by Avi Abrams - link

Life is a book too, you know

We love books. Most people still prefer to read a good book by leafing through the pages, instead of staring at the computer screen - that impersonal rectangle full of deathly-cold, bluish pixels, which cause twitching movements of your scrolling finger and "I need to check my email" mind trance :)

...I certainly hope that books are going to weather the technological maelstrom and re-emerge at the other end, transformed, but essentially the same. By "transformed" I mean that we just might end up with ONE book (a bunch of wireless electronic ink pages), that can download any other book for us in a wink. Still, it should have pages, not a silly screen. But maybe it's too much to ask... we'll see.

(image credit: Vladimir Kush)

As for today's subject - we are covering wildly modified books (which exist mainly for the sake of art), books that are essentially impossible to read, and pieces of art made FROM books (though I have doubts about the last idea. I am one who would rather see "no books were hurt during the production..." disclaimer)

(image credit: Selinas Wayne)

"Codex Seraphinianus" - quite awesome, but quite unreadable

In 1978 a mysterious package arrived at the Franco Maria Ricci's Publishing House in Milano, Italy. It was "Codex Seraphinianus" - a lavishly illustrated manuscript written in a weirdest alphabet, not seen anywhere else. The illustrations were of bizarre animals and strange rituals, reminiscent of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" psychedelics, married with Hieronymus Bosch. If you can read this book, you'll possess keys to parallel Universes, or so they say. According to Wikipedia, "the language of the codex has defied complete analysis by linguists for decades". At least we know that the title word "Seraphinianus" is the acronym for "Strange and Extraordinary Representations of Animals and Plants and Hellish Incarnations of Normal Items from the Annals of Naturalist/Unnaturalist Luigi Serafini".


Cool means of transportation:

new breed of humans

rainbows, like we never see them on Earth:

a set of coordinates for spaghetti plate:

a larval horse:

a kind of the "eye-fish":

(images credit: Archimedes Lab)

You can order this rare & expensive book from Amazon for only $550, or you can also have a peek at this photoset on Flickr.
...Leaves a slightly nutty flavor after viewing it, trust me.

The Voynich Manuscript - a real mystery

The previous book appears to be a homage to another "untranslatable artifact" - The Voynich Manuscript (see Wikipedia article, which reads like a "Da Vinci Code" storyline wannabe). Unknown script, unknown author, bizarre illustrations with mainly biological and cosmological themes, acquired first by an obscure alchemist in Prague in the 17th century:

Another good article about this manuscript is here.

Some books are so unique as to be almost from a different reality, yet other books are disposable enough to be turned into...art:

Sue Blackwell turns books into sculpted memories

The artist' website calls it a book-cut sculpture, an ephemeral and highly personal way to convey a message; the artist compares it with "receiving a marked-up copy of a book from a friend. It's like turning books into memories".

A Secret Garden:

Birds of the Open Forest:

A Quiet American:

(images by permission of Sue Blackwell)

Thomas Allen gives an extra cutting-edge to pulp fiction

The action of various pulp novels, under the creative touch of Thomas Allen, literally jumps from the gaudy covers into reality. The carved figurines of villains and damsels in distress battle each other and pose dramatically in three dimensions. You be the judge if it enhances the contents within.

This might leave you cold if you don't care much for vintage paperbacks, or might leave you all hot & bothered, if you are a collector and can't stand the sight of perfectly good collectibles being destroyed for the sake of art. In any case, enjoy a clip of a dramatic chipmunk (oh no, I finally linked to it, didn't I?), and lets move on to the actual examples of the modern book-binding art.

Creative Publishing

If you misplaced one of your golf balls, chances are, your wife is reading it:

Fancy wood cover, and more:

Almost like a Hallmark card, very pretty:

A face with acupuncture points:

That's not a ruler:

More like a designer promotional product, "Fold-it-Yourself":

Insert your bird here...

Library "warp" portal in Kansas City:
("Good as Gold" by the artist Donald Lipski)

(image credit: Auntie G.)


Also read One Sheet of Paper - paper-cut art.

Permanent Link...
Category: Art,History


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Blogger Roo said...

What an absolutely fantastic and stunning collection of book art!
I don't often feel compelled to plug other blogs, but I have blogged it on this occassion!

I did a smaller blog on some artistically recycled books a while ago you may be also interested in, you can find that here

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

Thank you Roo,
Great collection of book art links!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love these books, which are truely inspirational. I think I will try to create one myself. Thanks for the ideas.


Blogger Oniony said...

For anyone who'd like a copy of the Codex Seraphinianus, you can get a reprint from http://www.internetbookshop.it/code/9788817013895/SERAFINI-LUIGI/CODEX-SERAPHINIANUS.html

Though unless you speak Italian you'll need to take a few visits to your translation tool of choice. Also note when ordering that the choice of Spanish or Italian refers only to a small informative booklet you get in a plastic sleeve inside the back cover. I assume it's informative but to a non-Italian speaker like me it's as undecipherable as the codex itself.

Fanstastic book by the way, it's huge (atlas sized) and beautifully drawn. It will have pride of place on my coffee table should I ever buy a coffee table.

Blogger Mez said...

Just to let you know that the link to Peter Callesen's paper-based art in your older post on paper-cut art "One Sheet of Paper" (8-Nov-2006) has changed. It's now at www.petercallesen.com

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

Thank you Mez,
I updated it.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

thats a tennis ball not a golf ball

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a tennis ball.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to be clear, I am not a redundant commenter; I'm a different Anonymous from Anonymous 1.
I am Anonymous Bosch.

Anonymous leo said...

'Creative Publishing' its not a golf ball, its a tennis ball ;)

Anonymous Gina said...

Great article and photos. I enjoyed it.


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