10. Patron: If I was feeling particularly existentialist, what book would you recommend for me?
9. Patron: Hi. I’m looking for a book called Bay Wolves. Can you help me find it?
Me: Sure, let me look it up for you… Hmmm, sorry we don’t have any books by that name. Do you know the author’s name, maybe?
Patron: No, but I think it’s spelled kind of weird, like B-E-O… wolves.
Me: …Do you mean Beowulf?
8. Patron: Can you help me find the Law Library?
Me: [pulls out a map] The Law Library is right here. You just walk down this street, turn this corner, and you’ll be there.
Patron: Thanks, hopefully they’ll have a book about Newton’s Laws.
Me: Uh, maybe you’re looking for the Physics Library instead…?
These artists give books a second life as beautiful works of art, converting everything from outdated computing books to children’s classics into visual masterpieces, all using little more than a scalpel and some imagination. In no particular order (they’re too awesome to rank) here are the top ten artworks created from old books:
“Pandora Opens Box” by Sue Blackwell.
It is the delicacy, the slight feeling of claustrophobia, as if these characters, the landscape have been trapped inside the book all this time and are now suddenly released. A number of the compositions have an urgency about them, the choices made for the cut-out people from the illustrations seem to lean towards people on their way somewhere, about to discover something, or perhaps escaping from something. And the landscapes speak of a bleak mystery, a rising, an awareness of the air.
A landscape created out of cut up paper by Scottish artist Georgia Russell.
One of the masterfully crafted book landscapes from Canadian interdisciplinary artist (and part time anthropologist) Guy Laramée.
We are currently told that the paper book is bound to die. The library, as a place, is finished. One might ask so what? Do we really believe that “new technologies” will change anything concerning our existential dilemma, our human condition? And even if we could change the content of all the books on earth, would this change anything in relation to the domination of analytical knowledge over intuitive knowledge? What is it in ourselves that insists on grabbing, on casting the flow of experience into concepts?
“There are eight million stories in the Naked City. This has been one of them.” - From The Naked City
In 2010, Brandon Stanton lost his job as a trader in Chicago. Despite his mother’s objections, Stanton moved to New York City to pursue the latest thing with which he had become “borderline-obsessed“: photography.
At first, Stanton was only snapping pictures of the city’s residents. His original goal was simply “to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers and plot their photos on a map.” But after a few months, Stanton began adding captions and commentary to the photographs. “Taken together,” the photographer explains, “these portraits and captions became the subject of a vibrant blog, which over the past two years has gained a large daily following. With nearly one million collective followers on Facebook and Tumblr, HONY now provides a worldwide audience with glimpses into the lives of strangers in New York City.”
In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald called New York City the “wild promise of all the mystery and beauty in the world.” Some eighty-eight years later, it still holds all that mystery and beauty, and through his lens and careful attention, Stanton helps develop those stories in colorful resolution.
The following are just a few of my favorite images and stories. Follow Humans of New York here.
These days the world of independent bookstores (and giant chains of bookstores) just has to get more and more eye catching to compete with readers’ shrunken attention spans. What to do? Hire the entire cast of Mad Men and come up with one of these genius spots, to start:
1. Mint Vinetu, Vilnius, 2011.
2. Whitcoullis, New Zealand, 2011. Amazingly the poster includes all the words to A Clockwork Orange. (Because it’s just the kind of novel you want to read in really tiny script…)
3. L’Echange, Montreal, 2007. See another here. An ingenious marketing strategy for a popular secondhand book store.