I learned what American artist Brian Dettmer* could do with cassette tapes in the Skulls book I blogged about earlier this month. I googled to see what else he has done and glad I did! He has done a remarkable series of book sculptures (1st image, Das Weltheater," 2009, 2nd image, "Libraries of Health," 2008, 3rd image, "The Household Physicians," 2008"), and while I usually hate to see books destroyed as reading material, these - like the anonymous and whimsical sculptures left in libraries (see Library Leavings) - well warrant the transformation. I especially like the characterization of Dettmer's work, as described by the gallery that represents him in Chicago:
"Dettmer's process may also be likened to a dissection, as he uses exacto knives, tweezers, and other surgical tools to expose the inner structure of books for closer examination. The process of reading a book - of interpreting linguistic and visual cues - blinds readers to the format and logic of the medium they hold in their hands. Dettmer shifts our focus to the material organization of the book. Wafer-thin sheets of wood pulp capture only that which can be expressed in crisply printed ink. Consecutive pages force content to unfold sequentially. We see that the anatomy of the book determines the shape its subject takes, and ultimately informs the structure of human perception and knowledge."You can see plenty of his book sculptures on the web at Impose Magazine, Lost at E Minor, My Modern Met, Oddity Central, and at his own Flickr photostream. "The resulting eroded surfaces and budding linkages are at once morbid and promising," concludes Antonia Pocock, doctoral student at at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. Dettmer deconstructs rather than collages (see how he does it here), and if carving books up still bothers you, Carolyn Kellogg of the L.A. Times Blog points out that he frequently uses reference books, which get purged from shelves when they go out of date. Book corpses!
*He credits bloggers in part for the international acclaim he has received!