Art, Books December 15, 2010 By Jennifer Pappas

Brian Dettmer <em>History of the World</em> 2010 Altered Book, Image courtesy of the Artist and MiTO Gallery

History of the World, 2010, Altered Book, Image courtesy of the Artist and MiTO Gallery

What do you think the book represents now in our increasingly digital age? Has its role become obsolete or has it simply evolved?
I don’t think books are obsolete and I don’t think they ever will be. It’s still a superior form. Digital technology is constantly shifting, being lost and changing formats. A paperback from 100 years ago can still be read in the same way 100 years from now, but I can’t open some word files from 10 years ago. It’s a frightening time; all of our records are being recorded in unstable methods that rely on conditions and systems that are constantly changing. I think the novel in book form will never die, but I do think certain types of non-fiction have become almost completely irrelevant to most people. No one is going to use a 10-pound dictionary or thousand-dollar set of encyclopedias when they have instant access online… It’s exciting and frightening at the same time. I like my work to be the same.

In your opinion, what’s the biggest loss the next generation will suffer when it comes to the way we gather, store, and recall information?
I don’t know how to predict the future, but I wonder how our grandchildren will look at family photos. Every few years I have to update or buy a new computer. The constant maintenance required to prevent loss will become exhausting, not just for photos, but for music, text and records of our own history.

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