Vintage books transformed into mountain landscapes

Montréal-based artist Guy Laramée is a man of many talents: capable of directing, composing, fabricating instruments, and of course sculpting and painting. However, if you browse through his work, you’ll find that his ongoing series, Bookwork, holds the most passion for him.

If you’re a lover of vintage books, or even someone who prefers the feel of paper as opposed to holding a reader, then you might want to shy away from this. Guy’s newest creation, Desert of Unknowing, features deep caverns and valleys that retreat hundreds of pages down into excavated books.

"V" vintage books by Guy Laramée
“V” (2015) Photo Alain Lefort

From thick stacks of vintage books, such as outdated encyclopedias and obsolete dictionaries, Guy transforms them into beautiful sculptures that include snow-capped mountains and valleys. Using innovative sandblasting techniques, he then paints, inks, and colours the carved books. The resulting topographies are both rooted in realism and straight out of a dream.

Desert of Unknowing

"V" vintage books by Guy Laramée
“V” (2015) Photo Alain Lefort

Guy embarked on his book art journey nearly 20 years ago. Inspired by a long-held belief in the “erosion of culture,” this project is deeply personal to the artist—and, he believes, inherently relatable to everyone.

“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.”

"Irazu" vintage books by Guy Laramée
“Irazu” (2015) Photo Alain Lefort

His works attempt to showcase how increasing knowledge might actually be an erosion rather than accumulation by altering these previous beacons of information. They are now integrated into our digital systems, and the old husks transformed into mountains and valleys.

“Le Début” vintage books by Guy Laramée
“Le Début” (2016) Photo Alain Lefort
“Whale” vintage books by Guy Laramée
“Pilgrims” vintage books by Guy Laramée
“Srautasutra” vintage books by Guy Laramée

You can see more of his sculptural takes on vintage anthologies on his website.