What to do with those old books? Cut them up.

Brian Dettmer has taken recycling to a totally new level by transforming the giant books of old into works of art. He uses surgical knives and tweezers to cut the sculptures out page by page. In what I am sure is an exhausting exercise he slowly unfolds a work of art from what many would call an obsolete object due to the rapid changes in the way we store our information. (Unless of course zombies attack and then we will be back to hoarding books and will probably be pissed at Brian for cutting up medical texts. . .) In his artist’s statement he says “The age of information in physical form is waning. As intangible routes thrive with quicker fluidity, material and history are being lost, slipping and eroding into the ether. . . The book’s intended function has decreased and the form remains linear in a non-linear world.” His solution to this quagmire is destroying it’s intended purpose and then rediscovering what is hiding beneath those would have been moth eaten pages, much like Michelangelo would uncover the form hiding beneath stone.

This is how he describes his process: “In this work I begin with an existing book and seal its edges, creating an enclosed vessel full of unearthed potential. I cut into the surface of the book and dissect through it from the front. I work with knives, tweezers and surgical tools to carve one page at a time, exposing each layer while cutting around ideas and images of interest. Nothing inside the books is relocated or implanted, only removed. Images and ideas are revealed to expose alternate histories and memories. My work is a collaboration with the existing material and its past creators and the completed pieces expose new relationships of the book’s internal elements exactly where they have been since their original conception.”

Here is a video from Elk City’s Renée LoBue discussing the title and artwork for their latest album, House of Tongues, out on Friendly Fire Records.

ELK CITY- House of Tongues Promo #2 from ancientDOMAIN on Vimeo.

You can find more about Brian Dettmer from his website at briandettmer.com.


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