I saw this video on YouTube one day while searching for things to do with old books. It's about artist Brian Dettmer and his use of books in sculptures. Aside from the cool art pieces, wherein he glues books closed and then carves into them to create a relief, Dettmer has some interesting ideas about the role of books in society now that supposedly everything is becoming digitized.
Dettmer, The War on All Fronts (detail), 2010.
There's always been a difference between a book's content and the book itself as an object--don't judge a book by its cover and all that. Don Quixote reads the same in paperback format as it does in a fancy leather-bound hardback, but the hardback is invariably valued higher. Now that there are digital books, however, the same could be said for all paper-bound books: they're now objects distinctly separate from their content.
Another thing Dettmer says that's interesting is that with books, once they're sold, the creators of the book--from the author to the cover designer--have little to no control over what the purchaser does with it. The same isn't true for eBooks, where they can edit the file even after you purchase it, revoke the license, and dictate what format you read it in. In some sense, publishers own eBooks more thoroughly than they do bound books, which may or may not be a good thing.
What do you think about Dettmer's vision of the future of books? Are bound books destined to become valued more for their materials than their words?
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