Don’t listen to that Tina Turner tape anymore? Turn it into art. That’s what Brian Dettmer did for Second Nature, his first solo exhibit in New York City, on display through January 6, at Art&Idea. Like a mad scientist, he dissects various means of communication and reassembles them into new creations.
Our manmade media come to symbolize us as human beings as Dettmer molds cassette tapes into a skeleton. It’s as if the Prince and Madonna tapes we listened to over and over again in the eighties have literally become a part of our identity, as symbolized by Dettmer’s melting them into the shape of our skull.
Outmoded means of communication aren’t only engrained in our physical selves, though; they’re recycled into our everyday world. Dettmer winds the innards of videotapes together to create a rose bush climbing not a white picket fence but an iron fence.
In his intriguingly titled Altered States series, he cuts up maps of various regions of the United States and puts them back together again to create a collage of sinuous streets and rivers. Serious books of literature become pop-up books, as Dettmer lacerates bound books to display their hidden interiors, suggestive of what you would find if you read through hundreds of pages to get to the good part of the book.
The reconfigured trash-turned-art goes for $500 to $5,400. Maybe that clutter in your apartment isn't so useless after all!