Artist Michael Mandiberg Turns Wikipedia into 7,600 Books for Gallery Show
The 7,600 volumes are up for sale, at $80 a pop.
Have you ever wondered how many books could be filled by a printed out version of Wikipedia? Well, wonder no more, as Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary artist, writer, and educator Michael Mandiberg has done the math, and the answer is 7,600.
An editor of over 2,000 entries on Wikipedia, Mandiberg first thought of Print Wikipedia in 2009, but it wasn’t until three years later that he fully engaged with it.
The project involves formatting, uploading, and eventually printing out the English language version of Wikipedia in its entirety, as a set of encyclopedias.
“I was thinking of books almost as an old, antiquated form in the same way you might think of film photography, and I wanted to think about what that form still had value for,” Mandiberg told artnet News.
The books will be available to buy at publish-on-demand site Lulu.com, for $80 a pop.
“It was certainly a very interesting inquiry,” Dan Dillon, vice president at Lulu.com, told the New York Times. “It’s not every day someone comes to you and says, ‘I’d like to make a printed inventory of the largest storehouse of human knowledge in English, and would like to use your website.’”
The upload of all the compressed data to Lulu.com began yesterday at the opening of “From Aaaaa! To ZZZap!” at Denny Gallery, in New York’s Lower East Side.
Attendees saw the upload broadcast against the gallery wall, and were able to purchase a volume of their choice. Because the project is about 11GB of compressed data, just under what they would need a supercomputer to process, the upload will take two weeks.
“It’s a really concrete example of the kinds of transformations of scale that we’re experiencing in our information work,” Mandiberg explained.
Selected titles, including Entropy and Appropriation—referred to by Mandiberg as “spine poetry”—will be on sale at the gallery for $68.
Mandiberg, associate professor at College of Staten Island/CUNY, is not the only artist to be inspired by the enormity of Wikipedia. In May, the British Library in London unveiled a project by YBA Cornelia Parker that involved celebrities like Jarvis Cocker and Edward Snowden stitching the Wikipedia page for the Magna Carta.
Meanwhile, in March, an Art + Feminism “edit-a-thon” held at MoMA saw 300 female artists get their Wikipedia pages.
“From Aaaaa! to ZZZap!” is on view at Denny Gallery, New York, from June 18-July 2, 2015.
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