The same can be said of a lot of altered book art these days. It’s a subcategory dominated by Exacto-blade wizards who treat books as excavation sites, spanning both craft and Conceptualism. What sets Hayes apart is that he makes no attempt to engage with the content of the books he mines for raw material. His goal, it seems, is devising provocative, improbable shapes that deliver more than the eye can discern from any single vantage point. At numerous junctures throughout the show, I found myself shouldering up to the wall to take in alternate views. What I learned is that there are few flat surfaces; these objects, which measure about 19 inches at the longest dimension, are made up mostly of mildly torqued volumes and curving edges, which is not something you can readily sense from across a room. Those observations, in turn, led me to realize that Hayes’ work aligns a lot more closely to mid-20th century modernist sculpture and architecture than to book art, however elastic that category may be.
Still, for all the evasions of meaning effected by Hayes' contortions of unidentified texts, I sense a certain linguistic component, evident in pieces shown in series to encourage “reading.” That we can’t break the “code” to say what, exactly, they mean only adds to their power and allure. Like ancient tablets scratched out by tribes whose languages and alphabets have become extinct, Hayes, with paper and steel, has created a fresh visual language, one deeply rooted in the past, but also utterly unique.