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Artist Turns Anachronistic Paper Phone Books Into Intricate Sculptures

Phonebooks are a useless relic of the past that have—against all odds—continued to waste space and destroy trees. At least one artist has at least found some beauty in them.

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  • 05 /05 | Phone Book Art

Phonebooks. Who needs them? It’s 2012; we have Google and Siri. And yet, every year, an estimated 5 million trees’ worth of paper is used to produce White Pages that get left, unbidden, on American doorsteps (before ending up in landfills—only 22% are recycled). It’s a profligate waste of resources.

Some cities have begun to take action against this unwarranted intrusion of telephonic information. In May, San Francisco became the first city to say that you needed to request a phone book, if you possibly still want one. But the revolution hasn’t quite swept the nation. Most people still awake a few times a year to find another set of phone books cluttering their stoop.

But until the folks at Ban the Phone Book get their way, we have artists like Kristiina Lahde to turn all that useless paper into something more valuable. For several years, Lahde, a Canadian artist, has been using the books as a sculptural medium.

For her 2009 piece Compilation, Lahde stuck the pages of an open phonebook together to create a sort of fanned honeycomb structure. A later piece, Hive, takes the apian theme further. It consists of several such honeycombed phone books, stacked on top of each other to form a column. Lahde’s work was part of an exhibition called The Birds and the Bees at the Oakville Galleries in Ontario, Canada, last summer.

In other works, Lahde has used envelopes to create delicate paper cut pieces and newspapers to create collages. Apparently near-obsolete paper products pique her creative impulse. For many of us, they just pique our ire.

Slideshow Credits: 01 / Kristiina Lahde; 02 / Kristiina Lahde; 03 / Kristiina Lahde; 04 / Kristiina Lahde; 05 / Kristiina Lahde;