Art, Books December 15, 2010 By Jennifer Pappas

Brian Dettmer <em>Goya</em> 2010 Altered Book Image, Courtesy of the Artist and MiTO Gallery

Goya, 2010, Altered Book Image, Courtesy of the Artist and MiTO Gallery (Click to see detail)

BD title Brian Dettmer
For an artist who has worked within the confines of one material for the better part of his career, Brain Dettmer’s artwork has been explained in a variety of clever ways: book autopsies, excavations, conceptual deconstructions, 3D collage. It seems his technique (using surgical tools and knives) and finished products are so unique, nobody really knows what to call it. Taking one of the most recognizable symbols of the Modern Age — books — and reinventing them in a radical, magical, unexpected way, Brian Dettmer’s become something of a sculptor, cartographer, and historian all rolled into one. Much like the surprises a reader experiences with every turn of the page, each hard-cover book sculpture involves a huge degree of happenstance. Once Dettmer seals a book and starts to carve, he has no way of knowing what’s coming next. Dettmer talked to PLANET about knowledge, power, and the tantalizing lure of the future.

Can you begin by talking about your new show, “New Worlds to Conquer”?
I’d been thinking about the quest for knowledge and exploration of the world by adventurers and authors around the beginning of the 20th century — specifically between WWI and WWII — when flight became accessible to an elite few. There was a strong drive to explore the world and share discoveries of these adventures in books. The search for knowledge and exotic places can be a slippery slope though.

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