Adieu Britannica in monument to obsolescence of the encyclopedia
December 30, 2013 | 10:34 am
In a book sculpture more topically significant than most works in the medium, Quebec-based book sculptor Guy Laramée has carved a 24-volume set of the Encyclopedia Britannica into an eroding mountainous landscape to commemorate the end of the printed edition of the reference work after 244 years of publication.
“My work, in 3D as well as in painting, originates from the very idea that ultimate knowledge could very well be an erosion instead of an accumulation,” Laramée explained in his artist’s statement, as shared on the My Modern Met modern arts blog. “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.”
It’s hardly the first essay by Laramée in this vein – his series “The Great Wall,” for instance, presents a series of sometimes rather Chinese-style book landscapes supposedly commemorating a future history where China invades a decadent U.S. But this is definitely one of the most topical relating directly to the future of the book itself.
An added irony is that the work could be then as a monument, intended or otherwise, to the coming obsolescence of Laramée’s own medium. After all, what future for both sculpture if books themselves are becoming increasingly outdated? The medium could end up as irrelevant as the illuminated manuscript or the equestrian portrait. And that in itself is quite a message.