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Medal Winner 2008

Invisible University Library

Part 1 Project 2008
Wynne Leung
Francesco Matteo Belfiore
University of Greenwich | UK
Our 'mutoscopes' are spaces which make invisible processes visible. We've established a logistical communication network between the city and countryside by displacing urban voids such as traffic islands, street furniture and hedgerows into the grounds of Hay Castle and Hay town. Streetlamps are enlarged to accomodate writers, whose invisible activities become visible signals in the nocturnal ambience.

Literary London decamps to Hay on Wye for the festival: flaneurs, voyeurs and agitators of the production process of writing. Ruins are the setting for recital, storytelling, lecturing, preaching, listening, whispering and eavesdropping; while pigeonfanciers dispense messages about future events. It is a soundscape where nature and artifice are intertwined. Once the books are converted to audio format, they are shredded, pulped and recycled to provide new paper for emerging writers. Writers, readers and audience occupy an illuminating space in the ruins of history; confounded by the ever expanding accumulation of technologies.

Wynne Leung
Francesco Matteo Belfiore

Hay on Wye, a small town in Wales, boasts that it is the worlds largest second hand bookshop. It supplies books by internet orders to a global readership.

'invisible university library' explores the position of the book, the writer, education and communication in contemporary society. The students identify a gradual shift from written language to technological media, focussing on audio culture. The castle offers an idealised pastoral landscape where books are read out, transferred to audio format, broadcast to a live audience, and on radio programmes. Nature is inhabited by artifice as the castle becomes a mechanised and digitised rural artefact.

The students started by dismantling books. They dispersed the pages of a book entitled 'The World Today' along the border between England and Wales, then collected the pages and interspersed them between the leaves of 'An Outline of History', their own portable border. Using a map of the town, they then identified the positions where old postcards had immortalised scenic views. These were then introduced into the diagrams of a book entitled 'The Process of Circuitmaking', thereby establishing a network of panoramas in the town. Their strategy was to reoccupy the historical 'postcard voids' by means of transposition: traffic islands become scenic views, postcard void becomes urban signal.

Their 'hedgerow school' revives the urban tradition of storytelling. When Wales and Ireland were occupied by the English, Celtic languages were banned. Hedgerow schools emerged as a desperate attempt to pass the language on from one generation to the next. They claim that the written word is less subject to alteration and reconstruction than the verbal language, and therefore the book is a museum. So books get shredded and used as a 'birdsnesting roof' or to make more paper, rolled out along the Welsh border for use by new writers.

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