Artist Michael Mandiberg Is Selling a Hard Copy of All 7,473 Volumes of Wikipedia as Art at Denny Gallery

THE DAILY PIC: Michael Mandiberg prints out the entire online encyclopaedia.

 

 

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THE DAILY PIC (#1342): I almost never suggest art purchases, but here’s one for your older, pre-Internet relatives: All 7,473 hard-bound volumes that it takes to contain the printed contents of Wikipedia. The Brooklyn artist Michael Mandiberg has made that possible, and some of the results are on view at Denny Gallery in New York, in what is declared to be “the largest appropriation ever made”.

Mandiberg is in the process of uploading all of Wikipedia’s pages to the print-on-demand site called Lulu.com. He himself has ordered bound copies of the first 100 volumes – it takes 13 tomes to cover just the site’s art-related entries – and you can order all the others for $80 a crack, or about $600,000 for the whole shebang. (I rather wish Mandiberg had the backing of a mega-gallery like Gagosian or Zwirner, since – tree-slaughter aside – I think the project would be better if it let you take in the scale of the entire hard-copy.)

My first thought was to marvel at the sheer size of the Wikipedia enterprise. My second was to realize what a paltry sum of knowledge it represents: I’ve probably owned close to that many books over my lifetime, and a big high school’s library can boast far more.

In the 18th century, Diderot and his encyclopaedists tried to capture and print the entirety of human knowledge. We have more information today, of course, but also a much harder time coming to grips with it. The best we can do is to think about it through art.

For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.


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