According to the 55th Venice Biennale’s catalogue, “on November 16, 1955, self-taught Italian-American artist Marino Auriti filed a design with the U.S. Patent office depicting his Palazzo Enciclopedico (The Encyclopedia Palace), an imaginary museum that was meant to house all worldly knowledge, bringing together the greatest discoveries of the human races, from the wheel to the satellite.
Holed up in his garage out in the middle of the Pennsylvania countryside, Auriti worked on his brainchild for years, constructing a model of a 136-story building that would stand seven hundred meters tall and take up over sixteen blocks in Washington, D.C.”
Auriti’s plan was never carried out, but I am curious to know which categories he would have chosen to label the classes of universal knowledge and how he would have organized the palace’s floors: by subject? By time? By region?
I find the Cooper-Hewitt collection wall extremely interesting as it denies any classification by displaying a picture of the object in order to prioritize the visual information over text. If additional information is desired one must click the icon and then the call number. I was amused by the visual impact of the wall itself and by the playful way to browse the collection. But in case of me looking for a specific object, and supposing that I have a date and maybe a location or a name, would I still go to the collection-wall or rather opting for a different kind of research? I think I would not search for my object on the wall. Why? Because it doesn’t tell me what it is, only what it looks like, which responds to only one of the two aspects Foucault mentions in “The Order of Things”, i.e. it only gives a new place to see things, but it does not offer a new space to describe them (p.143). That being said, I would indeed spend hours browsing the wall with pleasure.
One of the examples from the syllabus of what could be called “collectible knowledge” is MACE – Metadata for Architectural Contents in Europe. The website offers the possibility to search its content by repository, language, resource type, classification and competency. That reminds me of the classification process I am going through while building the database I wish to use for my final project. Would that be comprehensive enough? Will my categories be understood by another user? Why am I choosing to divide the information under certain labels while excluding others?