The Encyclopedia Britannica in the Hands of Simryn Gill May 20, 2012 – Tags: Books and Art, Encyclopedia Britannica, Installation, Simryn Gill
A couple of months ago it was announced that after 200+ years the Encyclopedia Britannica would cease publishing a printed edition. The granddaddy of all encyclopedia’s had finally succumbed; becoming the latest casualty of the digital revolution.
So what to do with all those sets of bound knowledge that are strewn across the planet?
How about turning them into a flotilla of paper boats!
In her 2008 installation Paper Boats Australian artist Simryn Gill offered up the 1968 edition of the encyclopedia to the public and invited them to turn its pages into origami boats.
In a review of an exhibit of Paper Boats held at Breenspace in 2009, Souchou Yao says:
The foremost quality of Gill’s project comes across as its rescue mission. The encyclopaedia, each bulky volume a stranded whale on the beach of words, bids us to liberate it from the dead hulking form. We are asked to participate in the labour of this transfiguration. With our fingers, their nimbleness strained by arthritis and the use of the computer keyboard, we turn these printed pages into the playful shapes of origami boats. The final objects are strange, bereft of their former textual glory but with a touch of a new mischievous grandeur.
Now that the “dead hulking form” of the encyclopedia has reached the end of its shelf-life we can only hope similar rescue missions await us.