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"Cabinet Logics: An Intellectual History of Book Furniture" with Shannon Mattern talk

TBA, 22 Feb 2018 at TBA
While the physical properties of our reading materials, and our material engagements with them, have evolved over the millennia – and particularly within the past decade – we still rely on physical supports, furnishings, to scaffold our interactions with them.

Cabinet Logics: An Intellectual History of Book Furniture

Even “the cloud” that seems to float above us today relies on heavy architecture for its operation. In this talk I’ll focus on the furniture we design and build (or buy, or appropriate, or kludge together) to make, store, support, organize, and preserve our bibliographic objects. These structures scaffold our media technologies, inform the way human bodies relate to those media, and embody certain assumptions about what and how we know things through these objects. We’ll examine how these media-furnishings function as material supports for the delivery of and engagement with media resources, while they also frame organizational logics, access policies, and technical protocols. We’ll discover how our task chairs, desks, shelves, and cabinets give shape to epistemology, politics, and affect — how they render complex intellectual and political ideas material, aesthetic, and empirical.

Event co-sponsored by Columbia Libraries and the Book History Colloquium.