For almost a decade now, San Francisco based artist, Alexis Arnold, has been collecting discarded books and turning them into crystallized, mystifying artifacts. According to Arnold, her Crystallized Book Series was prompted by continuously finding boxes of discarded books and magazines, the onset of e-books, and the recent disappearance of bookstores.
The crystals are grown by her by creating a super-saturated solution of Borax in boiling water. “When water boils, its molecules expand,” she explained the scientific process that goes behind the scenes in an interview with Redefine Magazine. “I place the book in the saturated solution when hot and manipulate the book to my liking. As the saturated water cools again, the molecules shrink and any excess Borax crystallizes. Once the solution has completely cooled and the crystals have grown on the submerged objects, I drain the solution and dry the object without disturbing its shape. The objects will hold their new, transformed shape when completely dry.”
Arnold’s artwork aims to explore the perception and experience of light and color, the visual effects of time, various geologic processes, and the potential of the material. Addressing the theme of “materiality versus content,” her series raises questions about the palpable ways in which time (in it’s physical or visual presence) shapes our cultural experiences.
“The crystals remove the text and transform the books into aesthetic, non-functional objects,” points Arnold. “The books, now frozen with heavy crystal growth, have become artifacts or geologic specimens laden with the history of time, use, and nostalgia. The stories included in books often exist in our memories while the book remains a spine on a shelf. I love how just seeing a book can conjure the story contained within. With the addition of the crystal growth, the story within the book remains in memory, but new stories can be created by viewers as well.”
Enjoy some of her unique creations in the gallery below: