Jörg Colberg - Untitled, from Ex Libris Strom, 2010

Jörg Colberg - Untitled, from Ex Libris Strom, 2010

Jörg Colberg - Untitled, from Ex Libris Strom, 2010


Jörg Colberg - Untitled, from Ex Libris Strom, 2010

Jörg Colberg - Untitled, from Ex Libris Strom, 2010

Jörg Colberg - Untitled, from Ex Libris Strom, 2010


Jörg Colberg - Untitled, from Ex Libris Strom, 2010

Jörg Colberg - Untitled, from Ex Libris Strom, 2010

Jörg Colberg - Untitled, from Ex Libris Strom, 2010


Depending on how you look at it, this project involves various acts of vandalism. Near the end of my career in astrophysics, at a time when it had become obvious that I wasn’t interested in the field any longer (it was a mutual sentiment), I noticed large paper recycling bins in the hallway one afternoon. Inside, someone had dumped part of the library: Astronomical journals, bound library-style. Everything was moving towards computers, so a decision had been made to throw out the paper copies (vandalism #1).

I remember getting pretty upset and angry over this decision. The department was not short of space, so there was no real reason to unceremoniously dump large parts of the past. These books, at least to me, were more than merely information. I leafed through some of the books, looking at scientific research published around the time I was born. For a while, I thought about taking some of the books, but concerns about a lack of space in my already crowded apartment prevented me from doing it.

While looking through these old books, I had become fascinated with the illustrations. They were done way before computers were ubiquitous. Even though I understood what most of them meant, beyond their scientific meaning they were beautiful. On a whim, I started tearing out pages with some of the illustrations and diagrams (vandalism #2). To this day, I regret not having taken at least some of the books instead.

I scanned the illustrations and diagrams and removed any information that would make them scientifically useful, anything that would give away the purpose, anything that would explain something (vandalism #3). With often relatively little work, these illustrations and diagrams were transformed into little pieces of art.

Each book had an old-fashioned book plate (“Ex Libris”). Someone had added a name, using a typewriter (“Strom”). This seemed like a good name for this set of images, Ex Libris Strom.