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Someone is printing out Wikipedia for art (again)


As the NY Times reports, Brooklyn-based artist Michael Mandiberg is engaged in an ambitious (and some might say ridiculous) project to turn English-language Wikipedia, the largest storehouse of knowledge in the world, into old-fashioned printed volumes. While Mandiberg doesn’t plan to print all of English-language Wikipedia—which would fill 7,600 volumes—he does intend to print a signifiant portion of it, with volumes for sale via print-on-demand website Mandiberg’s exhibition based on the project opens this weekend, June 19 to 21, at Denny Gallery in New York:

The installation at the Denny Gallery may be titled “From Aaaaa! to ZZZap!,” but it takes a while for Mr. Mandiberg’s encyclopedia — the articles are set three columns to a page, mainly using an open-source typeface called Cardo — to get to the letter A.

First comes the 91-volume table of contents listing the nearly 11.5 million articles. Then come more than 500 volumes containing entries beginning with typographical symbols and numbers, starting with “!” (the exclamation point), “!!” (notation for an excellent move in chess) and “!!!” (a dance-punk band from Sacramento whose name is usually pronounced “Chk Chk Chk”).

There is also a 36-volume contributors index, listing each of the nearly 7.5 million named users who have made even a single edit since Wikipedia began in 2001 — a statistic that Mr. Mandiberg may be the first to establish.

While Wikimedia now has an analytics team, tracking the size and growth of Wikipedia “is something we’ve had to go back and do retroactively,” Ms. Maher said. Until recently, “the focus has been on making sure the servers run.”

Any volume of Mr. Mandiberg’s encyclopedia can be ordered from for $80. Select volumes will also be on sale at the gallery for $68, including those containing the entries for resonant terms like “aesthetics,” “appropriation,” “entropy” and “time.”

Image via Denny Gallery



I’m surprised no one has brought up Kenneth Goldsmith’s “Printing Out the Internet.”