a New Artwork by Richard Wright  in collaboration with the British Library

 From 9th September – 23rd September, 2016

ELASTIC SYSTEM is a database portrait of the librarian Thomas Watts. In 1838 Watts invented his innovative “elastic system” of storage in order to deal with the enormous growth of the British Library’s collections.
This mosaic has been generated from 4,300 books as they are currently stored in the Library basements at St Pancras, an area not normally accessible to the public. Each one is connected live to the library’s electronic requesting system.
The Elastic System functions like a catalogue, allowing people to visually browse part of the British Library’s collections, something which has not been possible since Watts’ time in the mid-19th century. When a book is requested it is removed from the “shelf” to reveal a second image underneath, an image that represents the work that goes on in the library’s underground storage basements, the hidden part of the modern requesting system.
Elastic System encapsulates the many layers of an information ecology that makes up the British Library: visual, data and infrastructural systems in co-operation as a living organism of data.

Friday 9th September

15:00 – 16:45 Foyles Center (directions below)
16:45 – 18:00 Humanities I Reading Room foyer (directions below)
On show from Friday 9th September – Friday 23rd September, 2016, during library opening hours.
The launch is preceded by a Cultural Data discussion including Artists Talk to be held at the British Library in the afternoon. It is sponsored by the AHRC-funded project the Internet of Cultural Things (https://internetofculturalthings.com/) which critically and creatively examines born-digital material and explores ways of opening new forms of cultural data for artistic intervention and public engagement.

Foyles Center, British Library, Friday 9th September (directions below)

· 15.00 – 15.15: Welcome and Introduction: Artistic Methods and Cultural Data
Mark Coté and Jussi Parikka
· 15.15 – 15.45: Cultural Data and the British Library
Mahendra Mahey, Manager of BL Labs and Aquiles Alencar Brayner, Digital Curator
· 16.00 – 16.45: Artists Talk: How to Judge a Book by its Cover
Richard Wright outlines his research behind the Elastic System project.
· 16.45 – 18.00: Launch of Elastic System
The Elastic System is installed in the foyer of Humanities Reading Room I on the 1st floor (directions below)
· 17.00 – 18.00: Drinks and nibbles.
Next to the Humanities Reading Room I, outside the public restaurant.
– 18:00 Library closes


Humanities Reading Room I is on the 1st floor of the British Library, at the back of the building on the left side and next to the public restaurant.
The Foyles Center is in the Conservation Building behind the British Library, accessed from across the terrace behind the staff restaurant on the 1st floor.
The British Library is at 96 Euston Road, London, NW1 2DB.

Episodic Data of Culture

September 14 – 2 to 4 pm – FACT, Liverpool, as part of the Liverpool Biennial public events programme.


“’The Library is unlimited but periodic.” – Borges

What’s the episodic life of data? To think of cultural institutions – from libraries to art institutions – as institutions of data usually comes down to considering how they archive and store data as heritage. The issues of permanence and storage permeate this archival focus on digital culture and data, whereas this panel wants to ask what else can cultural institutions proactively do with data – to create networks, ideas, artistic interventions and public debate about data staged by and in those institutions. This focus encourages to ask other sorts of questions than merely ones about the permanence of data: programming is one such form of “post-history” that arranges episodic times in different rhythms than linear development; temporary nature of institutions demands an awareness how time and data can work hand in hand; what are the non-human episodes and times that are at work in cultural institutions and their (data) infrastructures?

This panel addresses new ideas and artistic practices in the context of cultural institutions, and stems from collaborations as part of the AHRC-funded project Internet of Cultural Things . We will discuss the particular examples and artistic methods Richard Wright took as an “artist in residence” at the British Library, as well as offer analytical and critical perspectives that facilitate a wider discussion about cultural institutions in and of data.

The panel takes place in conjunction with the Software Episode of the Liverpool Biennial at FACT. The presenters and discussants include:

Dr Mark Coté (Kings College, London)

Professor Jussi Parikka (Winchester School of Art)

Richard Wright (Independent artist)

Hannah Redler (Independent curator)


Episodic Data of Culture 

September 14 – 2 to 4 pm – FACT, Liverpool