A labyrinth of books

I don’t usually like to reblog, but this is too cool not to. From Colossal:

The cavalcade of art projects surrounding the 2012 Summer Olympics in London continues today with the completion of this enormous book maze designed and built by Brazilian artists Marcos Saboya and Gualter Pupo (and over fifty volunteers) at Southbank Centre. Entitled aMAZEme, the stacked and twisting labyrinth based on a fingerprint belonging to writer Jorge Luis Borges was built using 250,000 remaindered, used and new books, most of which are on loan from Oxfam and will be returned after the exhibit. The piece covers over 500 square metres, with sections standing up to 2.5 metres high and will be on display in the Clore Ballroom through August 25th. Watch the time-lapse video above to see the entire project come together, the volunteers worked through the night for five days to finish in time.

Be sure to visit Colossal to see photos of the labyrinth. It does give new meaning to the phrase “lost in a good book.”

About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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11 Responses to A labyrinth of books

  1. Klausbernd says:

    As I don`t find your like-it-button I have to write it 😉
    We were just talking about the order of books too on my blog and another expat, Pit from Texas, told me about your link to Colossal. Thanks!
    I was wondering why they didn`t arrange those books in a labyrinth of petagramms. Didn`t Borges chose this design for his fictional library of Babel?

    Actually I am an expat too living in North Norfolk for 30 odd years.

    Greetings from the sunny coast of Norfolk
    Klausbernd 🙂

  2. Paulo says:

    I was not completely sold on the idea until … “based on a fingerprint belonging to writer Jorge Luis Borges”.
    That is, to me, the key to this whole endeavor and it makes me want to book a flight right now.

    Klausbernd, Borges’ library was a bit more complex: it was “thought to be” infinite (natürlich 🙂 ) and it was a series (if you can apply “series” to infinity) of hexagonal rooms interconnected by corridors. I have yet to find a good visual representation of it.

    I think that because any attempt to represent the library in Borges’ story would inevitably fall short, they went with what seemed to be the next best thing but is, in fact, the ideal homage, a wonderful tribute to the writer, to the story, and to books and libraries.

    Now I will be waiting for someone’s idea of how to enact the “Babylon Lottery”.

  3. oregon expat says:

    Well, I just learned a few things! Thank you both for deepening my appreciation of this maze. (And for sending me to Wikipedia to look up a few things.)

    Also, Klausbernd, I didn’t think Norfolk was ever sunny?

  4. Ana_ñ says:

    Oh, I’m late for this post about one of my favorite writers!

    Cool, indeed! Thanks for sharing.

    Although of great importance, The Library of Babel is not the only reference in this project, as labyrinths and libraries abound in the work of Borges, a librarian himself.

    Also, I think London is very appropriate for this exhibition, given his deep knowledge of English literature, or better of all literature. But now I’m remembering Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius , which begins with an apocryphal volume of the Encyclopædia Britannica.

    Paulo, I don’t know either how to enact The Lottery in Babylon … or maybe yes, simply, the present world as it is. 🙂

    Speaking of representations, perhaps, Oregon Expat would appreciate the irony of the little piece Del rigor en la ciencia. I found this translation:

    On Exactitude in Science. . . In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it. The following Generations, who were not so fond of the Study of Cartography as their Forebears had been, saw that that vast Map was Useless, and not without some Pitilessness was it, that they delivered it up to the Inclemencies of Sun and Winters. In the Deserts of the West, still today, there are Tattered Ruins of that Map, inhabited by Animals and Beggars; in all the Land there is no other Relic of the Disciplines of Geography.

    Suarez Miranda,Viajes de varones prudentes, Libro IV,Cap. XLV, Lerida, 1658
    From Jorge Luis Borges, Collected Fictions, Translated by Andrew Hurley Copyright Penguin 1999.

    • Paulo says:

      Hi Ana, so nice to see another Borgesian here in the blog.

      You’re absolutely right of course, on the two counts: the labyrinth (I don’t know how I managed not to reference it. I think a tiger distracted me) and the Lottery as our world. Yes. And I love the way you linked it to Tlön (one of my many favorites) and from there to Del rigor en la ciencia and its irrefutable Cartography (to use a Borgesian adjective).

      The beginning sentences of the Lottery are… just…

      Like all men in Babylon I have been a proconsul; like all, a slave; I have also known omnipotence, opprobrium, jail. Look: the index finger of my right hand is missing. Look again: through this rent in my cape you can see a ruddy tattoo on my belly. It is the second symbol, Beth. This letter, on nights of full moon, gives me power over men whose mark is Ghimel; but it also subordinates me to those marked Aleph, who on moonless nights owe obedience to those marked Ghimel […]

      This made me pick up my “Obras Completas” of J.L.B from the shelf. It’s been a couple of years, at least. Let me find out who I am now, and remember the one I was 30 years ago when I started reading them, and throughout the years, as I changed and those works magically changed as well.
      Thank you.

      • Ana_ñ says:

        Hi, Paulo. One of the innumerable advantages of the blog is that, in one way or another, you find always kindred spirits here. 🙂
        […] but it also subordinates me to those marked Aleph […] Didn’t that make you feel like rereading The Aleph? 🙂
        Thank you for all your interesting comments.

        • Paulo says:

          Likewise, always.

          You said “innumerable”. Didn’t that make you feel like rereading El Jardin De Senderos Que Se Bifurcan ?

          Time forks perpetually toward innumerable futures. In one of them I am your enemy.

          Your turn. I think I’m going to like this game. 🙂

          • Ana_ñ says:

            Be careful, dear Paulo, because in that particular terrible future I will be El enemigo generoso to you. :D)
            I searched for you an English translation of this poem contained in La Historia universal de la infamia and — Oh, Borgesian irony — I learned by chance that the “The Generous Enemy” was translated in some version as “The Generous Friend” 🙂

          • Paulo says:

            I think he would have loved to know that.

            And I read almost all my Borges in Portuguese, and the poetry in Castellano, so let’s forget about those treacherous anglo-translations.

            As a side note, there seems to be a very interesting story he wrote that I could never find anywhere. I think it has something to do with Cervantes, the Quijote and some French guy. So, inadvertently or not, I decided to write that story myself, word for word. To make my endeavor less destined for failure, I decided to only write in unanimous nights…

          • Paulo says:

            Bring it on, Muirchertach. 🙂

          • Ana_ñ says:

            Oh, yes, it is unanimously considered that Pierre Menard’s Quixote is more subtle and vivid in style than Cervantes’. Don’t you think? 🙂
            Regarding my unanimous nights, I prefer dedicate them to dream a man, although I admit I haven’t managed to impose him on reality yet, perhaps due to the fact that, although our house could use some improvements, it is not a ruin, circular or otherwise.

            Speaking of Portuguese, and given that we are playing in Oregon Expat’s backyard, let us remember the post entitled the Day of Restauration with, Los Borges, a poem about his own Portuguese lineage, including Dom Sebastião as “The king they are in mystic desert place, Once lost; they’re one who swears he has not died ”.

            But I like prose better. So, like all men in Babylon, you have been a proconsul, Paulo. For my part, I was a tribune of a legion near the Red Sea in the time of the emperor Diocletian…

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