Fallen Books

Fallen Books, a project by Melissa Dubbin and Aaron S Davidson, brings together images of toppled books housed in seismically active libraries.

The organizing principle of this publication by onestar press is the correspondence between photographic documentation of the effects of earthquakes upon libraries, and the Modified Mercalli Scale, a color spectrum used as an alternative to the Richter Scale in mapping the seismic intensity of an individual quake; the ‘hotter’ the color, the greater the disturbance.  All of the ‘amateur’ photographs have been culled from American libraries coping with varying degrees of damage.
Tim Maul writes “Dubbin and Davidson’s
Fallen Books lineage stems directly from Ruscha’s important publications. Both Royal and FB rigorously apply an organizational methodology to a natural, or whimsically contrived event(s), collecting data and keeping to the game plan. Fallen Books cheerful exterior belies it content, a complex exercise in entropy, the coexistence of past and future bound (literally) into the present. The rationale behind the Modified Mercalli Scale buckles under the weight of the Smithson-like ‘heaps of language’ on each opposite page.”

The noun ‘fallen’ indicates a certain loss, in the context of the seismically active libraries a loss of order. Perhaps this ‘loss’ can also evoke a sense of freedom, freedom from a specific knowledge organisation system, perhaps it can trigger a laughter just as Borges’s passage quoting a certain Chinese encyclopaedia provoked a laughter in Foucault, “a laughter that shattered all the familiar landmarks of my thought – our thought, the thought that bears the stamp of our age and our geography – breaking up all the ordered surfaces and all the planes with which we are accustomed to tame the wild profusion of existing things, and continuing long afterwards to disturb and threaten with collapse our age old distinction between the Same and the Other.” (2002:xvi) Perhaps this ‘loss’ can lead to a different approach as to how to classify things, or to a different approach as to what an order might be? Perhaps it can lead to a new thought?  ”Discontinuity – the fact that within the space of a view years a culture sometimes ceases to think as it had been thinking up to then and begins to think other things in a new way – probably begins with an erosion from the outside, from that space which is, for thought, on the other side, …” (2002:56)

Foucault, Michel; The order of things: an archaeology of the human sciences; Routledge, 2002

01/12/2009 at 10:29 am