The next time you see a telephone book, look beyond the phone numbers, advertisements, thin pages, and wobbly covers. Philadelphia artist Katie Murken did exactly that when she created Continua, a work that combines recycled phone books, color dye, math, elements of chance, and sculpture.
Gathering scores of old and surplus phone books, Katie stripped off their covers and dipped the 3 outer edges into dye. In total, she dyed approximately 1,560,000 sheets of paper with 24 different colors.
Then she stacked the altered books into columns. However, the colors she used were determined by a customized color wheel and a pair of dice. A dice roll determined how she would stack the books.
The result was 24 tall columns of vibrantly colored, gently wavy books pages, arranged completely by chance. And the color! The color! Katie used non-toxic dyes from a small company in California.
Walking among the stacked pages was incredibly calming, yet energizing. It was also validating. To me, it felt like confirmation of what the knowledge inside books really looks like.
If you’d like to see more images of Continua, or read interviews about Katie and her fascinating process, you will find numerous links on Katie Murken’s site.
Photographs courtesy of Katie Murken