Artist Sculpts Hyper-Real Landscape Out of Encyclopedia Set (Video)

Video screen capture. Guy Laramée via YouTube

In today's digital world, paper-printed books are giving way to electronic versions that can be purchased and downloaded online. Knowledge is being increasingly digitized and many wonder about the future of hardcopy books, despite evidence that shows that "slow reading" on paper books can be good for you.

One artist who questions the future of books in an unexpected fashion is Montréal-based artist Guy Laramée, who transforms old tomes into astounding works of art by carving realistic-looking landscapes into them. We've seen some of his works previously, and Laramée has produced some new works since then, most notably a landscape carved into a full Encyclopedia Britannica set. See a video tour of it:

Entitled "Adieu," this majestic 24-volume set has been shaped by hand and power tools to form a mountainous landscape that gradually falls away to grassland and semi-desert. Inspired by natural places that the artist visits during his travels to Brazil, Peru and Ecuador, the piece was also done in commemoration to the company ceasing the printing of its paper encyclopedias after 244 years, in favour of migrating it to digital formats. It's a fitting tribute to a sign of the times.

As seen in this video below, Laramée uses his hands and power tools to gradually form these serene, idyllic vistas of grassy slopes, contemplative caves and shores. His motivation is to question what he calls an "erosion of cultures" -- including the postmodern culture that is slowly disintegrating around the book -- while a new, digital culture arises. He also questions the deluge of data in this information age: are we in a better position to understand our true selves in this sea of distraction? (Answer: not really.)

As Laramée explains: "Ultimate knowledge could very well be an erosion instead of an accumulation." And that appears to be Laramée's core message: the peaceful erosion of the over-informed, over-educated self, to reveal the timeless landscapes of the eternal soul. More over at Guy Laramée.