The first time I came across the work of a book sculptor I thought, 'This is incredible! How unique, how stunning!' The second time I came across a book sculptor's work I thought, 'Amazing - there's another one of them out there!' The third time I came across a new collection of book sculptures I thought, 'My goodness, how many of these people are out there? And how come I got stuck with the artistic prowess of a monkey?' Finding Brian Dettmer's work didn't help. His are possibly the most awe-inspiring yet.
The Chicago-born, Atlanta-based artist describes his work thusly:
The richness and depth of the book is universally respected yet often undiscovered as the monopoly of the form and relevance of the information fades over time. The book’s intended function has decreased and the form remains linear in a non-linear world. By altering physical forms of information and shifting preconceived functions, new and unexpected roles emerge. This is the area I currently operate in. Through meticulous excavation or concise alteration I edit or dissect communicative objects or systems such as books, maps, tapes and other media. The medium’s role transforms. Its content is recontextualized and new meanings or interpretations emerge.
And this is how he does it:
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.
Piece of cake, right?