Wondering what to do with your old books that are taking up precious room in your house, yet you’re no longer reading? If you’re Guy Laramée, you transform them into three-dimensional works of art.
He “reads” books differently than you or I or the average reader, though. He gets his inspiration from old bookstores, and one project could take many months to complete. The ingredients? Paper and book bindings, plus a big dose of creativity from Laramée, of course.
This may have been a Chinese dictionary at one point, but now…?
And you may want to think twice before crossing this bridge…
Titled, Desert of Unknowning:
“We are currently told that the paper book is bound to die,” Laramée says on his website. “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?”
Laramée asks some good questions, right?
“So I carve landscapes out of books and I paint romantic landscapes,” he continues. “Mountains of disused knowledge return to what they really are: mountains. They erode a bit more and they become hills. Then they flatten and become fields where apparently nothing is happening. Piles of obsolete encyclopedias return to that which does not need to say anything, that which simply IS. Fogs and clouds erase everything we know, everything we think we are.”
With Laramée’s work, you can travel, so to speak, to many different landscapes… all by standing in one place and absorbing yourself into the settings of his art.
You can go hide out in a cave… “And what if the cave, instead of being our prison, would be our ultimate refuge, our only temple? What if, instead of hiding away from the play of shadows on the wall, we would sit down and try to see through them?” Laramée states on his website.
Or, you can traverse this mountain range made from 1933 Austrian encyclopedias. “I was interested in depicting this mountain range because the topography of it seemed to me to somewhat portray our existential condition,” Laramée says on his website.
“We wander on cozy grassy meadows until we realized that they end abruptly into an abyss. We would like to continue our cozy journey on the plain, but the slope starts to rise leaving us no choice: or we climb what gradually becomes a steep mountain, or we fall into the void. We could always draw back and come back home, but there are some challenges that cannot be avoided, and they are the one that makes us realize that there is never any coming back.”
Or you can go contemplate life. “Everything we know, everything we did, everything we think we are, everything and everyone we love, all this will be wiped out,” Laramée states on his website. “We would like to think that something will remain, culture, knowledge, or call it ‘life’ if you don’t want to call it God, but of this also, we have no certitude. ‘No certitude’ seems to be the only one we have, but even this is a concept, and concepts are the first thing to go down the drain, aren’t they?”
Here is another view. Stunning, huh?
Though Laramée has been an artist for over 30 years, he didn’t always create works of art from literature. In 1999, Laramée was in a metal shop in Montreal and saw a sandblasting gun, and the idea was born. Like the books, the rest was history.
You can also see him at work in transforming vintage books into the one-of-a-kind masterpieces they are today in this CBS News clip.