January 25, 2010

The World Book Dictionary L-Z

I recently came across the artwork of Brian Dettmer and was so transfixed by his work, I immediately needed to perform a book autopsy. So I raced over to BMV on my bike and spent about half an hour searching for a dictionary or encyclopedia with lots of illustrations. I finally settled on The World Book Dictionary L-Z for five bucks.
The process itself was very simple: I glued the book shut and peeled away each page one-by-one using an exacto-knife, leaving behind images that I liked. It took about three months for me to finish. I can't tell you how many hours I spent, but I definitely became addicted to the meditative act of lifting a page and discovering what wonders lay beneath.
The result is nothing like Dettmer's much more elaborate recent work. But if you look closely, there is an intriguing complexity to the illustrations. And the text itself is surprisingly poetic. In all my life, I've never read such a poetic dictionary. (And I'm one of those who would go to look something up in my Websters, and two hours later realize I've just read the whole L section).


  1. Absolutely beautiful! I may have to give this a try. Each book would yield such a different result.

  2. I remember seeing this on your coffee table when we were shooting the Mina May vid. Love it.