There is undeniable strength in the power of the written word. However, there are few book artists who have taken such a literal understanding of this concept as has American philosopher, mathematician and discarded book rehabilitator Robert The. In his Book Guns series, The has carved books found in thrift stores and dumpsters into startling, provocative works of art. There is an ironic dimension to his recycled artwork as he “lovingly vandalize[s]” these forgotten objects “back to life so they can assert themselves against the culture which turned them into debris.”
Though The is quite secretive about his creative process he did tell the Chicago Reader that he uses a power saw to cut through the pages, sparing the binding to serve as the barrel of the gun and thereby making the sculpture a flippable work of art.
The books he repurposes are carefully chosen for the strength of their bindings and the resonance of their titles. While he has lately been focused on defiling Rush Limbaugh books (“funner than the Bible,” he says), previous titles include The Catcher in the Rye and The Medium is the Message.
The book art of Robert The isn’t limited to gun sculptures. He has also created a less provocative, but no less fascinating, Book Works series that sees books transformed into everything from a lobster to a broom to a noose.
There is no denying the visceral power of Robert The’s sculptures, not to mention the strength he must possess to cut so cleanly through the layers of a book! What do you think of turning discarded books into guns? Would this be an art piece you would display in your home, or is too aggressive for your decor?