Ebook developers are making strides in their attempts to mimic the best elements
of the traditional reading experience. Yet real, material books remain an unmatched source of inspiration for many. Artists have long created works out of, and inspired by, books
, but the latest efforts place new emphasis on books being covetable and visionary objects, perhaps in reaction to their inevitable, and to some, dreaded demise.
: In a photographic series titled “Everything I Wish I Could Be
,” artist Kent Rogowski
explores defining life moments through arrangements of self-help books. Though memoirs
and pop neuroscience
stand to legitimize the self-help genre, Rogowski sources titles that epitomize the category’s hokier qualities (e.g., Be To Life!
, Yes I Am Happy Now!
, etc.). But these stereotypical titles attain new meaning when arranged by Rogowski alongside similar volumes. Some works, like From Birth to Death
, explore chronological progressions, while others create emotive patterns
out of disparate words and phrases. Overall, the works reflect powerfully on the complicated nature of emotion, individuality, and relationships.
: The unrelenting dominance of Instagram
suggests we’re far from seeing the decline of hazy-hued, heavily enhanced photos. But the persistence of the filter fad makes Paul Béliveau
’s photorealist paintings all the more refreshing. Béliveau’s series Les humanités
features strikingly realistic depictions of the spines of books—some in neat stacks
or arranged side by side
, others in geometric cross-sections
. Done in acrylic on canvas, these paintings capture every crease, tear, and worn edge of book and jacket, treating each volume as an art object in and of itself. Béliveau’s earlier series Les chroniques
shows similar intent, but the works reveal a more romantic sentiment.
: Book sculptor Jodi Harvey-Brown
hand-carves three-dimensional images out of the pages of her favorite books, creating art objects that are part diorama, part pop-up book, but more delicate, and less child-friendly than either. The resulting paper sculptures
reflect crucial characters and moments from their works of origin, and many are crafted to “emerge” from the open book, a literal nod to the story echoed through skilled X-acto cuts. Even hard-copy purists are likely to agree that Harvey-Brown’s artistic end results justify taking a razor to sacred pages—a pardon that a certain well-meaning reality TV star
is less likely to receive.