American photographer Cara Barer is renowned for her unique approach to creating abstract imagery using recycled books. In her latest series, Origins, Barer contemplates the nature of books as organic objects in flux.

Each book is manipulated beyond recognition using various techniques: the pages are curled into sculptural effect and the flat edges are dyed in vibrant hues. The resulting abstract images reference objects in nature through subtle allusions to imagery of flowers in bloom and butterflies in flight. Barer’s dynamic compositions invite the viewer to consider the evolution of each book in its transformation and the ephemerality of all objects whether organic or man-made.

By photographing each object as the last step in her creative intervention, Barer affords a second life to the cast-off books and paper she re-reinterprets in her work. Fanciful and symbolic, Barer’s photographs allude to the status of the book in the contemporary digital ago.

“Half a century ago, students researched at home with the family set of encyclopaedias, or took a trip to the library to locate information. Now, with computers, tablets and/or smartphones, an Internet connection and cloud storage, a student has the ability to amass knowledge and complete a research paper without ever going near a library. I have fully embraced all this technology, and would not want to be without it, but fear the loss of the beautiful record of books common over the last two centuries.”

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