Paper Back Altered Books

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The Facts on File © Courtesy of the artist and Packer Schopf Gallery
Paper Back Altered Books

942 W. Lake St.
Chicago, IL 60608
November 4th, 2011 - November 20th, 2011
Opening: November 4th, 2011 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM

West Loop/West Town
Tuesday - Saturday 11am - 5:30pm


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.

In this work Dettmer begins with an existing book and seals its edges, creating an enclosed vessel full of unearthed potential. He cuts into the surface of the book and dissects through it from the front. He works 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. Dettmer’s work is a collaboration with the existing material and its past creators.  The completed pieces expose new relationships of the book’s internal elements exactly where they have been since their original conception.