Books are many things. They contain variegated meanings and activate our imagination. For me at least, they occupy a sacred space, as though they are semi-conscious objects. Books are the only items besides my record collection and a few family heirlooms that have traveled with me my entire life. I would be heartbroken if they were destroyed.
It’s interesting, then, that I’m so drawn to altered books. In the process of destroying a book’s original physicality and transforming it into something radically different, an artist crafts new narratives and triggers our imagination in ways the original book could not.
Please enjoy these sample galleries and be sure to visit each artist’s website.
“Library of the Infinitesimally Small and Unimaginably Large is an ongoing project that started in 2011. The altered books are made from found books, particularly old books of maps and atlases. The books become both reference and raw material for sculptures, paper installations and digital animation. The books, sentences, words and letters become elements of a new visual narrative in which the old and new forms co-exist. Through the act of altering books and other paper based objects the intention is to draw emphasis to our understanding of history as mediated through text or language and our understanding of the abstract terms of science through metaphor.”Barbara Wildenboer
“Through my work in the tradition of collage I am pursuing a very personal obsession of creating narrative scenarios in small format. By using antiquarian books, it makes the work simultaneously an exploration and a deconstruction of nostalgia.
“We create our own past from fragments of reality in a process that combines the willful aspects of remembering and forgetting with the coincidental and unconscious.
“On a general level, I aim to illustrate this process that forms our inner landscape.
“By using pre-existing media as a starting point, certain boundaries are set by the material, which I aim to transform through my process. Thus, an encyclopedia can become a window into an alternate world, much like lived reality becomes its alternate in remembered experience. These books, having been stripped of their utilitarian value by the passage of time, regain new purpose. They are no longer tools to learn about the world, but rather a means to gain insight about oneself.
“I make book sculptures / cut books by working through a book, page by page, cutting around some of the illustrations while removing others. In this way, I build my composition using only the images found in the book.”Alexander Korzer Robinson
“Every book that I alter was found by a dumpster in Seattle, a recycling bin, a thrift store, or was given to me by someone who no longer wants it. Rather than have these discarded books sit out in the rain or in some store to gather dust, I’m striving to make good use of them. I love books very much and would never carve into one that was valuable. I just want to give them a new life and a second chance to mean something again.
“As to how I make these – glue, an x-acto knife, Micron pens, watercolors and lots of love.”Isobelle Ouzman