To The Power of Three - Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here
So I have been threatening to tell you more about this piece for months, and not done it yet. Now that it has finally been posted off, and is actually in an exhibition until 17th March, I thought I had better explain myself. The Al-Mutanabbi Street Coalition, set up by US poet and bookseller Beau Beausoleil, sent out an international call for artists' books over a year ago, asking each artist to produce a series of three books, or three copies of the same, that would reflect the strength and fragility of books as artifacts, and above all the endurance of the ideas within them.
To The Power of Three started out as an exercise or personal performance, which consisted of repetitively copying out lists of Google search results by hand into an old style school exercise book. The first search was through Google Web, the second Google Books, the third Google Scholar; the results restricted to just three web pages in length. The search term used is the same for each search; 'Al-Mutanabbi Street'.
The process of making was also a process of learning by repetition through Google search results, copying them in order to better retain the information and discover what happened to links and the information contained within them when taken away from their web of endless connections. The next stage in the making of the work was another form of copying; photocopies of an exercise, documentation of a document. Withdrawing the original from the work further removes the information's usefulness and readability, rendering the document an ephemeral reproduction or an imperfect copy.
These gatherings of documents provide a snapshot into a particular moment of time, a time where we are well within the 'information age', where we now believe we have the potential of access to all information collected on the WWW. The internet dominates how most people get their information, how they communicate with each other and how they access the most up to date news stories. There is a sea of endless articles, web pages and documents with links to more information and links from those, but how much can you really find out about something when you try to?
This bookwork is an edited, uncomprehensive, and effectively unusable list of hyper-link opportunities; a frustrating document that captures non-information (if there is such a thing) in a rote school fashion. The exercise book as document, but a document to what? Al-Mutanabbi Street as a name, as a search term, as a group of words, as information, or even as non-information?exhibition of the books that have so far been completed for the project. This exhibition is in Westminster Reference Library until 17th March. You can see a web gallery of all the books so far online here, and here; and the page for mine is here.