vinyl letters, 500 sites
Index is a large-scale temporary installation that examines the library’s role as an index to the world outside, focusing on the devise of the call number. The world outside the library is marked in the language of the library: vinyl call numbers are distributed everywhere, stuck onto buildings, automobiles, trees, objects, even people (clothing) throughout the campus, and even into the town of Middletown. The call numbers refer to specific books in the Wesleyan library collection that in some way refer to the site to which they are affixed. A passerby could literally take note of the call number, check the book on the on-line catalog system, and find the book, which would inform them about the site.
About The Library Project
The Library Project is an installation of artworks that explore the nature of the library–its vastness, its proliferation, and the peculiarities of its organization. While the Wesleyan Library is its specific subject and site, the project refers by implication to any and all libraries.
The Library Project began in the Fall of 2001 as a credited, three-student tutorial with James Jacobus ’03, Myra Rasmussen ’04, and Aki Sasamoto ’04 under the auspices of the Christian Johnson Foundation. Later, Wolasi Konu ’04 joined the project as graphic designer. During the semester we worked as a research and development team–researching some of the operations of the library (acquisitions, cataloging, etc), reading relevant texts (Borges, The Library of Babel; Barthes, The Plates of the Encyclopedie; Spoerri, An Anecdoted Topography of Chance), and experimenting with and modeling ideas for works of art about the library. By the end of the semester, we had general plans for an exhibition to consist of several distinct but related works of art in response to the library. For the next year and a half, in fits and starts, we made the works.
We focused our project on the library’s burgeoning scope, and how its profusion of representations organize information and bodies of knowledge. We were particularly interested in the library’s liberal inclusiveness and decisive selectivity, which occludes from sight all that it excludes; the organizational pathways of the Library of Congress classification system which inevitably obscure other possible routes of inquiry; and the general proximities of knowledge–the ways in which areas of knowledge interconnect or self-isolate, whether by accident or design. Ultimately, we were concerned with how the library indexes the world of experience outside of the library. Because the library is now so large and complex a universe unto itself, and so influential on our perception and thought, there appears to be a reversal at work – the world now becomes an index to the library.