Brian Dettmer ~ New York

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are they still books? A conversation with Brian Dettmer by Helena Celdrán

Brian Dettmer: "I always begin with a book that I know will work for the ideas I have. My next step is to set the form and seal the pages so that the book is a sold material that can only be opened or revealed with a knife through the face….

"Books are physical, sculptural objects and my work seals that tendency into a solid form. A book is sealed and carved into, usually one page at a time. Nothing inside the book is ever moved or added, only subtracted or exposed. Working through the book is like reading, one page at a time, deciding what to remember, what to highlight and what to discard. The finished piece is the result of my intention, the book's insight, exposed meanings and random fragments open to new meanings and new interpretations….

"I tend to focus on non-fiction and reference books because of their non-linear nature and the rich variety of references. Also, I think these are the books that are under the most threat and really the least functional as our information is becoming digital and accessible in more immediate but less stable ways.... The content and design have to work for me and even the paper type and feeling of the book and its own unique history matter….

"I like the idea of taking something and re-defining it, re-using and re-mixing it in ways that are prevalent in music and literature today."


   
Civilization and Climate
By Brian Dettmer
Brooklyn, New York: Brian Dettmer, 2016. One-of-a-Kind.

9.25 x 6.375 x 1.5" altered book. Materials: acrylic varnish, museum glass. Signed by the artist.

Nicholas Martin, Charisma of the Book: "Dettmer creates artworks through a transformation of often used or discarded books. At turns these sculptural works isolate, alter, expand, and repurpose elements of the source material, but the works' engagement with the idea of the book transcends the mere fact of their composition.

"Dettmer often begins his practice by sealing a book with varnish, then carving away page by page: a process which invokes both reading and metamorphosis. ... Dettmer's works often surprise through what they reveal of a book."

$5,200

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Public Education
By Brian Dettmer
Brooklyn, New York: Brian Dettmer, 2016. One-of-a-Kind.

8 1/4 x 5 5/8 x 1 3/4" altered book. Materials: acrylic varnish, museum glass. Signed by the artist.

Brian Dettmer: "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.”
$5,200

 


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Brian Dettmer Out of Print Title:  
   

American Vaudeville
By Brian Dettmer
Atlanta, Georgia: Brian Dettmer, 2009. One-of-a-Kind.

9.5 x 7.75 x 1.625" altered book. Acrylic varnish. Paper carving. Signed and dated by the artist.

Brian Dettmer: "From a series of works exploring theater, exhibitionism, and performance, American Vaudeville continues to explore the idea of the book as a stage, an area for performance and presentation. This piece, derived from a book of the same title, explores the odd interests and dark underbelly of live entertainment around the beginning of our last century. What was once taboo is now considered tame and almost quaint or nostalgic. The variety of entertainment jumbles and mixes into fragments and textures like a dizzying memory of loud evening of entertainment."
(SOLD)


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The Book of the Body
By Brian Dettmer
Brooklyn, New York: Brian Dettmer, 2014. One-of-a-Kind.

9.375 x 7.75 x 1.15" altered book. Carved with Exacto knives. Acrylic varnish. Museum Glass. Designed to hang on the wall. Signed and dated by the artist.

An altered version of an unstated edition of The Way Things Work: Book of the Body.

The work is true to its original, nothing is added. But by carving through the pages to reveal illustrations and text, or at least fragments of marks that symbolically led readers from the page, Dettmer finds new pathways through the physical book. In doing so he takes us away from the text of the original while bringing us back to the very pages that text was presented on. This re presentation of content transforms the information by changing the context. Linearity is destroyed and compounded as sculptural hypertext. See the old and the new at once. The new being has depth, a depth that resists traditional reading, spurring imagination and providing, at least, new pleasures.
(SOLD)

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Complete Book of Games and Stunts
By Brian Dettmer
Atlanta, Georgia: Brian Dettmer, 2013. One-of-a-Kind.

8.25 x 6.5 x 2.75" altered book. Carved with xacto knives. Acrylic varnish. Signed and dated by the artist on the bottom of the sculpted book.

The boards of the original book have been closed back against each other to provide two arched surfaces for Dettmer to operate on. His dissection creates a book sculpture in-the-round, its form that of a slightly lopsided and flattened ellipse.

The work is true to its original, nothing is added. But by carving through the pages to reveal illustrations and text, or at least fragments of marks that symbolically led readers from the page, Dettmer finds new pathways through the physical book. In doing so he takes us away from the text of the original while bringing us back to the very pages that text was presented on. This re-presentation of content transforms the information by changing the context. Linearity is destroyed and compounded as sculptural hypertext. See the old and the new at once. The new being has depth, a depth that resists traditional reading, spurring imagination and providing, at least, new pleasures.

Brian Dettmer: "I continue to question the past, present and future of the book by exploring and expanding possibilities and perspectives of the book’s form and its content. ... Books on games reveal new matrices as a result of strategy and chance."
(SOLD)

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Games for the Superintelligent
By Brian Dettmer
Atlanta, Georgia: Brian Dettmer, 2013. One-of-a-Kind.

8.5 x 5.75 x .5" altered book. Carved with Exacto knives. Acrylic varnish. Designed to hang on the wall with hanging block included. Signed and dated by the artist on the back of the sculpture.

The work is true to its original, nothing is added. But by carving through the pages to reveal illustrations and text, or at least fragments of marks that symbolically led readers from the page, Dettmer finds new pathways through the physical book. In doing so he takes us away from the text of the original while bringing us back to the very pages that text was presented on. This re-presentation of content transforms the information by changing the context. Linearity is destroyed and compounded as sculptural hypertext. See the old and the new at once. The new being has depth, a depth that resists traditional reading, spurring imagination and providing, at least, new pleasures.

Brian Dettmer: "I continue to question the past, present and future of the book by exploring and expanding possibilities and perspectives of the book’s form and its content. ... Books on games reveal new matrices as a result of strategy and chance."
(SOLD)

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Geomorphology
By Brian Dettmer
Atlanta, Georgia: Brian Dettmer, 2012. One-of-a-Kind.

9.5 x 7.875 x 1.75" altered book. Acrylic varnish. Paper carving.

Brian Dettmer: "Loosely inspired by the idea of Bill and Vicky traveling together across the country doing what they do, ideals of travel, relationship dynamics, our country and geography."

(SOLD)


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Human Dimensions & Interior Space
By Brian Dettmer
Brooklyn, New York: Brian Dettmer, 2014. One-of-a-Kind.

12.25 x 9.25 x 1.25" altered book. Carved with Exacto knives. Acrylic varnish. Museum Glass. Designed to hang on the wall. Signed and dated by the artist on the back.

An altered version of Human Dimension & Interior Space by Julius Panero, first published in 1979.

Brian Dettmer: ““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. …

“'If I have an anatomy book I think of the book as a body and approach it like a dissection.”

(SOLD)

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Land of the Free
By Brian Dettmer
Atlanta, Georgia: Brian Dettmer, 2012. One-of-a-Kind.

8.625 x 6 x 1.875" altered book. Acrylic varnish. Paper carving.

Brian Dettmer: "Loosely inspired by the idea of Bill and Vicky traveling together across the country doing what they do, ideals of travel, relationship dynamics, our country and geography."

(SOLD)

 


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Original Fan
By Brian Dettmer
Brooklyn, New York: Brian Dettmer, 2013. One-of-a-Kind.

8.5 x 4.25 x 2" altered book. Carved with Exacto knives. Acrylic varnish. Designed to hang on the wall. Signed and dated by the artist on the back of the sculpture.

The work is true to its original, nothing is added. But by carving through the pages to reveal illustrations and text, or at least fragments of marks that symbolically led readers from the page, Dettmer finds new pathways through the physical book. In doing so he takes us away from the text of the original while bringing us back to the very pages that text was presented on. This re-presentation of content transforms the information by changing the context. Linearity is destroyed and compounded as sculptural hypertext. See the old and the new at once. The new artifact has depth, a depth that resists traditional reading, spurring imagination and providing, at least, new pleasures.

"Original Fan" is a continuation of his series on game books.

Brian Dettmer: "I continue to question the past, present, and future of the book by exploring and expanding possibilities and perspectives of the book’s form and its content. ... Books on games reveal new matrices as a result of strategy and chance."
(SOLD)

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We Kill One
By Brian Dettmer
Atlanta, Georgia: Brian Dettmer, 2011. One-of-a-Kind.

9.25 x 6.25 x 1.25" altered book. Acrylic varnish. Paper carving. Signed and dated by the artist.

Brian Dettmer: "This piece was done for the Kilkenny Arts Festival in Ireland in which they paired book artists with contemporary Irish writers. The show then went to the Galway City Museum in Galway, Ireland.

"We Kill One, from T.C. Boyle’s When the Killing’s Done is an altered book about erasure and excavation but it is also about the exposure of new ideas and poetic suggestions that emerge through erasure. The original book is about invasive species and the conflicting views on how deal with them. Pigs, rats and other non-native species throw off the balance of the ecosystem. The proposed solution is erasure, extinction of the non-native species on a specific island. In my work I excavate and remove text in order to create a new environment, one that loses the original context. The removal becomes invasive but at the same time it exposes the natural balance and structure of the text within the book."
(SOLD)


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Page last update: 10.11.16

 

   
  
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