The Jardin de la Connaissance is a temporary garden in a forested area. It is built from a large quantity (approximately 40,000) of discarded books that form walls, benches, and carpets. Eight types of edible fungi such as Winecap and Oyster mushrooms are cultivated within the pages of the books. It was designed and erected for the The International Garden Festival in Quebec, Canada, whose theme this year was ‘Paradise’. The architects explain their work:
“Invoking the mythic relation between knowledge and nature, integral to the concept of ‘paradise’, we invite the emotional involvement of the visitor by exposing these fragile and supposedly timeless cultural artifacts to the processes of decomposition.”
The architects of the above piece are in good company. Other artists have envisioned and created similar installations by re-purposing the written word with impressive results, such as the Book Cell (temporarily installed at the Modern Art Center in Lisboa) and Scanner (on display at the Museum of Modern Art in Bologna) by artist Matej Kren. Or on a smaller scale, like these tree planters fashioned from old books.
For myself, book art such as this is appealing on an aesthetic level, but also due to its potential to stimulate conversation on the importance of medium in the discourse of content delivery, and ask the question of what place traditional print and ink books will have in our increasingly digital future.