Books are renowned for building worlds, and sometimes they do so literally. From July 31 to August 26, the Southbank Center in London will play host to “aMAZEme,” a vast labyrinth constructed from 200,000 books. The project, dreamed up by Brazilian artists Marcos Saboya and Gualter Pupo, features 500 square meters worth of winding, 8-foot walls. But the maze’s most unusual aspect might be the shape it takes when seen from a bird’s-eye view: a single, swirling fingerprint.*
With their design, Saboya and Pupo have created a monument to the tactility of books. E-readers may be everywhere, and libraries’ days may be numbered, but the maze won’t let us forget that our narratives used to have physical properties, like heft, smell, and texture. (Someday I imagine I will reminiscence to my grandchildren about the good old days when stories had spines.) With their labyrinth, Saboya and Pupo seem to be arguing that you “get lost” in bound books in a peculiar, irreproducible way.
Saboya and Pupo are not the first to transform reading material into building material. Back in April, Flavorwire rounded up a full “10 Gorgeous Buildings Made Out of Books,” and others have used books to construct Christmas trees, chairs, and even bookshelves.
There’s something nostalgic about book repurposing as an artistic genre. At minimum, it shows us working to keep bound books relevant, albeit in a different form. But are we really doing the printed objects a favor by extending their life in this way?
*The fingerprint, by the way, belongs to one of the artists—not to Jorge Luis Borges, as has been suggested elsewhere, although his famously labyrinthine stories inspired the installation.
TODAY IN SLATE
The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola
The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.
I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.
Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.
Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore
And schools are getting worried.
Global Marches Demand Action on Climate Change
- Protesters Take to the Streets to Sound Alarm on Climate Change in New York, Across the World
- Knife-Carrying White House Jumper is Vet who Feared “Atmosphere Was Collapsing”
- North Korea: American Sentenced to Hard Labor Wanted to Become “Second Snowden”
- Almost One in Four Americans Support Idea of Splitting From the Union
Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem
Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology.