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Things you can do with a book: sculpt it, scrape it, turn it into a cave

Posted by Kevin Hartnett  July 18, 2013 10:42 AM

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Earlier this month the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art in Charleston wrapped up an exhibition called "Rebound: Dissections and Excavations in Book Art," which featured work from five mixed-media artists who "sculpt, scrape, bend, and carve" the printed page. The exhibition showed books to be a surprisingly versatile and evocative medium. One artist sculpted what appears to be a South Pacific islandscape across the top of a row of staid-looking volumes. Other, more invasive artistic interventions, included a copy of Webster's Dictionary with a cave-like hole bored into the cover, and a stack of the magazine Art Forum disintegrating into a phantasmagoric swirl, as if overcome by the vitality of the art featured in its pages. In each case, the visual elements collude with the content of the books and the sacred ideas we have about the written word, so that it feels like you're seeing much more than the printed page transformed.

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Images courtesy of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art.

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.

Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.

Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.

Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.


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