Brain Pickings

Tree of Codes: A Literary Remix

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In our present culture, we’ve come to see the art of remix as a product of digital media. But author Jonathan Safran Foer (of Everything Is Illuminated fame) reminds us of its analog quintessence in his brilliant Tree of Codes (public library) project — a book created by cutting out chunks of text from Foer’s favorite novel, The Street of Crocodiles by Polish author Bruno Schulz, rearranging the text to form an entirely different story. The die-cut narrative hangs in an aura of negative space, adding the necessary touch of designerliness to what’s already a hipster-ready concept.

The result is a beautiful blend of sculpture and storytelling, adding a layer of physicality to the reading experience in a way that completely reshapes your relationship with text and the printed page.

Vanity Fair has an excellent interview with Foer talking about his creative process on this project and contemporary art at large.

I thought: What if you pushed it to the extreme, and created something not old-fashioned or nostalgic but just beautiful? It helps you remember that life can surprise you.” ~ Jonathan Safran Foer

The making of the book is a true marvel of human ingenuity:

Tree of Codes is part Nina Katchadourian’s Sorted Books, part Brian Dettmer’s carved book sculptures, part something else entirely — and wholly recommended.

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