A frozen moment in the life of the internet: a data scrape installation. Print Wikipedia: from Aachen to Zylinderdruckpresse is a time-slice of the world’s most celebrated open source accumulation of human knowledge. Capturing this shifting digital object through a download, transformation and upload performance – an act akin to photography – New York based artist Michael Mandiberg then develops its image in print. Through this process of re-presentation the project stages the asymmetric scale of our relationship to big data, while questioning how storage modes condition various utilities of the archive in the 21st century.
Mandiberg has written software that parses the entirety of the Wikipedia database in order to programmatically lay out thousands of book-format volumes, complete with covers. These volumes are then uploaded for print-on-demand. While the download gesture makes the entirety of German Wikipedia available simultaneously, the upload highlights the lag between lived and digital time dimensions. Once it is complete, the set of volumes are already out of date – testament to the impossibility of rendering Wikipedia as a material object in fixed form.
The exhibition consists of the upload ‘performance’ of the 3406 volumes that constitute the German version of Print Wikipedia (today) to Lulu.com for print-on-demand, and the installation of selected volumes, including the Wikipedia Contributor Appendix, at Import Projects. The upload will take roughly 14 days, during which time this operation will be on continuous view. During this period, the gallery will remain open, reflecting the continuous work of the program. There will be two channels broadcasting this process: a projection of the Lulu.com site in a web browser, and a computer monitor with command line updates showing the dialogue between the code and the site. The script will also post to Twitter at @PrintWikipedia when each volume is finished. Selected volumes will be shelved against schematic wallpaper showing the scale of the full set of volumes, from from Aachen to Zylinderdruckpresse.
Project Supported by Wikimedia Foundation, Lulu.com, Wikimedia Deutschland, Denny Gallery, The Banff Centre, Eyebeam, and CUNY