Cut Up a Book.

Really - it's ok! Go ahead!* Some incredible art has come out of altering books, cutting up and rearranging text, painting pages, covering up some words and revealing others. The art of turning one work of literature into another through physical alteration has many practitioners and many names - erasure, altered books, and palimpsest, to name a few. It's stunning to look at and fun to do.

Erasure by Rebecca Brown. Image by Emmy Burns. Erasure by Rebecca Brown. Image by Emmy Burns. Erasure by Rebecca Brown. Image by Emmy Burns.
Erasures by Rebecca Brown. From Borges Foster, Jennifer (Editor). (2009). Filter Literary Journal (Vol. 2). Seattle, WA. Images by Emmy Burns.

And yes, the library does have cut-up (and painted-up, inked-up, and overlaid) books. Spend some time with A humument : a treated Victorian novel, by Tom Phillips. It began life as a cheap paperback entitled A Human Document, but it is now a powerful work of, according to the artist, "other possible stories, scenes, poems, erotic incidents, and surrealist catastrophes... memories, dreams, and reflections." Or try Radi Os, Ronald Johnson's adaptation of Milton's famous Paradise Lost.

Like what you see? Try it yourself! (Again - not on a library book, please. We really, really like to get those back. In one piece.) Check out one of our many books full of ideas and techniques. Don't worry if your last art project was in kindergarten; you don't need any background in art or writing to create your own beautiful form of artistic self-expression.

*Disclaimer: Do not do this to library books. It's awesome to make art out of old books. Just not library books. You'll have to pay for them, and I will probably be subjected to that infamous library torture, Death by a Thousand Papercuts. If you're looking to buy a few inexpensive books to play with, try our Friends Bookstore.

Submitted by Audrey @ Central


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This page contains a single entry by published on September 11, 2010 9:29 AM.

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