A selection of recent photographed book sculptures by Cara Barer.
A statement from Cara Barer about these works:
I transform books into art by sculpting them, dyeing them and then through the medium of photography presenting them anew as objects of beauty. I create a record of that book and its half-life.
Books, physical objects and repositories of information, are being displaced by zeros and ones in a digital universe with no physicality. Through my art, I document this and raise questions about the fragile and ephemeral nature of books and their future.
I arrive at some of my images by chance and others through experimentation. Without these two elements, my work would not flow easily from one idea to the next. A random encounter on Drew Street with a Houston Yellow Pages was the primary inspiration for me. After that chance meeting, I began to search for more books, and more ways to recreate them.
I realized I owned many books that were no longer of use to me, or for that matter, anyone else. Would I ever need a “Windows 95 Manual”? After soaking it in the bathtub for a few hours, it had a new shape and purpose. Half-Price Books became a regular haunt, and an abandoned house yielded a set of outdated reference books, complete with mold and neglect. Each book tells me how to begin according to its size, type of paper and sometimes contents.
As I begin the process, I first consider the contents of each volume. I only spent a few seconds on the “Windows 95 Manual”. The “New Century Dictionary of the English Language,” was a treasure. Its fascinating illustrations and archaic examples saved it from taking on a new form.
This transformation and photographic documentation led to thoughts on obsolescence and the relevance of libraries in this century. Half a century ago, students researched at home with the family set of encyclopedias, or took a trip to the library to locate information. Now, with computers, tablets and/or smartphones, an Internet connection and cloud storage, a student has the ability to amass knowledge and complete a research paper without ever going near a library. I have fully embraced all this technology, and would not want to be without it, but fear the loss of the beautiful record of books common over the last two centuries.