Take your pick – Encyclopaedia Britannica or Wikipedia?
Pre-internet, the costly process of commissioning and publishing new books reinforced a system of slow, partial, hierarchical knowledge with a built-in resistance to change. Wikipedia, self-publishing and social media have created hyperfast, subjective, cheap alternative sources of information (and misinformation). Everyone is an author now.
Adventures of Ideas will be an exhibition of book works that explores the problems of knowledge, the limitations of language and the role of creativity against the contemporary backdrop of this digital divide.
The Pelican imprint, with its emphasis on affordable knowledge covering a vast range of subjects, is a recurring starting point. Pelican Portraits critiques the profiles of the authors who wrote them; Unearthing Jacquetta Hawkes (part of a collaborative project with Fay Stevens) deconstructs her famous natural history of the British Isles.
With public opinion now so polarised, agreement on anything seems a long way off. Problems of Philosophy and Understanding Arguments articulate a sense of frustration not only at the difficulty of grasping the finer points of important philosophical debates but also a frustration with the philosophers who cannot seem to agree amongst themselves. If they cannot agree, what hope do we have?
In this context, why make art? What is it and what exactly are artists trying to do? A New Dictionary of Art provides answers for everybody with over 3000 definitions of art found online. (Something To Do With Art continues this enquiry across the airwaves through podcast conversations with artists about what they do and why.)
So in the current age of fake news Library of Truth is a reminder that books are not infallible either. This collection of books titled “The Truth About …” contains more than a few unreliable volumes. Misinformation, disingenuous and mendacious claims and outright lies predate the internet.
The name of the exhibition, Adventures of Ideas, is taken from an introduction to philosophy by Alfred North Whitehead. The title, and the book, seem to convey a boundless optimism and sense of reassurance which both feel curiously appropriate, and perhaps necessary, in the current times.
“Robert Good needs to take his place in the long and distinguished list of obsessive, eccentric collectors who have done so much to brighten the world.”
Prof Derek Matravers, Foreword to A New Dictionary of Art
UWE Bristol, City Campus at Bower Ashton, Kennel Lodge Road, Bristol BS3 2JT.