Print Wikipedia is a both a utilitarian visualization of the largest accumulation of human knowledge and a poetic gesture towards the challenges of knowing in an episteme of big data.
I wrote software that transforms the entirety of the English-language Wikipedia database into 7,473 volumes of 700 pages each, complete with covers, and then uploads them for print-on-demand. Built on what is likely the largest appropriation ever made, it is also a work of found poetry that draws attention to the sheer size of the encyclopedia’s content and the impossibility of rendering Wikipedia as a material object in fixed form: once a volume is printed it is already out of date. The work is also a reflection on the actual transparency or completeness of knowledge containers and history.
This artwork was launched and first exhibited at Denny Gallery in New York City from June 18 – July 11, 2015. The exhibition, From Aaaaa! to ZZZap!, presented a live projected video which displayed a performance of the upload of Print Wikipedia to Lulu.com (a print-on-demand website), and the exhibition of a selection of volumes from the project. I made custom wallpaper that represented floor-to-ceiling bookshelves full of volumes. The upload process lasted 24 days, 3 hours, and 18 minutes and was on continuous view, with the gallery open 24 hours to the public in during the first weekend. Each time a volume was completely uploaded, the script posted to Twitter @PrintWikipedia.
Print Wikipedia is complimented by a 91 volume Wikipedia Table of Contents and 36 volume Wikipedia Contributor Appendix which lists the names of the 7.5 million Wikipedia users who have made at least a single edit to the website.