Book Work

Brian Dettmer

The age of information in physical form is waning. As intangible routes thrive with quicker fluidity, material and history are being lost, slipping and eroding into the ether. Newer media swiftly flips forms, unrestricted by the weight of material and the responsibility of history. In the tangible world we are left with a frozen material but in the intangible world we may be left with nothing. History is lost as formats change from physical stability to digital distress.

The richness and depth of the book is universally respected yet often undiscovered as the monopoly of the form and relevance of the information fades over time. The book’s intended function has decreased and the form remains linear in a non-linear world. By altering physical forms of information and shifting preconceived functions, new and unexpected roles emerge. This is the area I currently operate in. Through meticulous excavation or concise alteration I edit or dissect communicative objects or systems such as books, maps, tapes and other media. The medium’s role transforms. Its content is recontextualized and new meanings or interpretations emerge.

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Explanation of Process

In this work I begin with an existing book and seal its edges, creating an enclosed vessel full of unearthed potential. I cut into the surface of the book and dissect through it from the front. I work with knives, tweezers and surgical tools to carve one page at a time, exposing each layer while cutting around ideas and images of interest. Nothing inside the books is relocated or implanted, only removed. Images and ideas are revealed to expose alternate histories and memories. My work is a collaboration with the existing material and its past creators and the completed pieces expose new relationships of the book’s internal elements exactly where they have been since their original conception.

For more details, visit briandettmer.com.

The Life of Vertebrates, 2008
Hardcover book, acrylic varnish,
9-1/2" x 6-3/4" x 2-1/8" Image Courtesy of the Artist and Packer Schopf Gallery
Deutsche Litteraturgeschichte, 2012
Hardcover book, acrylic varnish, 9-1/2" x 7" x 2-1/8" Image Courtesy of the Artist and Toomey Tourell Fine Art
New Books of Knowledge, 2009
Hardcover books, acrylic varnish, 16" x 26-1/2" x 10" Image Courtesy of the Artist and Packer Schopf
Tower of Babble, 2011
Paperback books, acrylic varnish, 28” x 10-1/2” x 10-1/2” Image Courtesy of the Artist and Kinz + Tillou Fine Art
Lands and Peoples, detail, 2011
Hardcover books, acrylic varnish, 29” x 29” x 2” Image Courtesy of the Artist and Kinz + Tillou Fine Art
Webster Two Point Oh, 2008
Hardcover book, acrylic varnish, 11-1/2" x 19" x 11" Image Courtesy of the Artist and Kinz + Tillou Fine Art
Physics, 2009
Hardcover book, acrylic varnish, 8-3/4" x 7-1/4" x 2" Image Courtesy of the Artist and Kinz + Tillou Fine Art
You Can Do Nothing, 2012
Hardcover book, acrylic varnish, 10-1/4" x 11-1/2" x 6-3/4" Image Courtesy of the Artist and Saltworks
Saturation Will Result, 2011
Hardcover books, acrylic varnish, 46-1/2" x 35" x 16" w/ pedestal Image Courtesy of the Artist and Kinz + Tillou Fine Art
The March of Democracy, 2010
Hardcover books, acrylic varnish 18 1/2" x 19 1/2" x 4" Image Courtesy of the Artist and Saltworks
American Peoples, detail, 2011
Hardcover books, acrylic varnish, 61" x 39" x 14" Image Courtesy of the Artist and Toomey Tourell Fine Art
Emergency Exit, detail, 2012
Paperback books, acrylic varnish, 82-1/2" x 29-1/2" x 2" Image Courtesy of the Artist and Saltworks
Prose and Poetry of the World, 2011
Hardcover book, acrylic varnish, 8-1/2" x 7-1/2" x 2" Image Courtesy of the Artist and Packer Schopf
Prose and Poetry of the World, 2011
Giclée print, 8-1/2" x 7-1/2" Image Courtesy of the Artist and Packer Schopf
Americana 54 Two, 2013
Hardcover books, acrylic varnish, 45-3/8” x 35-1/2” x 2-1/2” Image Courtesy of the Artist and Kinz + Tillou Fine Art
Tower 2 (Britannica), 2012
Hardcover books acrylic varnish, 89-1/2” x 15” x 15” Image Courtesy of the Artist and Kinz + Tillou Fine Art
Tower 1 (Britannica), (DETAIL), 2012
Hardcover books acrylic varnish, 89-1/2” x 15” x 15” Image Courtesy of the Artist and Saltworks
20th Century Medica, 2012
Hardcover Book, Acrylic Varnish, 10.125 x 11.625 x 4.375" Image courtesy of the Artist and Toomey Tourell Fine Art

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