Infinity Room 2: EPFL's 50 years in eight installations
Infinity Room 2 is the second chapter of a two-part exhibition at ArtLab in honor of EPFL’s 50th anniversary this year. Eight installations, ranging from the photographic to the augmented, provide an interactive experience of the school’s academic, cultural, and architectural evolution, and bring a new dimension to institutional archives.
As ArtLab Director Sarah Kenderdine, head of the Lab for Experimental Museology (EM+) in the College of Humanities explains, Infinity Room 2 is about “the archive and aesthetic transcription”.
“It’s about how an object’s aesthetic changes as it moves from one expressive medium to the next; for example, from a jazz concert, to a video of a concert, to an interactive system,” says Kenderdine.
The exhibition follows Infinity Room I, which ran from April 12th to July 28th, and was structured around the works of three professional photographers, who captured the campus from three different artistic perspectives.
A new approach to archives
Both Infinity Room I and 2 revolve around the theme of “ideas without bounds”, as exemplified by the diversity of research at EPFL. In Infinity Room 2, the dynamic and interactive nature of the eight installations (see box) challenges traditional approaches to institutional archives, especially when it comes to how they are accessed.
“You can think of it as a performative archive: it’s not a dormant repository, but one that unfolds through your actions,” Kenderdine says. And indeed, each of the installations involves the visitor in some way, inviting him or her to choose the timescale, image, or virtual object they wish to explore.
This “performative” aspect also allows visitors to view images at different scales – as a pulsating swarm of thousands of photographs that can be selected and enlarged (The Alain Herzog Archive), or as an actual-size digital page from a 1970s magazine (Campus Chronicles).
“It’s about modes of access as much as it is about representation. Everything we look at on the internet is miniaturized, so it’s interesting to see the real-world scales of these documents. There are so many interesting things to play with in terms of people’s physical access to archives,” Kenderdine says.