Excerpts from the Library of Babel, an art installation by UW Bothell faculty member Ted Hiebert, will be on display through Dec. 3 at Kirkland Arts Center.
For the past two years, Hiebert, who is an assistant professor in the Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences Program, has been collecting used copies of books that contain Jorge Luis Borges short story, “The Library of Babel.” The story is about a library of infinite knowledge – a library so complete that it contains every book that was ever written and every book that could be written.
Hieberts art installation is conceived as a reversal of Borges’ formula. Rather than the documentation of every book, the exhibition is a documentation of only one book, Borges’ book. The idea behind the exhibition is to re-tell the story multiple times.
In order to do so, Hiebert used a process called Kirlian photography, an imaging technique that utilizes electricity instead of light to generate its pictures. By subjecting the book pages to a high-voltage charge, images can be made of each page. Every image has a unique appearance based on the condition of the paper, the age of the text and any traces left by the readers of the books, such as fingerprints, coffee stains or signs of wear and tear.
Hiebert said, “The exhibition attempts to give a tangible presence to an imaginary idea – an example of my belief that creative practice is most meaningful when it resonates with life outside of the classroom.”
Kirkland Arts Center is located at 620 Market St., Kirkland.