Intricate Book Sculptures Give a Whole New Meaning to Wordplay

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Stephen Doyle "Hypertexts" Altered Books Wordplay

The beauty of written language is often captured within the pages of a book, though few people would consider a book to be a work of art in and of itself. However, for graphic designer Stephen Doyle, each book offers a unique canvas ripe for visual and textual exploration. Doyle’s Hypertexts—a series of intricately altered book sculptures—allow words to leap beyond the page, creating elaborate structures and forms that give a whole new meaning to the term wordplay.

“I love language—and languages,” Doyle tells My Modern Met. “Cutting up books and reconstructing them is not exactly a rational exercise. The way that text is composed in a book is efficient, but not rational either. Lines of text begin mid-sentence, or wherever the last measure cut off, each line a wonderful slender brick, but meaningless out of context in the structure. Reconfiguring these lines creates arbitrary associations, juxtapositions that confuse or delight… Like concrete poetry, I can use language to visualize form, create puzzles, and if successful, they step up to the job of being koans.”

Doyle was introduced to this manner of wordplay as a child when his babysitter made a game of reading the newspaper horizontally across the columns to produce absurd combinations. Now, his Hypertexts take that game one step further, bringing the text to life in its own three-dimensional realm. Like literal hypertexts, Doyle’s altered book sculptures connect one seemingly random line of text to another, creating novel and unexpected interactions through these arbitrary links. The forms they take are often inspired by the books themselves.

“Some of my friends are horrified that I am destroying books,” Doyle continues. “But I think of them as miniature monuments, testaments to the power of language and metaphors of imagination. I think of them as ideas coming into three-dimensional life—ideas taking physical form that allows them to cast shadows. And for me, casting a shadow is a testament to being real—my conviction that an idea does not just exist in the ether, but makes a noise when it lands on the table!”

Scroll down to see the incredible sculpture of Doyle’s Hypertexts. For more about the artist, you can visit his website and follow him on Instagram.

Stephen Doyle’s Hypertexts—a series of intricate altered book sculptures—gives a whole new meaning to the term wordplay.

Stephen Doyle "Hypertexts" Altered Book Sculptures

“Notes from Underground” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Stephen Doyle "Hypertexts" Altered Books Wordplay

“The Prince and the Discourses” by Niccolo Machiavelli

Stephen Doyle "Hypertexts" Altered Book Sculptures

“The Invisible Man” by HG Wells

Stephen Doyle "Hypertexts" Altered Book Sculptures

“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” By John le Carré

His sculptures connect seemingly random lines of text, creating novel and unexpected interactions through these arbitrary links.

Stephen Doyle "Hypertexts" Altered Book Sculptures

“Here is New York” by E.B. White

Stephen Doyle "Hypertexts" Altered Book Sculptures

“The Door” by Magda Szabó

Stephen Doyle "Hypertexts" Altered Books Wordplay

“Atonement” by Ian McEwan

Stephen Doyle "Hypertexts" Altered Book Sculptures

“Speak Memory” by Vladimir Nabokov

The forms they take are often inspired by the books themselves.

Stephen Doyle "Hypertexts" Altered Books Wordplay

“One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Márquez

Stephen Doyle "Hypertexts" Altered Book Sculptures

“Sound and the Fury” by William Faulkner

Stephen Doyle "Hypertexts" Altered Book Sculptures

“The Waves” by Virginia Woolf

Stephen Doyle "Hypertexts" Altered Books Wordplay

“The Golden Bough” by James George Frazer

Doyle thinks of his book sculptures as “miniature monuments, testaments to the power of language and metaphors of imagination.”

Stephen Doyle "Hypertexts" Altered Book Sculptures

“A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis” by Sigmund Freud

Stephen Doyle "Hypertexts" Altered Books Wordplay

“The Reason Why” by Cecil Woodham-Smith

Stephen Doyle "Hypertexts" Altered Book Sculptures

“Frantemaglia (Fragments)” by Elena Ferrante

Stephen Doyle "Hypertexts" Altered Books Wordplay

“Neotribes” by Steve Silberman

Stephen Doyle: Website | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Stephen Doyle.

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