Brian Dettmer carefully selects and sifts through stacks of old books to uncover the perfect source and subject for his cultural archaeological explorations and sculptural possibilities. He first determines the presentation, engineering and construction of his altered book or books. Then, with the precision of a surgeon, using scalpels and hundreds of x-acto blades, he alters the pre-existing information and images by selectively removing and manipulating elements to propose new ideas and map new visual journeys.
Dettmer is originally from Chicago, where he studied at Columbia College. He currently lives and works in Atlanta, GA. His works have been exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the United States, Mexico and Europe. He has had solo shows in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Miami, Atlanta and Barcelona, and has exhibited in Mexico City, Berlin and London.
Dettmer's work has gained International acclaim through internet bloggers and traditional media. His bibliography includes The New York Times, The Guardian, Chicago Tribune, Art News, Modern Painters, Wired, The Village Voice, Harper's, Time Out, The San Francisco Chronicle, and National Public Radio among others.
"The age of information in physical form is waning. As intangible routes thrive with quicker fluidity, material and history are being lost, slipping and eroding into the ether. Newer media swiftly flips forms, unrestricted by the weight of material and the responsibility of history. In the tangible world we are left with a frozen material but in the intangible world we may be left with nothing. History is lost as formats change from physical stability to digital distress.
"In this work I begin with an existing book and seal its edges, creating an enclosed vessel full of unearthed potential. I cut into the surface of the book and dissect through it from the front. I work with knives, tweezers and surgical tools to carve one page at a time, exposing each layer while cutting around ideas and images of interest. Nothing inside the books is relocated or implanted, only removed. Images and ideas are revealed to expose alternate histories and memories. My work is a collaboration with the existing material and its past creators and the completed pieces expose new relationships of the book's internal elements exactly where they have been since their original conception."