Today I Stumbled Upon the amazing work of artist Brian Dettmer. Dettmer is known for his alteration of old books, maps, and cassette tapes which he transforms into fine art sculptures.
Born in 1974 and raised in Naperville, Illinois, Dettmer holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Columbia College in Chicago. Initially, Dettmer worked with newspaper and book pages, gluing them to canvas and tearing off pieces to create a layered work. Today, he uses old books, first sealing them and then cutting into them to reveal images and text, resulting in three dimensional alternative representations of the material. Dettmer does not insert or move any of the contents, allowing the images and information to reveal themselves as his dissection takes place.
When I first came across Dettmer’s books, I had mixed feelings. Yes, his artistic results are unbelievably beautiful, but does it justify the mutilation of information, of history, of something that might be used by someone else to learn? I asked myself – doesn’t he feel guilty? I let that idea go after reading what Dettmer had to say when asked that same question:
“Guilt is an interesting issue. I used to. There is this idea that books are sacred relics that should be cherished for eternity, as if they are the actual information, ideas and stories they contain. Most books are mass-produced and most nonfiction books become irrelevant after a few decades. Too often, we are left with dysfunctional shells that are displayed as symbols of intellect or discarded with guilt. When carving books, I like to think that I put enough energy into the piece and pull enough power out of the piece to justify my kill.”
Dettmer’s work has been exhibited around the world and is currently on display at numerous galleries in North America and Europe. To see more of Brian Dettmer’s wonderful creations, visit his Flickr Photostream.