art: Brian Dettmer reanimates dead books, tapes and mapsApril 11, 2011
I write this in the shadow of a wall of books, some of which I have been carting around since my first apartment, age 18. Very few — hello carefully wrapped, cloth-bound edition of Leaves of Grass — are valuable in the monetary sense. Most are sentimental snapshots of my former self. Still others are what I hope to become, chiefly the kind of person who will not only begin Anna Karenina and Don Quixote, but actually finish them. They are all relics of what we’ll probably call our paper age, quickly being pushed over if not back by the digital age of ebooks and iTunes and Netflix.
I am sentimental about books. Brian Dettmer cuts beyond that. Like, with a knife that is not metaphorical in the least. Called the Book Surgeon for his series of sculptures made from books (“like reading with a knife,” he says in the sprint-paced video about his work above, filmed at Atlanta’s 2009 Pecha Kucha art forum. The Book Surgeon also takes knife and pliers and, I guess, blow torches to maps and video and audio cassettes and makes them into the most amazing works of sculpture.
Watch the video slideshow from Pecha Kucha, of Brian’s work and the artist describing his intentions and techniques. I found it on Brian’s excellent website, which has a stack of photos of his work.
(With thanks to Alfredo Aponte. who made the video, and to Asmaa Malik for introducing me to Brian Dettmer and, of course, to Brian himself.)