Code, Craft & Catalogues: Arts in the Libraries: 2019

On March 9, 2019, I partnered with the Metropolitan New York Library Council and the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York to host a half-day symposium on arts in the libraries. [Photos by Aidan Grant + Neta Bomani]:

What role do the arts and design play in today’s libraries? Our major public institutions frequently commission high-profile public art, some libraries feature dedicated exhibition space, and artists and designers have long drawn inspiration from archival and library collections. Yet today, as we access and create knowledge through an expanding array of designed platforms and interfaces, infrastructures and algorithms, aesthetic operations are integral to the core services that libraries provide. We see a growing number of library- and archive-based artists’ residencies and exhibitions, and expanding interest in more sustained collaborations across the library and art worlds. In this symposium we gather librarians, artists, designers, and representatives from allied fields to examine recent examples of library-centered creative practice, discuss the mutual benefits of such collaborations, and propose new models for growing and sustaining these partnerships.

Live-documentation provided by Neta Bomani & Cybernetics Library.

Presenters included: Greta Byrum, Toisha Tucker, Salome Asega, Anni Vartola, Laura Norris, Jussi Parikka, Ilari Laamanen, Trent MillerJer ThorpBurak Arikan, Kameelah Janan Rasheed

Event program



Design by Johanna Lundberg:


Archived: Bookshelves to Big Data: Archaeologies of Knowledge

Graduate elective

“There has been more information produced in the last 30 years than during the previous 5000.”

We’ve all heard some variation on this maxim. As we find ourselves wading through a billion websites; as publishers supply over two million books to the world’s libraries each year; as we continue to add new media – from apps to geo-tagged maps – to our everyday media repertoires, we continually search for new ways to navigate this ever more treacherous sea of information. Meanwhile, our analog audio-visual archives are deteriorating, and our ever-volatile digital media and data sets present their own preservation challenges. Throughout human history we have relied on various institutions and politico-intellectual architectures to organize, index, preserve, make sense of, and facilitate or control access to our stores of knowledge, our assemblages of media, our collections of information. This seminar looks at the past, present, and future of our archives, libraries, and data repositories, and considers what logics, politics, audiences, contents, aesthetics, physical forms, etc., define them. We will examine what roles these collections play in a variety of contexts: in democracy, in education, in socio-cultural heritage, in everyday life, and in art. Throughout the semester we’ll examine myriad analog and digital artworks that make use of archival/library material, or take the archive, library, or data repository as their subject. Some classes will involve field trips and guest speakers. Students will have the option of completing a substantial traditional research project, or a research-based, theoretically-informed creative/production project for the class.

Fall 2016 Website
See also Archives, Libraries & Databases (previous version of the course: 2011-2014)


Otlet, Bush + Proto-Databases


Today in my Archives, Libraries + Databases grad seminar we’re starting our database unit. I’ve got lots of great material to share, and it’s proving somewhat difficult to keep track of all the videos, images, etc., in my lesson plan — so I figured I’d just dump everything into a blog post. It’ll keep me more organized and it’ll allow others to have access to this material, too.


Reanimating Interference: Our Visits to the Reanimation Library + Interference Archives

@ the Interference Archives
@ the Interference Archives

This past Sunday my Archives, Libraries + Databases class (along with a bunch of their friends and a few other students from our graduate program) visited the Reanimation Library and Interference Archives in Gowanus, Brooklyn. We’ve visited Andrew at the R.L. for each of the past three years I’ve taught this course, but this year I decided to make a “Gowanus Radical Collections” tour of the afternoon, so we added the I.A. to our itinerary …And, to round out the afternoon, we managed to squeeze in a final stop at Four & Twenty Blackbirds for a slice of pie.