Artist Michael Mandiberg Spent 24 Days Turning Wikipedia into Books
World’s Largest Body of Knowledge is Available as Print-On-Demand Books
In June, artist Michael Mandiberg unveiled Print Wikipedia in the exhibition From Aaaaa! to ZZZap!, which ran a total of 24 days, 3 hours and 18 minutes from June 18 to July 11, at Denny Gallery in New York City. Mandiberg wrote software that transformed the entirety of the English Wikipedia database into thousands of print ready PDFs, complete with covers.
The exhibition at Denny Gallery was the performance of the upload of Print Wikipedia to Lulu.com, the publisher Mandiberg worked with on this project, and included the exhibition of a selection of volumes from the project shelved against wallpaper representing 2000 volumes from the encyclopedia. Individual volumes and collections are available for purchase at http://printwikipedia.lulu.com/. It is important to note that Mandiberg chose to print only 106 volumes for the exhibition; human imagination can take those volumes in combination with the wallpaper and visualize the full scope of the work.
“Print Wikipedia is a both a utilitarian visualization of the largest accumulation of human knowledge and a poetic gesture towards the inhuman scale of big data,” said Mandiberg. “To make an intervention into a book is to critique the ordering systems of the world. If books are a reduced version of the universe, then this is the most expanded version we’ve ever seen.” You can see Mandiberg discuss Print Wikipedia here.
The books are microcosms of the world - amounting to 7,473 volumes of Wikipedia entries, each made up of 700 pages, totaling 5,244,111 pages of text and upon ordering these entries Mandiberg found that several individual entries make up over 150 pages alone. In total, Print Wikipedia contains 11,594,743 entries.
Each volume is titled with the first and last entry. These pairings caused visitors to the gallery and followers of the Print Wikipedia twitter feed to laugh or ponder human existence. Two particularly poetic pairings are Volume 4291: "List of serial killers by country - List of Shakespearean characters L-Z" and Volume 6826, "Timeline of Orthodoxy in America - Timeline of racial tension in Omaha, Nebraska."
The gallery installation also included the Wikipedia Contributor Appendix: a 36 volume index of the almost 7.5 million named contributors that made at least one edit to the entries covered in the project. Many Wikipedia contributors came to see both an artistic representation of something that they love and their names recognized in the appendix. This is thought to be the first time that all the editors names have been compiled and collectively recognized.
"Wikipedia's unprecedented collection of knowledge exists thanks to the global community of contributors who write Wikipedia,” said Luis Villa, Director of Community Engagement at the Wikimedia Foundation. “We are so pleased to see this creative representation of their work and are proud to support this project."
Lulu.com CEO Nigel Lee said: “At Lulu.com, we enable experts from all walks of life to publish their knowledge. Michael’s unique project is just another example of how anyone can tell their story, regardless of word count, and we are thrilled to be a part of Michael’s vision. There may be no greater single body of knowledge than Wikipedia, so we’re the natural solution for Michael and his work.”
About Denny Gallery
Denny Gallery is located at 261 Broome Street in New York City. For further information about Denny Gallery, please contact Elizabeth Denny at 212-226-6537 or by email at email@example.com, or visit www.dennygallery.com.
About the Artist
Michael Mandiberg is an interdisciplinary artist, scholar, and educator living in Brooklyn, New York. He received his M.F.A. from the California Institute of the Arts and his B.A. from Brown University. His work traces the lines of political and symbolic power online, working on the Internet in order to comment on and intercede in the real flows of information. He sold all of his possessions online on Shop Mandiberg, made perfect copies of copies on AfterSherrieLevine.com, and created Firefox plugins that highlight the real environmental costs of a global economy on TheRealCosts.com. He is co-author of Digital Foundations and Collaborative Futures and the editor of The Social Media Reader. A recipient of residencies and commissions from Eyebeam, Rhizome.org, and Turbulence.org, his work has been exhibited at the New Museum, Ars Electronica, ZKM, and Transmediale. A former Senior Fellow at Eyebeam, he is currently Director of the New York Arts Practicum, a co-founder of the Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, Associate Professor at the College of Staten Island/CUNY, and a member of the Doctoral Faculty at the CUNY Graduate Center. His work has previously been exhibited at Denny Gallery in the exhibition Share This! Appropriation After Cynicism. He has also exhibited at Postmasters Gallery, The New Museum for Contemporary Art, the Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Jen Beckman Gallery, Parsons’ Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, and the Eyebeam Art + Technology Center. His work has been written about in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Berliner Zeitung, Wired, the Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, Hyperallergic, ARTNews, MOMUS, Flash Art and Artforum.
About Wikimedia Foundation
The Wikimedia Foundation is the non-profit organization that supports and operates Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Wikipedia consists of more than 34 million articles in 288 languages. Every month, tens of thousands of active volunteers contribute to Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia projects. With nearly half a billion monthly users, projects operated by the Wikimedia Foundation are one of the most popular web properties in the world. Based in San Francisco, California, the Wikimedia Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charity that is funded primarily through donations and grants.
Lulu.com is passionate about creating a remarkable experience for people to tell their stories and celebrate their experiences -- simply -- through words and pictures. Our publishing platform allows authors to publish a book in a few easy steps, while offering unmatched flexibility and control. Since introducing self-publishing in 2002, Lulu.com has empowered creators in more than 225 countries and territories to produce nearly two million publications. For more information, please visit www.lulu.com and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.