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Aesthetics of Information: All Information is Quite Useless
August 8, 2022 at 7:30 pm - 10:30 pm EDT
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You know the saying “never judge a book by its cover?” What would happen if we ignored that advice? Join librarian Jay L. Colbert in a discussion about our aesthetic and sensual relationships with information.
We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it.
The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.
All art is quite useless.
― Oscar Wilde
In Richard Strauss’ 1942 opera Capriccio, a Countess is torn between two suitors: a composer and a poet. An interpretation of the opera’s themes could be “which is more important, the lyrics or the music?”
A musical composition with lyrics transmits information via the instrumentation, the lyrics, and the combination of the two.
So, which do you prefer, the lyrics or the music?
Stop. Don’t intellectualize it. Don’t think.
What does your body tell you?
In this salon, we’ll ask ourselves questions like this about the ways information is transmitted to us. We’ll examine the importance of beauty and sensuality in the realms of knowledge organization, data visualization, and others that aren’t usually considered artistic. We’ll also interrogate our ideas about what is beautiful and what is pleasurable within a Eurocentric legacy (if you are a person in a Eurocentric culture).
And if you’re of legal drinking age, feel free to let out your inner Aesthete and have a glass of absinthe with me.
Important note: This salon may include discussions of eroticism and sexual pleasure.
- Against Interpretation by Susan Sontag
- Eros in the library: Considering the aesthetics of knowledge organization by Melissa Adler (please reach out to me if this link doesn’t work or you can’t access the article)
- Slides on the principles of Edward Tufte
- The preface to Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray
- My Zettelkasten notes 5a The aesthetics of information affects our relationships to it and 5b We need an erotics of metadata