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The Bittersweet Art of Cutting Up Books


"QUANTUM SHOT" #479
Link - article by Avi Abrams




Unusual Book & Page Sculptures, Part 2

We wrote before about new trend of making art statements and sculptures out of used books (see our Part 1). Some readers complained that they abhor the idea of cutting up books, no matter what value the book might still have or what's printed inside. Others suggested quite the opposite: why not donate some used bookstore's inventory to the artists (and even freely ship it to them).

Without entering this discussion, let us just say that most original art requires an unusual media of expression - and be glad it's not your run-of-the-mill Twitter messages that make it into a work of art... yet.

Books being transformed back into trees... sort of

We'll start with the book sculptures by Jacqueline Rush Lee, one of the most original "book transformer". When you see a bunch of old books compressed into a sliced tree trunk object, you can't help but wonder how long a tree had to grow to provide the paper for any of these books....


(image credit: Jacqueline Rush Lee)


And then cube slice is even more impersonal and unnatural shape, more suitable to recycling (you can say these books were "recycled" into art) -




These installations also seem to explore the idea of sheer paper mass that went into making all these books. Here is the amorphous, almost crawling mass of encyclopedia's pages:




And then there are book remnants and textures, such as these:




Jacqueline writes to us: "I am a sculptor who has been transforming books for over ten years now. I do all sorts of things to books: I’ve petrifyied them in kilns (Ex Libris on my site), screwed them together and made them into geometric forms (Volumes), extracted the dyes to make a large-scale fresco (Epic), and hand-painted them with ink and manipulated the forms (Devotion Series)."

Cara Barer shows us how an open book can look like a monster, or something dancing in the air:





A Good Potboiler: what makes a book tick -

Study the inner workings of a plot and characterization in this incredibly open and visual way: books dissected and enhanced by mixed media - designed by Brian Dettmer.





Some call it "Book Autopsies"; I'd call it "hack writing, with 3D illustrations". The anatomical "content" looks especially interesting:




Other work from Brian Dettmer includes some kind of fossil formations, with books revealed in them:



Scalpel Art has to be even more precise... But the book itself is basically trashed. Georgia Russell is responsible for this irresistible "carnage":




It feels like these books have to be contained, otherwise they would explode in streams of wild tangle all over the room:




Other really awesome book art: from Su Blackwell -




"The Book of Nails" by Daniel Essig:




(work by Seann Gray-Eskne, image via)


First edition Emerson (colorful, inspiring poetry) -


(image credit: Peggy Dembicer)


Profile of a really well-read individual

Aaron Packer in his gallery shows this wonderful book sculpture:



Mike Stilkey has been featured before on our site... his whimsical book figures (maybe pulp fiction heroes?) are great addition to someone's collection or library:




But even he gets overwhelmed sometimes by the sheer amount of used books:




The Color-Coded Bookstore

This definitely would not be practical on permanent basis (how would you find any book there on your own?) - but as a one time art project, local San Francisco artist Chris Cobb arranged all 20,000 books inside the Adobe Store by color! Read more info, and an interview with Chris:




Rainbow covers are supposed to bring joy into your head, and thus enhance the message of books - with unexpected happiness.


Book furniture made from books? Isn't it like a wine glass made from wine?

Chris Cobb did not re-design the shelving, but other artists have very cool ideas about how book shelves should look:


(image credit: Jacqueline Rush Lee)


Instructables have a step-by-step instructions on how to make an invisible (floating) bookshelf:




More cool shelves made from books by artist Jim Rosenau:




...including the funny themed ones:




What other pieces of furniture can be made from useless books lying around? Chairs! -




Vases! - see works by Laura Cahill:




Lamps! - from BomDesign:




Finally, if you got too many books to read, why not just crawl into a Book Cell? (project by Matej Kren)


(image via)


And there is a whole other subject of sculptures created for libraries - not made out of books, but designed to co-exist with books - such as this incredible "Eternity" sculpture in the library of monastery Melk, Austria:


(image credit: Cilest)

Selah.


Article by Avi Abrams, Dark Roasted Blend.


CONTINUE TO "AWESOME BOOKSHELVES"! ->

Read the rest of our "UNUSUAL BOOKS" category ->





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YOUR COMMENTS::

38 Comments:

Anonymous krazd said...

Wow that is amazing. Who comes up with this stuff?

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Anonymous Isa said...

Some of this stuff is gorgeous. I'm one of those people who is a little iffy about destroying books, but I think the only person who's really *destroyed* anything is whoever created the first eight pieces. Using a book to make art is not so bad as long as that art is beautiful; the first few just look like piles of trash.

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Blogger Jocelyn Testes-Harder said...

s'better than readin' 'em!

FilthyRichmond.com

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know shameless self promotion is in bad taste, but my work is very similar in that I deconstruct books to create new books. Feel free to check out www.matthewhall.info to see it.

My compliments to the artists and author of this post. It is always nice to see that I am not the only one that finds old books to be a wonderful medium for new work.

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Anonymous Jack said...

and only 6 comments for so great post? wow quite impressive.

thanks for the great collection, you must have spent lots of time to collect them

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Anonymous some book repair chick said...

Ah yes, the heady aroma of rotting paper, foxing and mildew...my nose hurts--somebody open a window!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent post - it's also very nice to see the care you put into crediting and linking the original artists.

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Blogger Sugarblush said...

wow. great collection. I love these images. Its great to see how creativy is taken to such a detailed level

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Blogger Torley said...

Readful compilation! ;D

But you mean "Instructables", not "Inscrutables" (altho that could've been a funny Freudian slip).

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Blogger viliri said...

Biografias - Buechersturz: http://www.ok-centrum.at/presse/downloads/schaurausch/DSCF7643_40.jpg

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's the information conveyed by books that's critical, not books themselves. Books are analogous to hard drives, TVs, radios; not to data, movies, or music. Lining walls with books that aren't read -- most homes and libraries -- provides good insulation, especially from radiation. Merely possessing a book conveys no information.

My only comment is that I'd value most of the art illustrated less than I would recycling books into coffee cups or napkins. Simply burning books adds to greenhouse gases without much redeeming value.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's hard to explain poetry to those who only see prose.

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Anonymous Aurelien P. said...

That's splendid !

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Blogger Kim said...

@ Isa, I do think the first eight are beautiful !

I am iffy about destroying books, but with the caveat that there must be a purpose, and also my thougths about printed material have changed over 15 years, with digital saving of printed materials, and as long as the books treated in this way are not rare

i see many books throw out on trash day, and also old books thrown out by our local library when they reach a certain stage of wear

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Anonymous 256 said...

The best comment I've ever heard on the ethics of book-cutting art was in an article that involved cutting up a thesaurus. The dilemma was solved: "... but that's ok, because I don't believe in synonyms."

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Blogger Mary Cartledgehayes said...

These are fabulous! I'm making mail art out of my own book and loved seeing what others are doing.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you are looking for free books that are otherwise going to be thrown out, you should try checking your local ReUseIt Network group. It's a great place to find things like this for free!

http://www.reuseitnetwork.org/

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Anonymous darin said...

Some of this is quite nice. Although I can't see using any of my own books for art, I would like to have some of these pieces.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't the mind the use of the newer fiction novels or the stuff bought in bulk via Goodwill for the art installments but things like the desecration of the original Alice in Wonderland leaves me rather speechless. I have a love of books and it's great to see that they are a popular medium but to see antiquarian books destroyed like that doesn't sit with me at all. As the world turns more digital with the E-Books and the Kindle- printed books will become much harder to keep and preserve.

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Blogger thanbo said...

interesting that you pick a sculpture from the monastic library at melk.

adso of melk was the viewpoint character in eco's "name of the rose", which centered on a monastery library.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

:(

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Blogger Avogana said...

I've seen some of these before and I always enjoy seeing them. Yours seems to be the best compilation of them. Nice job.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

if you want to find out more about brian dettmer, the man and artist, check this post out

brian dettmer: book autopsies

he was so incited by herocious that he personally left a rather lengthy comment.

got a laugh out of it at least.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The humanoid book sculpture linked to at Aron Packer Gallery is also by Brian Dettmer.

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Blogger Kelly Kilmer said...

I used to work at a major big box bookstore. Most people would be amazed and disgusted at the number of books and magazines that are THROWN AWAY every single day. Making art out of a book that would otherwise be tossed or disregarded, is called recycling and it's one of my loves!! These are all AMAZING works.

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Blogger Frances said...

I agree with that last guy. Having worked in bookstores for many years, I no longer have the special reverence I had for them growing up. There are thousands thrown out and filling up landfills and ocean dumps every day. Yes, even very old copies of Alice and Wonderland, of which there are untold millions around the globe. Making something fascinating and beautiful out of them lets me look at them and really see them in a way I haven't in a while: as things of wonder.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its Fantastic, I am speechless about the book art.

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Anonymous lagunatic said...

Gorgeous, beautiful, inspiring, powerful, evocative...but damn you better watch out for silverfish.

(and that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you can be a smarta$$ and killjoy all at the same time)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ugh, books are good for reading, that is their intention, their purpose.
This is creative and some of the pieces are impressive but I have to look down on this project. Some of the pieces were NOT good at all, definitly not worth destroying literature and others (Alice) were of amazing books that should not be butchered.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love these fabulous works of art! I am a great fan of book cutting, and i have done several book cuttings myself. Georgia Russell's work was what first inspired me to try it. Superb. :)

And although i can see why many people do not approve of book cutting (although i don't agree), the only types of book that i would not do this on would be religious literature, because of the obvious disrespect.

Keep up the beautiful work fellow sculpters! :)

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Blogger Moriah said...

Lovely work, however I can see why someone wouldn't like this.

In my opinion, the book itself is a work of art. Someone [a writer, a bookbinder, and others] worked hard on it. In a way, cutting it up is [or can be] a type of disrespect.

But there are just so many used books in the world. First editions, rare books, and old/antique religious books I believe should be spared from this.

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Blogger Moriah said...

Oh, I forgot to add, I think a more ethical way to go about this would be to create your own book [which is what I do]. This way, you could have complete control over how the book looks.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is some work done with newspaper and books collaged like photo's.

http://www.martijnhesseling.nl

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Blogger Hands to Work, Hearts to God said...

The first pictures remind me of when my books were flooded and i had to dry them- I should just have made them into art! Saturday, October 9, 2010 11:37:19
OCTOBER 9
...
Photo for Patricia Paterno
From:
Patricia Paterno [Chat now]
...
View Contact
To: Patricia Paterno

Patsy from
HeARTworks

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OpenID cherishedbooks said...

I really admire some of the creators of this book "artwork", but there's a part of me that really struggles with the idea of wilful damage. I guess in the end it comes down to the rarity of the publication.

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Blogger bronia sawyer said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

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Blogger Anoosh Iqbal said...

Using old book pages is an awesome way to craft green. So many books find their way into landfills and that's so sad. As crafters we should look for more ways to reuse and upcycle. I really liked this Book of Books as well http://www.amazon.com/Book-Books-Projects-beautiful-ornaments-ebook/dp/B00MGJADUK/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1407385936&sr=8-5&keywords=mahe+zehra. It shares many interesting projects. Altered Upcycling also has an awesome website and lots of free ebook offers if you sign up.

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Blogger Anoosh Iqbal said...

Love this project. Old book pages are such an awesome craft supply. Check out this Book of Books for more ideas by Altered Upcycling. http://www.amazon.com/Book-Books-Projects-beautiful-ornaments-ebook/dp/B00MGJADUK/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1407385936&sr=8-5&keywords=mahe+zehra. You can even sign up on their website for free ebooks!

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