About this project
INITIAL GOAL ACHIEVED, New Goal of $3000
Any piece of art is defined not by the person creating it, but by the individual observing, interpreting, and interacting with it. The Library of Babel, a Burning Man 2014 honorarium installation being build at The Generator, is a project whose boundaries have intentionally been left open to ensure that it is not a static concept that separates those who create and observe: everyone involved in building, at Burning Man, and within our greater community will by default share the role of artist and observer. Inspired by Borges' short story, The Library of Babel is about a universe which is an indefinite, perhaps infinite library which contains every possible book, within which are "all the possible combinations of the twenty odd orthographic symbols." Our intention is to interpret and expand Borges’ ideas by building a real library, and asking participants to become the librarians. The theme of this project is simple: that we are unlimited in thought and creativity. Our ability to express ideas begins with words, but diverges into many realms of nonverbal language. The Library asks participants where this distinction lies. Upon entering the space, one will feel compelled to address this enigmatic question. Whether reading what others have written, composing one’s own stories, sketching an idea, or simply admiring the mood and discussing its values with a friend or stranger, this Library will inspire one to explore the range and limits of language. It is an endeavor continually progressing through the interactions of those people who use the space through writing, drawing, and reading the books. It will define a unique narrative of the playa; indeed, it has no individual owner or author, but rather a more universal presence whose uncountable layers are defined by an intangible, inexpressible evolution.
All we need now is some additional money to transport the project to playa and light the entire piece. Everything else (lumber, paint, metal, fabric) we've been able to fund through our grants!
Our library will have three unique components: the exterior, the interior, and the books themselves, each distinctly beautiful yet complimentary.
The initial draw to the library will be its distinctive exterior presence. The exterior, inspired by The Dome of the Rock, one of the oldest examples of Islamic architecture still with us today. The Library will illuminate the playa with the elegant symmetries and colors of ancient Girih tile patterns, recreating the ancient artistic and mathematical genius of our predecessors. The base hexagon will be 16 feet, on top of which will be another 12 foot hexagon, completed by a 24 foot diameter dome on top covered in custom cut fabric, which will represent a continuation of the pattern designs screen printed on the wood structure below. Distinct and beautiful, this piece will function of as the Library, the central location of exchange of knowledge, in this Caravansary.
In the above figure we see a concept profile for the exterior frame.
Screen Printing & Aesthetic
The majesty and beauty of many of the ancient Islamic structures comes not just from their simple elegant structure, but the elaborate tile work and color. We are going to emulate this, by specifically taking our inspiration from the Girih tile patterns, an amazing feat of mathematical and artistic genius developed around 1200. The methods of reproducing these quasicrystaline patterns were only understood by western scholars beginning in 2007 via the research of Peter Lu, a physicist at Harvard. In incorporating the symmetries of the 5 girih tiles into our project, we will be creating a true testament to one of the great ancient achievements in the synthesis of mathematical comprehension and aesthetic. This poses a problem for us, as we don't have the materials, time, and ability to complete an exterior with actual tiles.
Our solution is print. To make this happen we have developed a custom screen printing process for the size and quantity necessary in our project, which will include at least 3 colors and 96 4' x 8' sheets of plywood.
Our interior will function as a shelter from the harsh conditions of the desert, as it will be completely a fully covered and shaded structure. More importantly, it will serve as a space to discover, synthesize, and display ideas through writing, painting, and other mediums of expression. The walls will be fit with a parametric wood design cut from a CNC, and will both surround the traveler in a unique display while likewise function as bookshelves for our custom books. We will likewise incorporate mirrors made of mylar, to produce the infinite nature of the library as described in Borges' story. The furniture design will be a continuation of the surrounding walls, and will host the wanderers and allow them to sit and ponder the surrounding universe. We intend to light the interior with 4000 feet of high quality LEDs custom programmed to compliment the form of this space.
Our books are a unique artistic creation in themselves. They are entirely produced from recycled materials: we blend used paper and leaves into unique pulp, and bind them with cardboard covers and sewn fabric donated to the project. Not only are the books unique, but each book is unique from the next in terms of size and materials used. Indeed every page in every book is unique, with a heterogeneous texture that reflects the overall scope of the piece. We will provide pens with nibs, markers, paint, ink, and every medium worthy of expression we think of so that every individual interacting with the piece has a unique ability to express himself or herself, functioning not just as an observer but an artist as integral to the piece. Our crew is providing this canvas.
Our project has already received a substantial grant from Burning Man, but this is not comprehensive in what it provides. The space has been donated by the Generator, as we are currently the second largest project coming out of it in 2014. All work put into this is entirely volunteer based. We are not contracting any paid employees. Therefore, the $3,000 we ask for will be entirely put towards materials: 350 additional sheets of 1/2" plywood, dozens of par cans, flood lights, wiring, generator rentals, fuel, hardware, paint, fabric for the dome, gas, and truck rentals. This is a gigantic piece, and this is relatively little to ask for in comparison with other projects of the same physical size.
Risks and challenges
As with any Burning Man project and a dedicated crew, the biggest challenges are material. We therefore anticipate that if we are able to meet the fundraising goal, of both this Kickstarter but more importantly in the scope of the greater project, our vision will be physically realized.
With our grants we have and will be able to purchase enough lumber, screws, and bolts for the entire exterior wooden frame, the conduit for the geodesic dome and the 1500 square feet of fabric to cover it (3 distinct layers), the supplies necessary to screen print the entire exterior, miscellaneous materials to make the books, and the transportation costs of both truck rentals and gasoline. While these are the bare essentials to make this happen, there are additional expenses that will not only allow our structure to function, but to truly become the unique space we envision it.
Your donations will allow us to purchase the 300 additional sheets of ½” plywood to create the parametric interior and furniture along with the hardware to connect it. Additionally, we will be able to light the structure with thousands of LEDs that will be custom programmed and coating the parametric panels along the walls.
Please realize that your contribution will make this idea come to life. Our space is being donated by The Generator, and through this space we are confident in not just our crew, but the greater community's commitment to making this happen. By donating you are providing a canvas for thousands to use.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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