Two objects that have punctuated key moments in the history of Western modernity have undergone a process of radical transformation since the advent of the digital: books and photographs. Max Steven Grossman’s Bookscapes question these transformations. Printed large enough to pass as an actual library, these images point to the gradual loss of paper books, specially those that inhabited homes and fostered learning, dreaming, escapes. These surface only libraries are now commodities of the art world, that can be purchased according to themes -art, film, music, fashion- and literally reproduce both the classic cataloguing systems of libraries, as well as the fantasies and desires of their owners.
Yet these images are composites, collages in Grossman’s own words. The books in every image have never quite been placed in that way except in the virtual space of his computer. Grossman photographs some of the books in bookstores he visits, others he finds floating in the sea of Internet images. He builds collections, and then chooses from his own image banks. When looked at from a close distance, you can see that each book spine has a distinct image quality, revealing their different provenance, their composite or collage character. Grossman returns time and again to these bookscapes to not only reflect on the changing nature of books and photographs in the present times but to also insist on the dreamlike potential of books. Books that keep hidden within their covers, secrets that can only be revealed if you enter them, dive into the pages, allow for the physical world to be taken over by the virtual world offered.