I’m a huge fan of books. I like to read them, because they often have interesting things to say, but I also just like to look at them and to be around them. There’s something about the physical character of them, or perhaps it’s the atmosphere that they invoke through their academic cultural associations.
But as it turns out, there are some pretty cool things you can do with books beyond reading them or using them to decorate your bookcases. Take Brian Dettmer for instance. He makes art out of books. But not through a conventional, additive process. What makes Dettmer’s work so interesting is that he works in the negative, dissecting and carving books into art. This makes it a process far more akin to sculpture than collage or painting, the two art forms that I first think of when I think of book art.
In the same way that a sculptor (at least in ancient Greece or Rome) creates a statue by revealing the form within the crude marble, so Dettmer reveals the forms hidden within the books. To paraphrase some great sculptor (please help me out on the original…), “to sculpt an elephant, merely chip away that which is not an elephant,” or to quote Michaelangelo, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” And where the veins and shadings of the stone inform the sculptor in his work, so too the original contents of Dettmer’s crude literature inspire him.
The results of Dettmer’s sculpting are strangely beautiful, and assume an almost mechanical appearance, though they remain mere paper and adhesive.
But Brian Dettmer isn’t the only one doing amazing things with books these days. The people over at Apt Studio and Asylum Films made a pretty incredible stop action video for the 25th anniversary of 4th Estate. The film is entirely stop-motion photography, and took three weeks for a team of animators to create.
Source credit goes to Nick Macphee