iSchool to unveil new art installation, Library of Color

Library of Color artwork

When students return to campus for the fall semester, they will find an exciting new art installation welcoming them back. The digital art installation, Library of Color, will be in the east foyer of the iSchool building at 501 E. Daniel Street. The artwork was created by Jer Thorp and made possible through a generous grant from the John N. Chester Estate Endowment Fund provided by the Office of the Chancellor.

Thorp is best known for designing the algorithm to place the nearly 3,000 names on the 9/11 Memorial in Manhattan. He is one of the world's foremost data artists and a leading voice for the ethical use of big data. His data-inspired artwork has been shown around the world, including in New York's Times Square and Museum of Modern Art, the Ars Electronica Center in Austria, and the National Seoul Museum in Korea. In addition to his artwork, Thorp is the author of Living in Data: A Citizen's Guide to a Better Information Future, which was recently published by Macmillan.

Thorp created the web-based A Library of Color while serving as the Innovator-in-Residence at the Library of Congress.

"Library of Color uses custom-written text analysis software to extract color words (red, blue, sand, blood, grass) from titles of collections material. The results are displayed as wide color palettes, where each slice represents an individual book, photograph, map, or other object," said Thorp.

The iSchool's Library of Color will be a permanent media piece, installed on a flat-screen video wall.

"The piece will exist in a kind of 'dream state' where it explores the collections color palette over time. The system will never repeat itself, taking a long and always changing path through color space," said Thorp.

According to the committee in charge of selecting the artist and artwork, this new digital installation will embrace the iSchool's foundation, history, and values, while also exemplifying the School's commitment to shaping the future of information using a creative, interdisciplinary approach.

The School will unveil Library of Color at a virtual "sneak peek" event during the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference. The event will be held on June 23 at 3:00 p.m. CT; advance registration is required for Zoom participation information.

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