Artist slices vintage books into sculptures to preserve 'threatened information systems'

Barbara Wildenboer
© Barbara Wildenboer

With the emergence of e-readers, many have been predicting the demise of books -- though, funnily enough, books (with all their familiar tactility) are still quite popular. But while newer books may enjoy wide readership, vintage books may be today's unspoken casualties. So what to do with them? Some paint on them, others carve sculptures, artists like South African Barbara Wildenboer cut old books into new anatomically inspired visions of nature.

Barbara Wildenboer© Barbara Wildenboer
Barbara Wildenboer© Barbara Wildenboer
Barbara Wildenboer© Barbara Wildenboer

Seen over at This Is Colossal and using discarded atlases, encyclopedias to scientific reference books, Wildenboer slices their pages with a scalpel, delicately creating a network of vein-like structures or negative spaces where various nature-inspired forms are silhouetted.

Barbara Wildenboer© Barbara Wildenboer
Barbara Wildenboer© Barbara Wildenboer

The tactile power of words are emphasized in an abstract way; Wildenboer sees encyclopedias as a "threatened information system," and her use of these forsaken volumes is a way to preserve and highlight their importance in the history of the written word.

Barbara Wildenboer© Barbara Wildenboer

As a child, Wildenboer had a fascination with pop-up books, and her passion for remaking these vintage books into a grown-up's version, inspired by fractal geometry, is apparent. Some have said that her works allude to shifting tectonic plates, or the interconnectedness of all living things. Certainly these ephemeral webs of fragile paper do recall how tenuous the web of life can be.

Barbara Wildenboer© Barbara Wildenboer
Barbara Wildenboer© Barbara Wildenboer

These are provocative, labour-intensive works of art that remind us that an old book is not only a reliquary of outdated knowledge, but an ever-evolving act of knowledge-transmission that is not only found in written form, but also found in the very expression of life itself. More over at Barbara Wildenboer.

Tags: Artists | Arts | Recycled Consumer Goods | South Africa

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