One of the enduring attractions of books is their ability to stand witness to their own presence through time and space. A history of social interaction is marked on the pages of a book; a folded corner, a stain from a careless reader's cup of coffee, and a thoughtful comment in the margin accrue and transmit something of where the book has been, with whom, and under what circumstances. Characterized by Walter Benjamin as the particular historical testimony that adheres to a unique body, the auratic quality of the singular object must now be reconciled with digital entities that can be concurrently embodied in different material configurations. Rather than summoning a Benjaminian aura that is attached to a specific materiality, then, the performance of the digital entices the reader in a different way: with an aura of "information." This project explores the allure of information, with its suggestions of sameness, infinite repeatability, and reliability, and considers its influence in the broader infrastructure that shapes meaning-making, scholarship, and the production of knowledge.
- Bonnie Mak, Principal Investigator