Not So Flashy
Written by Bwog Staff
Earlier today, correspondent Carolyn Ruvkun attended a Flash Mob, run by three students from the “arts incubators cluster” of the School of the Arts. Instructed to bring a book and download the “Listen to Low” podcast, this bwogger gathered in front of Butler with about fifty other people. Flash Mob participants then marched inside Low Library, sat at some tables underneath the dome and read rebelliously. For the “low down” on the project, check out the website.
During those ten minutes, we apparently “reclaimed Low as a library.” One leader of the project clarifies, “We wanted to reawaken the space as a library. It came out of an interest in the history of Low—something a lot of Columbia students don’t know about.”
2010 marks the 75th anniversary of Low no longer functioning as a library. According to the curious Columbia myth, Low Library was sinking from the overwhelming weight of books. As a result, they were moved to Butler using enormous slides. You can find photos of the dramatic transfer in Butler Library.
The whole project was more of a sound installation than the rowdy Improv Everywhere performance you usually expect from a flash mob. While at first listen the podcast just seems like white noise, the recording includes sounds of loudly turned pages, actual libraries, and the fabled 1960s protests.
Another artist explains, “We were interested in how books sound like water and fire, and the idea of a building being submerged by books. What does that mean about erasure and destruction?” Frankly, I have no clue. But, for what it’s worth, when the podcast ended, I was more aware of the sounds around me—the echoing footsteps, the rippling book pages and a couple’s impromptu round of “Happy Birthday,” which the leaders insist wasn’t planned.
More photos after the jump.
Photos by CAR