Photos courtesy of Alexis Arnold
Whether it's the steady decline of bookstores or the countless boxes of used books languishing on yard sale tables, evidence of the descent of the printed book is everywhere. While the information found in books lives on in a digital realm, the physical presence of books is becoming increasingly obsolete.
Inspired by this uncertain future, San Francisco-based artist Alexis Arnold decided to explore other ways of preserving their material legacy in her series "Crystallized Books."
By petrifying books, magazines and other literature in borax crystals and rendering them unreadable, Arnold grants them an oddly beautiful (albeit functionally limited) form of immortality.
"The crystals remove the text and transform the books into aesthetic, non-functional objects," Arnold writes on her website. "The books, frozen with crystal growth, have become artifacts or geologic specimens imbued with the history of time, use and nostalgia."
To create these crystals, Arnold relies on a simple DIY science experiment that you might remember from middle school. By soaking a book in a concentrated solution of borax and boiling water and setting it aside to cool, it isn't long before the borax residue begins to form crystals that encrust the pages.
It creates a remarkable sight:
San Francisco phonebook
Guia de Vinos Gourmet
"Catcher in the Rye"
1978 World Book Encyclopedia
"This is Water"
"The Art of Peace"
"Hop On Pop"
"All's Well That Ends Well"
"Art in Technological Times"
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