Organized by the Discursive & Curatorial Productions (DCP) Initiative

Closing Conversation with
Tim Schwartz and Steve Fagin
Friday, January 23rd // 5-6PM
Visual Arts Presentation Lab @ SME 149

A contemporary trend in academic and public libraries is to focus on the "use" of the library space. Libraries are becoming coffee shops - offering free high speed internet access and a quiet place to work and study. Media stations are scattered around, along with comfy chairs, small rooms or pods with whiteboards, and large tables with power outlets. Books on the other hand are being pushed offsite or deaccessioned, removing their presence. At the same time, online journals and other electronic resources are becoming a focus as libraries shift their budgets to prioritize subscribing to as many online journals as possible, thus "increasing" the amount of information available at the library. Taken together these facts point toward libraries becoming digital information hubs with only a few old dusty books on the shelves for decoration. Tim Schwartz and Steve Fagin will discuss the idea of books becoming obsolete while we focus the future of the book on the digital screens in our pockets.

Exhibition on View
4 December 2014 - 23 January 2015
Visual Arts Gallery @ SME 142

Opening Reception on Thursday, 4 December 2014 // 6-8PM
Gallery Hours: December 5, 10, and 11 // 12-4PM

Wednesday-Thursday, January 7-23 // 12-4PM or

By Appointment:

Structural and Materials Engineering (SME) Building #142
UC San Diego, 9500 Gilman Dr, La Jolla, California 92093

The UC San Diego Department of Visual Arts is pleased to present Bookends, an exhibition that features two works by Los Angeles-based artist and alumnus Tim Schwartz. Playing the Library and eScape 50 attempt to illuminate what is lost and what might be gained as books and libraries become digital.

Playing the Library attempts to document how people browse libraries, work within a constrained system, and how state-of-the-art algorithms see and dissect books as they try to convert them into digital books.

The work is presented as 30 books from 30 performances that occurred over two months in 2014 primarily in Los Angeles, CA and New York, NY with audio excerpts from conversations with each participant following his or her performance are played near a custom built book scanner. Each performance ranged in duration and amount of scanned pages. By removing himself as an active participant in the performance, the artist endeavored to open the space for each performer's style to emerge unaffected. Through notes and audio recordings, Schwartz documented how each performer engaged with him as the technician, looked for validation, attempted a narrative structure, improvised and decided when the performance was over. After each performance the scans were processed with Abby Fine Reader, one of the most advanced Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software systems available. The OCR software attempts to read each page and identify textual and visual content. It then tries to reconstruct this content in the same layout and fonts in a PDF file. From this file a book is printed for each performance.

eScape 50 attempts to treat ePaper just as the first photographers treated photographs as a medium to document the people and spaces around them while exploring the medium itself. Developed in the 1990s at MIT, electronic paper or ePaper has a few properties that make it distinct from other digital screens. Once a digital image is transferred to the ePaper screen and power removed, the digital image is locked into it forever. The fifty ePaper screens shown in this exhibition form one continuous mountain landscape, where each screen is but a piece of the whole continuous landscape. These mountains have been digitally generated through interference patterns, but because of the properties of the ePaper, the images mimic and read like mountains in a black and white photograph. It is the ambiguity between the real and the digital that is the focus of this project.

Tim Schwartz (b. 1981 Boston, Massachusetts) is a Los Angeles-based artist, technologist, and activist who makes works of art focused on technology, information, privacy, and how our culture absorbs changes in these areas. He received a BA in Physics from Wesleyan University and an MFA in Visual Arts from the University of California, San Diego. Schwartz has spent the last five years investigating what is lost as archives become digital. In 2010, he developed technology to help reunite missing people affected by the earthquake in Haiti and now organizes a group focused on family reunification after disasters.

Organized by the Department of Visual Arts Discursive & Curatorial Productions (DCP) initiative


Sheena Ghanbari


Related Link:

Steve Fagin
Professor Emeritus
Department of Visual Arts
UC San Diego


Image courtesy of the Artist.



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