Brian Dettmer creates detailed sculptures out of books. He describes these pieces as “a collaboration with the existing material and its past creators” in the sense that the final pieces lend new meaning to the book’s internal elements.

The pieces concern the changing role of physical objects in the information age. According to the statement on Dettmer’s website

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.

Some of our favourite pieces by Dettmer follow, but you can view many more – as well as find out more information about Dettmer and his work – on his website at

“Webster Withdrawn,” an altered book
“Wagnall’s Wheel”, an altered set of encyclopedias
“Tower of Babble”, made from paperback books
“The Facts of Files”, made from hardcover books
“Smith’s Scientific Series”, made from hardcover books
“Organized Knowledge in Story & Picture”, made from an altered set of vintage encyclopedias
“Kingdom”, made from altered books
“Encyclopedias of World Travel”, made from an altered book


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