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Do Borges' Librarians Have Bodies?"

Sun, May 29, 9:45 to 11:15am, TBA


In 1982, Bill Viola posed an enigmatic question: Will there be condominiums in Data Space? Borges' Library of Babel perhaps provides an anachronistic answer to Viola's still unresolved riddle, as the Argentine's famous short story gives a detailed architectonic description of that prophetic infinite archive. And yet Borges' story is equally concerned with the lives, trials, and vindications of the librarians who inhabit "the Universe, which others call the Library." Borges, as is well know, has been invented many times over as the precursor to cyberspace. Little has been made, however, of the librarians who inhabit Borges' proto-data space. They very rarely appear, for instance, in the many and varied attempts to visualize the Library of Babel in digital media. From multimedia installations at Latin American book festivals to Jonathan Basile's , it would seem that Borges' librarians themselves are absolutely incorporeal. I read Viola's essay with and against a history of attempts to represent Borges' story as a digital project. By tracing the material and digital texualities of a particularly viral topic of visualization, the essay will follow Borges and Viola as guides to navigating the impulse to transmute the entire human experience into information.


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